554 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba QLD Australia • Freecall: 1800 633 679

Penguin Mystery Solved

18 Apr

Penguin Mystery Solved

Media Release 18/04/2018

The mystery of the marble penguin that once greeted guests at the former Lennon’s Hotel has been solved after 38 years!

Shillam the one-tonne marble, sculpture created in 1957 has been found and restored to his original glory.

Shillam was believed stolen from Lennon’s Hotel pool on Ruthven Street for decards, with his disappearance a thing of urban legend.

But his journey is far less sinister, with the piece, designed and created by Leonard Shillam in 1957, sold as part of the Lennon’s Hotel sale in 1980.

The Ruthven Street Hotel then became Burke & Wills Hotel which in recent years was bought by the Hakfoort Group. The group as part of is major redevelopment, made a public appeal for Shillams safe return. Hakfoort Group CEO Albert Hakfoort initially stumped up $10,000 for his return but yesterday doubled that to $20,000.


After some years as a garden ornament in Toowoomba, Shillam was restored and installed at Phillip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane, where he is for sale for $22,000.

“He’s had a funny life” Gallery owner Phillip Bacon said. “He’s a serious piece of art by Leonard and Kath Shillam who were major Queensland and Australian Sculptors.”

Mr Bacon has contacted Burke & Wills Hotel owners Hakfoort group. Mr. Hakfoort said that discovery filled in Shillams history and in the coming weeks he would investigate its authenticity.

“If it’s the real thing we will be tickled pink” he said. “We’ll be one step closer to restoring Burke & Wills to its former glory which was a five-star hotel, and it just adds to the story and association of the hotel in Toowoomba”