Among the trees at the Southbank Parklands is a very Australian image – a statue of a man and his dog, or more specifically, a drover and his dog.
Apart from the fact that it is a nice piece of Australiana, the drover’s dog also has a neat little story attached to it.
The statue was commissioned in the 1980s for the foyer of the new 35-storey AMP building which went up on its own island known as AMP Place in Eagle St.
It stood out not only because it was the tallest building in the CBD when it was completed in 1977, but also because of the striking gold glass used in its construction.
Not surprisingly, it was quickly dubbed the Gold Tower. A much smaller building in the same gold glass was built beside it on the island.
The story goes that when the premier’s wife, Flo Bjelke-Petersen attended the official opening, she remarked that the buildings looked like a bronzed Aussie and his blue heeler dog.
I must admit a drover and his dog doesn’t spring to mind but nevertheless, the statue was commissioned for the foyer of the building.
When the AMP foyer was renovated a couple of decades later, the statue was gifted to South Bank Corporation.
He now looks a bit more at home in the gardens of Picnic Island Green near The Arbour behind the amphitheatre, looking towards the high-rise buildings of Grey Street
The statue could reasonably be dedicated to Bill Hayden, the former federal member for Oxley in southwest Brisbane, who famously said that “a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory, the way the country is” when he was replaced by Bob Hawke just before the 1983 federal election.
The 135m AMP building, which is now dwarfed by its neighbours in Eagle St, remained the highest building until 1986 when the Riverside Centre was built to 142m.
Today it doesn’t even make the top 10 highest buildings, with the tower at 1 William St almost double its height at 260m.