7 June 2024

Oh my Cod! GoFundMe launched to resurrect Wagga's iconic Murray cod

| Chris Roe
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The iconic Murray Cod has been lifted away for repairs.

The iconic Murray cod has been lifted away for repairs. Photo: Supplied.

Good news Wagga Wagga! Our beloved big Murray cod is set to make a triumphant return as the property’s new owner is working to restore the local icon to its former glory.

For years the big cod on the Eastern side of Wagga Wagga has welcomed travelers on the Sturt Highway to the city and served as a landmark that both promoted the Murray Cod Hatchery and celebrated our connection to the Murrumbidgee River.

But since the fauna park and the hatchery closed and the property fell into disrepair, so too did the iconic cod.

The paint faded, the tin sides began to peel away, and in the last year, vandals added the ultimate indignity with a hastily sprayed graffiti tag defacing what remained of our once proud fish.

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When local builder Kyle North-Flanagan took over the property near the old hatchery, which includes the driveway where the cod sits, he put its restoration on his to-do list.

“Even with the way it was, you’d still see people stopping to get a photo with it, and everyone remembers the hatchery, so it was really something that we wanted to do,” he said.

“We’ve started work this week; we’ve pulled it down and we’ll take off the old sheet metal and then go through and replace the bits that have rusted and strengthen it all up.

“We want to get it looking like it used to so it’ll be the exact same shape and we’re getting it all repainted so it looks fresh.”

A 1990 brochure from the old Murray Cod Hatcheries and Fauna Park

A 1990 brochure from the old Murray Cod Hatcheries and Fauna Park. Photo: Museum of the Riverina (WWCC collection).

Local signwriter and airbrush artist Dan Seddon from Signs Plus has been tasked with bringing the cod back to life.

“I remember going out there when I was a kid so it will be great to get it looking good again,” Dan said.

“It’s all going to be hand-painted and two-coat cleared so it’ll last a lifetime.”

In terms of how it will look, Dan said he wants to remain true to the original design but will add a modern touch or two.

“We want to make it look a little bit photorealistic but still like it’s been painted. You don’t want to make it too perfect, otherwise we could just put a sticker on it,” he explained.

“We’ve got some really good old photos to work from and we want to make it look as good as we can and to really honour the history.”

Big Cod

The big cod was once on Australia’s list of ‘Big Things’. Photo: Australia For Everyone.

Wagga videographer and keen angler Grant Higginson knows Kyle through OzFish Unlimited and is helping to get a fundraising campaign up and running.

“It’s the first memorable landmark you see as you come into town and Kyle was chatting with me and other OzFish members about what he wanted to do, and he was doing it off his own bat, so we looked at how we might help,” he said.

“Since I launched to GoFundMe and posted on Facebook we’ve already got a whole bunch of people commenting saying, ‘Oh, this is great’, ‘I wanted this to be restored for ages’, ‘I remember going there as a kid with my dad’ or something like that.

“So I think it already shows that it has merit and by doing the crowdfunding, the community can feel that they have ownership of it and can really get behind it.”

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The GoFundMe target of $10,000 will cover the restoration work of the frame, the airbrushing and the repair and repainting of the brickwork and donations of more than $500 will get your name on a plaque.

While the original sign promoted the now-defunct Murray Cod Hatchery, Kyle said they are looking at adding a new twist.

“Yeah, we’re definitely gonna rebrand it,” he said.

“I’m not sure what we’re gonna call him yet, maybe the Mighty Murray Cod or something like that, but we’ll get together and come up with something.”

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