Festival loses key historical attraction

Smeaton is having to deal with the the theft of one of its most historic attractions on the eve of its biggest festival at Anderson's Mill.

A valuable casting pattern of the centre hub of the Anderson's Mill water wheel has been stolen.

The item is believed to be at least 150 years old and was hand picked by thieves, leaving other items behind. 

The Anderson's Mill festival one its busiest times of year is expected to draw in large crowds this Sunday.

Ranger in charge, Southern Goldfields Karen Doyle said rangers had discovered the large hub missing more than a week ago. 

She said she believed it was stolen by someone who knew of its historical significance. 

"I reckon it is a collectable, it is a trophy. It is someone who knows how valuable it is," she said. 

"We just know how important it is, so we are shocked and a bit sad about it all, we just want it back."

The theft is believed to have occurred sometime between Sunday March 23 and Tuesday March 25. 

The casting is made of wood, weighs more than 30 kilograms and is smaller than a tractor tyre in size. 

"It is usually locked and secure and there is no sign of forced entry so we think this is an organised theft and was well planned," she said. 

"It is a bit of a mystery as to how it happened."

Police are investigating the incident, however, Ms Doyle said she was hopeful it would be returned.

"We are offering the opportunity for people to return it without further questions because we really just want it back," he said. 

"It is quite a serious theft and we are just hoping the public can help us if they have information that could help it be returned." 

The casting is on display at the festival every year. 

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Parks Victoria Creswick Office on 5321 4800.

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