EMOTIONAL DAY: Joan Busby, a relative of the original Babies of Walloon, unveils the new Babies of Walloon statue.
EMOTIONAL DAY: Joan Busby, a relative of the original Babies of Walloon, unveils the new Babies of Walloon statue. David Nielsen

The 'babies' come home

A WALLOON icon destroyed by vandals earlier this year has been restored and unveiled.

The Babies of Walloon statue in Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park was inspired by legendary Australian poet Henry Lawson's account of the tragic drowning deaths of two sisters in 1891.

The statue was erected six years ago and stood until vandals cut one of the sisters from the sculpture in February.

It commemorates Bridget and Mary Broderick, who drowned in a waterhole beside what is now Haigslea - Amberley Rd.

The pair were drawn to the water-lilies and drowned in less than two metres.

Descendants of the Broderick family attended after only becoming aware of the location's significance to their families' heritage three months ago.

They were contacted three months ago by researchers trying to establish a family connection.

Among them was Joan Busby, whose late mother Annie was the girls' younger sister.

She was four years old at the time of their deaths.

The Rockhampton resident recalled her mother talking about her sisters without going into great detail about the incident.

The family believed the girls had drowned in Woolwash Lagoon near Rockhampton.

Mrs Busby, who was at the rededication ceremony on Saturday, said the day was very emotional for her family.

"It was very, very emotional for me. My mother used to tell us about having the two sisters but we never knew about the poem or the statue until recently," she said.

"It's been very rewarding to us and very sad. We'll never forget Ipswich. They were really my aunties and I'm here reaching 90 years of age. I'm thankful to have lived a long life."

Cr David Pahlke said the council had worked hard to return what was once the centre piece of the park to its original condition.

"This statue is a tribute to the late Broderick sisters and their story and also to recognise the city's special connection with Henry Lawson," he said.

He said Ipswich was proud with its links to Henry Lawson.

"There are not many communities that can lay claim to a poem by the literary icon."



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