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Cunnamulla Memorial Fountain

Description

The fountain is of concrete, with a circular trough 7 metres in diameter and an elaborate centrepiece with four basins. The centrepiece comprises four basins, decrease in scale as they reach the peak. The imagery is not entirely appropriate for a war memorial, the fountain obviously a stock type not designed for the purpose. The centrepiece is surmounted by a small figure of a boy supporting the top basin. Around the base of the centrepiece are four large griffins, heraldic symbols of wisdom and watchfulness, each holding a shield bearing a kangaroo and an emu. There are four smaller griffins higher on the centrepiece. The fountain is richly ornamented with classical motifs: water jets in the form of lions and human heads: swags around the centrepiece; and moulded leaves on the undersides of the basins. Names of the locals who served in the war are not recorded on the fountain - these are recorded on a Wunderlich art metal Honour Board in the Civic Centre. The fountain functions during the day and provides a delightful landmark in a hot inland town. It is in a triangular traffic island, with well watered lawn, and is now enclosed by a post and chain fence. There is a flagstaff within the enclosure, and a captured gun (or war trophy).

The First World War Memorial is situated in a five way intersection, forming a traffic island in the centre. It is surrounded by a grassed strip and enclosed by a low post and chain fence.

A small leaded marble plaque on the north face bears the inscription; Erected by the citizens of Paroo Shire in memory of those gallant Australians who fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918.

Location
Jane, John and Emma Strees - 291km west of St George, (Balonne Highway), 195km south of Charleville (Matilda Highway)., Cunnamulla Qld 4490

Location of Cunnamulla Memorial Fountain

Inscription
Refer to additional images.
Conflicts commemorated
First World War, 1914-1918
Other
Memorial type
Other
Additional information

War Memorial Fountains of this scale are uncommon in Queensland, however water is a popular symbolic element suggesting renewed life and cleansing. It is rare as a war memorial with imagery not found on other memorials.

It is not known by whom the Cunnamulla War Memorial Fountain was designed. The concrete memorial honours those who fell during the First World War. The names of the fallen are not listed on the memorial, but on an honour board in the Civic Centre. Indeed, if not for an inscription, the fountain would be difficult to identify as a war memorial.

By 1920 the Paroo Shire had decided to erect a War Memorial Fountain in the centre of Cunnamulla town. However, it appears that the memorial was not erected immediately as in July 1924, the masonry firm of A L Petrie, Brisbane wrote to the Paroo Shire Council offering designs. Little is known about the origins of the fountain, however there is an identical fountain (not a memorial) in the New South Wales town of Wellington, indicating that it was a stock line and not specially commissioned.

Although there are many different types of memorials in Queensland, fountains were an uncommon selection as the main town memorial. They were more often used in school grounds where, as drinking fountains, they also served a useful function.

Fountains were selected as memorials, as water was considered symbolic of renewed life and cleansing. Water is a significant element in many memorials of note, including The Pool of Reflection in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Many other smaller memorials had drinking spouts and water troughs incorporated into their designs.

As water is a scarce commodity in rural Queensland, a fountain may have been considered a suitable sacrifice as a memorial.

Recorded by
Shirley and Trevor McIvor
Date recorded
2 March 2009

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