BABIES OF WALLOON WATERHOLE SET TO BE PRESERVED

 

Cr David Pahlke sharing a quiet moment at the waterhole with Walloon State School Captains, Sam Aquilina and Casey Cogzell.

A WALLOON waterhole which holds a special place in Australia’s history is set to be protected by Ipswich City Council.

Council had today decided to list the drowning site – the Babies of Walloon waterhole – as a character place under the Ipswich Heritage Planning Scheme. The site is located on Haigslea – Amberley Road, Walloon and had cultural heritage significance because it had sparked the imagination of one of Australia’s greatest writers.

In 1891, legendary Australian author Henry Lawson was so captivated by the sad but true tale of two young girls who drowned in the waterhole at Walloon, he immortalised them in his poem The Babies of Walloon. Aged six and nine, the two daughters of a railway lengthsman at Walloon, Bridget Kate and Mary Jane Broderick, were sent on an errand by their parents and it is believed that they were attracted by some water-lilies in a waterhole near their home. They were found drowned in six feet of water at the waterhole that lies within the boundaries of the property on Haigslea – Amberley Rd, Walloon.

Following today’s decision, a provisional character listing would protect the waterhole and a designated area surrounding it whilst community consultation is undertaken. Following consultation a decision will be made on permanently listing the waterhole. In recent years the poem and the publication of a book by Ipswich author Judith Baker in 1999 has rekindled the local community’s interest in the tragic event. The main park in Walloon has been re-named Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park. The park has also been re-modelled to incorporate the Babies of Walloon theme to honour Henry Lawson’s literary contribution to Australia and turn it into a major tourist attraction. A cast bronze, ceramic and Italian glass mosaic sculpture designed to depict the Broderick sisters playing was installed in the park along with a poet’s platform made of timber which bears a bronze bust of Henry Lawson set into the lectern. Public toilets were constructed in the park in 2008 and feature a verse of The Babies of Walloon poem on the front.

Division 10 Councillor David Pahlke said Lawson’s connection with Ipswich was also recognised each year through the running of the Ipswich Poetry Feast. “This annual written poetry competition was established in 2002 to celebrate Ipswich’s connection to Henry Lawson through The Babies of Walloon poem,” Cr Pahlke, the Ipswich Poetry Feast Chairperson, said. “It is designed to encourage, reward and showcase poetry and excellence in poetry writing and performance.

“Now in its 10th year, the Ipswich Poetry Feast also includes a presentation evening for the competition winners along with poetry writing workshops held in local schools and a slam poetry event.” Visit the website – http://www.ipswichpoetryfeast.com.au – for more information.

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