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Statue comes to life

KEEPING THEME: Students from Amiens State School   with town crier Bob Townsend for the launch of the Soldier Settlers Monument.
KEEPING THEME: Students from Amiens State School with town crier Bob Townsend for the launch of the Soldier Settlers Monument. Matthew Purcell

A TRIBUTE to the soldier settlers from the Granite Belt is now a reality following the official launch of the project last Friday.

A monument and park honouring Australia's soldier settlers is planned for Cottonvale, with a giant statue of a returned soldier to greet passers-by on the New England Highway.

The concept is some years in the making and the team behind the ambitious project are counting on continued community support.

"We've been working on the project for soldier settlers for 15 years,” Stanthorpe Museum curator Lorene Long said.

"It was the historical society who put all the signs up along roads to tell where the railway stops were ... so Passchendaele, Pozieres etc.

"We did that 15 years ago and we were researching for our historian so she could write another book. She told me one day that she was past it and I had to do it.

"I have done that and we released it in 2014.

"From there it's always been a thing that there's been no monuments to these men anywhere in Australia.

"I found one in Griffith but apart from that people just put up plaques.

"The soldier settlers were just told to get on with life and they carried with them a lot of physical injuries, as well as mental injuries and it's just bugged me that we haven't acknowledged them.”

Mrs Long said the statute would be more than just a soldier.

"He should have a wife, horse and a plough and an axe and he will do,” she said.

"It's the complete picture we're doing.”

Artist Franco Arcidiacono, who is part of the project, said it is expected to take about two years to complete.

"My part of the project was to give Lorene's ideas some sort of shape,” he said.

"The plan now is we want this project, which will be largely crowd funded with some sort of grants and so on, to be ready for opening by November 2019.”

Lions Club president Stuart Perrett said the organisation plans to help turn the one acre block, donated by Sam Giacca, into a tourist desintation.

"We see the advantages of a project like this for the community because people will travel to visit and see it. It'll certainly be one of those big icons,” he said.

To donate head to gofund me.com/soldier-settlers- monument.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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