Statue unveiled in Gympie is legacy of tragic historic figure Lady Mary Fitzroy

Statue unveiled in Gympie is legacy of tragic historic figure Lady Mary Fitzroy

The tragic but romantic story behind the naming of the Mary River has been honoured on Valentine's Day with a new public artwork.

A life-sized bronze statue has been installed in Gympie, Queensland, honouring the city's connection with Lady Mary Fitzroy (nee Lennox) and her role in shaping the region, despite having never having set foot in the area.

British aristocrat Lady Mary Lennox met her future husband, Sir Charles August Fitzroy, on a trip to Paris in 1819.

The couple married the following year and moved to Australia in 1846.

Sir Charles held governorships in several British colonies before being becoming the 10th governor of New South Wales and then, the first governor-general of Australia in 1850.

Historic records show Lady Mary was well-respected as a compassionate philanthropist but tragically, she was killed by a carriage outside Parliament House in Sydney in 1847.

The following year, a heartbroken Governor Fitzroy toured Queensland and named landmarks along the way in memory of his wife.

Included were the Mary River and Maryborough, Mary Street and Mary Terrace.

Although she never visited Gympie, Lady Mary has left a lasting legacy through her namesake, the Mary River, said Gympie Regional Art gallery co-ordinator Joolie Gibbs.

"We love our Mary River, but very few would know the sad, romantic story behind the name," she said.

The $30,000 sculpture created by Sydney artists Gillie and Marc features Lady Mary dipping her toe into the water — in recognition of the impact floods have had on Gympie.

The sculpture also marks the launch of a new historic walking trail for the city.

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