Norman
Norman Emma Clarke

The tale of Norman and how he made history in Toogoolawah

PALS Norman, Bolingbroke, Atlas, Alma, Ada and Martha made the eight month sea voyage from Windsor Castle gardens to Somerset region paddocks close to 150 years ago.

They rocked on the high seas on the deck of the Great Queensland in timber crates and on September 19, 1873, the two stags and four hinds arrived at Cressbrook, near Toogoolawah.

The deer were a gift from Queen Victoria to the State of Queensland.

Mary Banks at the time wrote, "on a memorable Sunday, Queen Victoria's deer were turned out on the river flats. Every man, woman and child on the place was present...all dressed in their Sunday best".

Her great-great nephew, Christopher McConnel was at the Somerset Regional Art Gallery - The Condensery on the weekend with Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC to unveil Norman - in his bronze form.

Somerset sculpturist Bodo Muche crafted Norman to mark 144 years since the red deer were released into Somerset.

BRONZE BEAST: Christopher McConnel, Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC and Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann unveil the bronze sculpture of Norman.
BRONZE BEAST: Christopher McConnel, Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey AC and Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann unveil the bronze sculpture of Norman. Emma Clarke

Mr McConnel's family has a rich legacy in the Somerset region, his great-grandfather established the Cressbrook Condensed Milk Factory in 1898 and their family home hosted Norman, Bolingbroke, Atlas, Alma, Ada and Martha.

"My great-great grandfather, David Cannon McConnel settled our home "Cressbrook" in 1841. In 1873, 31 years prior to the establishment of the township of Toogoolawah, it was it was Cressbrook that was selected as the most suitable well-protected paddock of which to release the noble animals to the new state of Queensland," he said.

"Congratulations must go to the most wonderful and commendable feature artist contributions of my wife, Susan McConnel, with her unique artistic depiction of early local and indeed Australian history together with typical Australian rural life and of Bodo Muche, a talented and renowned local and worldwide sculpturist with his wonderful statue of Norman."

An exhibit showcasing Australian history through the eyes of Susan McConnel and Bodo Muche is on display at the gallery until October 8.


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