A PAIR of bronze kangaroo statues have been restored to their perch on the Lambton Park Memorial Gates for the first time since World War Two, and in time for Anzac Day.
The statues are replicas of the bronze kangaroos that once topped the gates, which were built in 1918 to memorialise the 136 Lambton men who enlisted in the Great War.
The original statues are thought to have been melted down for the Second World War effort, in a time when the population was urged to contribute everything of material value.
Newcastle councillor Andrea Rufo, who has campaigned for upgrades to Lambton Park, said the 60-kilogram statues would be given an Anzac Day dedication ceremony next week.
“It’s good recognition for those men who enlisted, many of whom ultimately lost their lives,” Cr Rufo said.
“And it means young people can hear the stories and get a better understanding of why these gates are here, and what it means.”
The NSW government contributed $19,000 towards the statues, following campaigning by Cr Rufo and the Lambton Local to have them re-cast in time for the gates’ centenary next year.
Eddie Wentorf, of Wentorf Bronze Art Foundry, was commissioned to sculpt the bronze kangaroos, and he said they were cast using modern techniques from silicon bronze.
The originals could have been built over months by highly-skilled craftsmen, he said, such as those who migrated from Italy.
“It wouldn’t have made much material, melting them down,” Mr Wentorf said.
The original kangaroo statues could also, Cr Rufo added, turn up “in someone’s backyard”.
Lambton Park could yet relinquish more of its heritage secrets, if a time capsule said to be buried beneath the gates’ foundation stone is ever found.
The stone was laid in October 1918 by the member of parliament J Estell, after Lambton mayor Edward Charlton had campaigned to install the gates.
The statues’ dedication will be at next Tuesday’s 9am Anzac Day service in Lambton Park.