By HARRY CLARKE

THE arrival of Wandoan’s newest resident harks back to some of the town’s proudest history.

A life sized metal sculpture of the iconic Soldier Settler has been installed at the Avenue of Honour and will be unveiled at 12pm today as part of the town’s Anzac Day commemorations.

Soldier Settlers was the name given to honourably discharged servicemen who were selected in a ballot between 1952 and 1954 to settle in Wandoan and given land to establish working farms.

The Wandoan Soldier Settler Scheme saw the arrival of 103 returned soldiers in Wandoan and is regarded as integral to the development of the small town, helping to shape its success as an agricultural centre and close-knit community.

Wandoan’s Soldier Settler sculpture by Dion Cross Sculptures

The Wandoan Arts Council commissioned Chinchilla based sculptor Dion Cross to build the exhibit, which contains old tools and scrap metals found on properties owned by the Soldier Settlers.

“The intention of our soldier sculpture is to create a timeless memorial with national significance,” said Tania Baker, Wandoan Arts Council spokesperson.

“We hope it entices family and friends of serving military personnel and everyday Australians to come and remember, reflect and be reminded of the sacrifices that have been made for the freedom we all enjoy and yet can so easily be taken for granted.

“Dion has created a powerful and distinguished sculpture that represents all Australian servicemen and women.

“It stands as a testament to their inspiring sense of pride and purpose. It is a reminder to generations to come of the enormous debt our nation owes to their bravery.”

Dion Cross said it was an honour to build an artwork which represented such significance to Australia and to the Wandoan community.

“As an artist, to work on something that’s such an important part of Australian history is great, but also as an Australian to build something that commemorates the wars of the past really means a lot to me,” he said.

Wandoan’s Soldier Settler sculpture by Dion Cross Sculptures

“The Wandoan Arts Council collected a whole lot of tools and scrap metal from the Solder Settler properties and these have become some of the key pieces of the sculpture.

“There’s a lot of meaning in the sculpture and it really gives the community a sense of ownership.

“The community up there in Wandoan is tremendous. I think they’ve got a sculpture that they can call their own and I’m sure it will mean a lot to them.”

The Wandoan Arts Council would like to acknowledge:

  • The Western Downs Regional Council for their contribution towards the lighting of the sculpture and surrounding landscaping.
  • Wandoan Coal Project – Glencore representative has been very generous in sourcing the large sandstone rock from the property “Kimbarra” and donating all of the plants featured in the garden
  • JB Backhire Hire donated their time and the transport of the rock from “Kimbarra” to Wandoan
  • Brett from Darling Downs Freight Service in Dalby for the freight cost of transporting the flame tree from Dalby to Wandoan
  • Elite Cutting Tech Dalby for the donation of the dedication plaque
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