The mystery of Madame Thozet’s statue
THERE are two parts to this interesting place to explore in Rockhampton; the first part is the Thozet graves in Norris Park, the second part is the “Madam Thozet Statue”.
How to get there
From the traffic lights at the north end of the Fitzroy River Bridge, ride or drive east along Lakes Creek Road. When you cross Frenchman’s Creek, turn left into Thozet Road, continue up Thozet Road and turn right into Mason Street and you will find Norris Park on the corner of Mason and Codd streets.
Who was Madam Thozet
Madam Maria Thozet, you might remember, was the wife of Monsieur Anthelme Thozet, a French botanist who came to live in Rockhampton prior to 1861.
Monsieur Thozet owned a huge area of North Rockhampton, about 40 hectares, from Thozet Road to Thozet Creek, which he turned into gardens. There are many stories about him winning world trophies overseas because of his gardening ability.
Monsieur Thozet was born in 1826 and because of a revolution in France in 1848, he escaped to England and then to Australia. While here in Rockhampton, he was responsible for planting many trees at the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and also the trees along Quay Street.
Monsieur Thozet and some of his family were buried on their property, in this small park on the corner of Mason and Codd Streets; just off Thozet Road. There is a small monument there now.
The graves were found by ground penetrating radar and are fenced off under an old mango tree. There are still a number of old mango trees that Monsieur Thozet planted in the area.
The adventure continues
After photographs and possibly a picnic in the park, you are ready for the next part of your adventure.
Drive up Codd Street and turn right into Rockonia Road and after crossing Thozet Creek, you turn right into Dee Street. Drive down Dee Street and park at the corner of Dee Street and Lakes Creek Road.
Walk across the park to the North West corner, where the swings are, and you will see the plinth in the bottom of Thozet Creek.
Not many people know about this statue, or have ever seen this place in Rockhampton, Queensland; not even people that have lived here in Rockhampton for many years.
The one truth in this history story is the photograph of the plinth that the statue was mounted upon and a little of the French family, Monsieur and Madam Thozet.
The hidden statue
Anyway, now I must tell you the story of the statue that was hidden in the bush for many years. There are number of stories about the statue, and this is one of them.
When I was about 12 years old in about 1951, I joined the local 10th. Rockhampton Boy Scout Troop in Koongal and that was 66 years ago.
The other scouts from the Koongal area, most of them went to the Lakes Creek State School as I did, took me to see the statue which was well hidden in the jungle-like bush. At that time there were no houses in the area, just bush. In those 1950s days there were still many horses and carts trundling along the streets of Rockhampton,
The story we were told, and we boys believed, was that Madam Thozet’s child fell into the creek and she jumped in to save the baby and they were both drowned, so the statue was erected in the bottom of the creek in remembrance. That might not be true but Madam Thozet is holding a large fish by the tail in her right hand.
Obviously someone took Madam Thozet’s Statue from its plinth in Thozet Creek sometime in the past 50 years, since we children were there last. To do this they would have needed a truck and crane and a few people to help because the statue would have been very heavy and difficult to move from the high plinth.
Only the plinth is left standing.
The plinth is about three metres high and is set on a mound of soil.
Way back in Rockhampton’s early days, someone went to a lot of trouble to cut the four iron-bark posts, stand them and fill the centre with concrete and stones and to stand the statue on the top and there must have been a good reason to go to all that trouble.
There are many other stories about the statue. One story is that it was one of a pair of gate posts, but being in the bottom of a creek bed makes that a most unlikely story.
Another story is that it was the corner post of a property and there are a few more stories. Whatever the reason, “someone” must have had a very good reason for doing all the hard work of erecting the statue in the bottom of Thozet Creek because water floods around it when it rains.
It would have been a very difficult task in those days, the early 1800s, before machinery was available to lift that heavy statue on to the top of the plinth in the Australian bush. No doubt they used a ‘gyn-pole’, (perhaps spelt ‘Gin-pole’) a high pole set up at an angle and supported by a number of ropes. Ask me and I will explain it.
Some people believe that it might be the statue of Aphrodite, but who cares?
The point is why was it placed there in the bottom of a creek in the first place? Regardless of who or what it is, I sincerely hope that it can be re-erected on its plinth because the city of Rockhampton should keep any past history, if that is possible, so that everyone can visit this ancient place in Rockhampton.
The mystery is that no one knows anything definite about the statue. Where it came from? How it got to Rockhampton? Who erected it? No one even knows for sure who owned it.
French place names in Rockhampton
Thozet Road; Thozet Creek; Little Thozet Creek; Frenchman’s Creek; Frenchville Road and the suburb of Frenchville.