An early representation of Australian mateship, standing proud in the centre of Ballarat, will soon be replaced.
The 117-year-old Boer War Memorial statue in the Sturt Street gardens outside Ballarat Town Hall has been deemed beyond repair.
City of Ballarat has opened tenders on December 6 for the deaccession of the original and to create a like-for-like replacement.
The statue depicts a moment in 1901 when 26-year-old Australian soldier Sergeant James Rogers, turned from retreat in a firefight in Thaba'Nchu to rescue his officer Lieutenant Dickinson, whose horse had been shot from under him.
Outnumbered 10 to one, Sergeant Rogers delivered the officer to safety then repeatedly returned to the fight to rescue other men while firing at the Boer guerrillas. For his bravery Rogers was awarded a Victoria Cross.
City of Ballarat mayor Des Hudson said this has become an inconic statue and an important part of the fabric of Ballarat.
"All our statues in our collection are important. The Boer War memorial depicts a soldier in a show of mateship that ran in early forms in Eureka through to that and run through to the Anzacs," Cr Hudson said.
"The position it has held in Ballarat, sitting here about 117 years, is teaching of its day. But it is failing and has reached the end of its life."
Often mistaken for being made of bronze, the state is constructed from beaten copper with a hessian and plaster core. This inside is visible where one of the soldier's legs has fallen off.
The statue was last removed for restoration 40 years ago and remedial works were carried out on site in 2020.
Specialised radiographic surveys and videoscope investigations have revealed extensive corrosion in critical locations. This has made further restorations not viable.
The statue will be replaced by a permanent bronze statue in the same three-quarter life size of the James White original, which opened on November 1 in 1906, atop a plinth in the gardens. The foundation stone was laid on 18 May 1901 by His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, who later became King George V.
Cr Hudson hoped the replacement would last more than a century in its place.
The statue is listed on the Victorian War Heritage Inventory and will be replaced in a $285,000 project supported by a $50,000 state government grant for restoring community war memorials.
Cr Hudson said the original statue would be offered to descendants of the renowned artist James White.
The statue is likely to remain in place for the upcoming AusCycling Road National Championships in early January, with the criteriums a key attraction for Sturt Street.
Tender applications for the works close on January 31, 2024.