Official Unveiling of the Statue of the Red Deer Stag Norman, and Commemorative Plaque
Mayor, Councillor Lehmann, and Mrs Lehmann; Councillors; other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to be in Toogoolawah, in the heart of the beautiful Somerset Region, for this important event.
I at once acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands, and express my respect for their Elders past and present.
Norman has brought us together today, but I don’t mean my distinguished predecessor Sir Henry Norman, Governor of Queensland from 1889 to 1895.
I refer instead to Norman the red deer stag, one of six red deer that arrived in Queensland from the UK in 1873 as a gift from Queen Victoria, who is of course the ‘Queen’ after whom Queensland was named.
The deer probably came from the herd at Windsor Great Park, next to Windsor Castle. If so, this really was a personal gesture from Queen Victoria, who had a special affection for the Park.
The four female deer, Atlas, Alma, Ada and Martha, along with Norman and Bolingbroke – what magnificent names! – must have been tough creatures. In those days the voyage from the UK would have taken some months.
Nevertheless, the six deer survived the voyage and were released on the McConnel family’s Cressbrook Station in September 1873. This was, of course, before the impact of introducing exotic species into a new environment was well understood.
Though Norman arrived 144 years ago, he has not faded from history. Queensland’s coat of arms includes a red deer stag – let’s imagine it’s Norman – representing the State’s historical link with United Kingdom.
And now the Somerset Regional Council has honoured this fascinating historical connection by acquiring a magnificent statue depicting Norman, created by local sculptor Bodo Muche .
It’s a wonderful choice for this sculpture garden, part of the spacious and light-filled Art Gallery built by the Council in the restored Condensery Packing Shed, itself closely linked to the early history of Toogoolawah,
Fittingly, Bodo Muche and Susan McConnel – a family name that has close connections with Cressbrook Station – have exhibitions in the Gallery at the moment. I very much look forward to hearing more about the McConnel family connection to this wonderful part of Queensland’s heritage shortly.
I thank and congratulate the Somerset Regional Council, and indeed everyone who has been involved, on the marvellous way Norman and his special place in Queensland’s history is being recognised.
And it is now my great pleasure, as the representative in Queensland of Her Majesty The Queen, Queen Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, to officially unveil the statue of Norman and its commemorative plaque. Thank you.