Landcom has unveiled the repaired bronze statue of Vietnam War tracker dog Caesar at Edmondson Park station.
Originally commissioned and installed in 2016, the statue disappeared overnight in a brazen theft in December 2019. Caesar’s theft prompted a joint police, media and community effort leading to its recovery nine months later.
Minister for Planning Paul Scully said the sculpture honours the loyal service of Caesar and his fellow tracker dogs, as well as the rich military history of the Edmondson Park-Bardia area.
“This site has a significant military history as it was used as a Staging Camp during World War II, Korea and Vietnam before deployment and was also the place many veterans transitioned out of the ADF after their return from operations,” Mr Scully said.
“I am proud that commemorations on this development are introducing new generations of Australians to this part of our wartime history – a story that many may not know about yet.
“Landcom has put thousands of people in homes across NSW and it is a testament to the quality of these developments that our rich military history is preserved and recognised throughout the Edmondson Park-Bardia development.”
Landcom CEO Alex Wendler said the sculpture of Caeser recognises the close bonds formed between handlers and their tracker dogs that helped to save many lives over the course of the Vietnam War.
“Caesar, a Labrador Kelpie cross, was bought from a Sydney dog refuge for $2 by the Australian Army in 1966 and trained to become one of eleven combat tracking dogs who served during the Vietnam War,” Mr Wendler said.
“Before being transformed by Landcom into a vibrant community with thousands of homes, shopping centres, and schools, the Edmondson Park area was home to the former Ingleburn Army Camp where Caesar and his first handler, Peter Haran, were trained before being sent to Vietnam.
“Landcom is recognising and celebrating the rich military history of the area through street names and new public artwork such as the statue of Caesar shared with the public today.
Speaking from Adelaide, Caesar’s original handler and Vietnam veteran Peter Haran said he arrived with Caesar in Vietnam when he turned 19 years old.
“Many adventures, many harrowing times, many moments of horror and moments of elation I spent with him during my time in Vietnam and he became the closest friend that I could ever have,” Mr Haran said.
“For the sculpture to be placed so close to the dogs’ original home is something I could never have imagined and the fact that every member of the public using this railway station will see him is just an amazing thing. It means that Caesar and his mates will never be forgotten.”
The sculptor, Ochre Lawson, said he hoped people will interact with Caesar by patting him, but maybe they might also consider reading about the history of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and the involvement of animals in war and how that affected them.
For more information about the Edmondson Park project visit www.landcom.com.au/edmondsonpark.