WIL­LIAM FINDS HOME OUT WEST

Thal­lon’s hopes rest on wom­bat

Balonne Beacon - - FRONT PAGE - Mar­guerite Cud­dihy Mar­guerite. Cud­dihy @west­ern­starnews.com

THE tiny out­back com­mu­nity of Thal­lon is hop­ing the ar­rival of a giant wom­bat will rein­vig­o­rate the econ­omy and build hope for the fu­ture.

Wil­liam the Wom­bat is a two-me­tre high and three-and-a-half me­tre long recre­ation of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered north­ern hairy-nosed va­ri­ety.

He was cre­ated in Bris­bane and has just been un­veiled in his new home at Thal­lon. Wil­liam’s cre­ator, Na­ture­works’ David Joffe, said the plan was to de­velop an icon for Thal­lon, be­cause it was one of the orig­i­nal habi­tats for the north­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat.

“But over the last 60 to 100 years, the an­i­mal has ac­tu­ally be­come ex­tinct in that area,” he said.

There are now just 250 re­main­ing – 240 at Ep­ping For­est Na­tional Park near Cler­mont and 10 at Richard Un­der­wood Na­ture Refuge near St Ge­orge.

“The town of Thal­lon is hop­ing Wil­liam can put this lit­tle tiny town on the map,” Mr Joffe said.

Thal­lon came up with the idea to cre­ate Wil­liam af­ter a com­mu­nity meet­ing in 2015 to rein­vig­o­rate the com­mu­nity af­ter years of drought, loss of ser­vices and pop­u­la­tion de­cline.

The Wom­bat Foun­da­tion is ded­i­cated to con­serv­ing the breed and spon­sored the project to build Wil­liam.

Thal­lon Progress As­so­ci­a­tion spokesper­son Leanne Bros­nan said it was about rais­ing pu­bic aware­ness to bring north­ern hairy-nosed wom­bats back from the brink.

“It’s also about bring­ing Thal­lon back from the brink,” she said.

“The town has suf­fered through many years of drought, so this is a shared aim.”

Wil­liam was un­veiled in a cer­e­mony last Fri­day where Thal­lon State School stu­dents sang, and the QCWA pro­vided an af­ter­noon tea of sweet treats, in­clud­ing crowd favourite wom­bat-shaped bis­cuits.

PHOTO: BALONNE COUN­CIL

NEW HOME: Balonne Mayor Richard Marsh with newly in­stalled WIl­liam the Wom­bat, in Thal­lon.

PHOTO: KAREN BERRY

WEL­COME HOME: Thal­lon State School stu­dents sing Wel­come to Wil­liam at the of­fi­cial un­veil­ing in Thal­lon last Fri­day.

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