THE NEXT generation of Walloon State School students has assumed custodianship of the Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park, featuring the iconic Babies of Walloon Statue. Each year, for the past five years Councillor Dave Pahlke and the school’s captains, vice-captains and principle Greg Noble have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ipswich City Council representing the students’ guardianship of the park. After the signing on October 13, Walloon SS principle Greg Noble said the school would hold the MOU for 12 months until the next class of seniors stepped up.
“Because our students and the community use the park so often, we are all conscious of looking after this wonderful community resource,” he said. “That our students can see that they can contribute to the broader community is one of the many ways that we encourage little hearts and minds to achieve big hopes and dreams.” “It is a timely reminder that our school has close ties with our local community and the broader area.”
In 1891 while working in the Brisbane region a young Henry Lawson was so taken with the sad story of two sisters who drowned in a waterhole at Walloon at the turn of the nineteenth century, that he penned the now famous poem The Babies of Walloon. Bridget Kate and Mary Jane Broderick aged six and nine at the time, were on an errand for their parents when it is believed the two were attracted to the pool by some water lilies. They were found drowned under two metres of water.
The sculpture of the two girls playing was unveiled in the park across the road from the school in 2006. Cr Pahlke described the park as a local treasure as there weren’t many communities in Australia that could lay claim to a poem written by a literary icon. “The students keep their eyes and ears open and keep a watchful eye over the park for us,” said Cr Pahlke. He said this was in recognition of the fact the Walloon students are guardians of the park. “And we remember that the two little girl who were lost were also once Walloon SS students.”