Man on Monument
Published on 10 March 2023
Unveiled in 1922, the imposing lone soldier on the Walgett Memorial Monument stood proudly for a century in the centre of a well-used roundabout at the intersection of the Castlereagh Highway and Wee Waa Street.
The marble soldier was imported from France and the monument originally recorded the names of the men who voluntarily left the district to take part in World War One.
In late July 2021 an incident with a turning B triple combination truck saw the monument struck and the marble soldier and plinth topple from its base.
It is now hoped that the town will be graced by the presence of not one, but two, of the soldiers.
At the time of the incident Walgett Shire Council General Manager, Mike Urquhart advised that a structural engineer would be engaged to assess the remaining sections of the monument to ensure its structural integrity has not been compromised, and Council would work closely with the Walgett RSL Sub branch and insurers on the restoration project.
Not quite two years later and Mr Urquhart reports good progress has been made and that the monument will be restored to its former glory – even if the soldier isn’t the original one.
Sculptor, Carl Valerious who was engaged by Council has repaired the original soldier and taken a fibreglass mould, which has been digitized in Melbourne in readiness to cut out the new Soldier who will take pride of place on the roundabout.
Mr Valerious said the transportation of the marble from Italy had been a logistical nightmare, however it recently arrived safely in Sydney and is now on its way to Melbourne for the cutting out process.
But the original soldier will be returning to Walgett also, hopefully in time for Anzac Day in April.
“All going well, both soldiers will be standing proud for Anzac Day 2023,” Mr Urquhart said.
“Council plans to have the original soldier located in Memorial Park with some interpretive signage explaining his life in Walgett and his reconstruction after the truck incident that occurred on the 29th July 2021.”
When Mr Valerious delivers the twin soldiers he will also undertake a clean-up of the monument before installing a brand-new marble base for the new Soldier to stand on as he takes his post.