Often, it is the seemingly small things that get us riled. In this case, it’s a carved wooden wombat that has sat on the Kinglake roundabout for years after his creator quietly placed him there. From time to time he gets moved around, but he never leaves the roundabout.
When someone recently decided it would be a good idea to remove ‘Wally’ entirely they did more than have a laugh. He may not be the most refined piece of installation public art, but he is one of the community’s much loved treasures.
‘Wally’ has continued to deliver his original purpose post-Black Saturday – namely, to simply make us smile. And smile we do when he gets tinseled up for Christmas and has his bunny ears on for Easter. But, an outpouring of anger and grief has followed his disappearance, with social media lighting up in a quest to get him back. ‘Wally’ is unique and there can never be another quite like him.
His creator Glenn ‘Big Glenn’ Barlow put him there when he took up carving after the fires with the simple idea of making us smile. Glenn, after years of dedicated service as a CFA volunteer, is now battling Parkinson’s Disease and has had to hang up his carving chainsaw. “Wally’ disappeared over the weekend of 14/15 April.
The significance of ‘Wally’ can’t be underestimated and locals have already hunted through the local parks to see if he was moved or relocated as a prank. For those who just regard ‘Wally’ as a fixture that has always been there, then some details about his creator may inspire the removalists to reinstate him.
Glenn Barlow and his wife, Helen, have an illustrious history of service with the Kinglake West CFA, including on Black Saturday. Among the accolades are the Chief Officer’s Unit Citation for Courage in 2012, the National Emergency Medal for the 2009 fires and a 10 year service medal in 2016.
For the children of Kinglake West, Glenn performed the role of Santa on the back of the CFA truck for the Christmas run for many years, dishing out endless festive cheer. The totem pole erected at Mason’s Falls post-fires was also one of Glenn’s creations.
Helen Barlow said that Glenn’s fight with Parkinson’s Disease means that the chainsaw carving can’t happen anymore. “He just did it at the time to put a smile on our faces. It is so disappointing that anyone would take it”, Helen said and she added, it took three people to lift ‘Wally’ into place on the roundabout, so an effort would have been required to remove him.Whether he was taken as a prank, or for any other purpose, if it helps those who took him the community would be grateful if he can simply be returned or left in a central location, no questions asked, so he can be put back in place.There will be many willing volunteers to give him a lift.
We remain hopeful that ‘Wally’is back by the time we go to print.