A NEW soldier is standing sentinel on the road up to Pyramid Hill, greeting passers-by in the lead up to Anzac Day.
The hay-bale soldier's creators have affectionately named him Ray in honour of Ray Leed, one of the 28 boys who left the region for the war, and who was one of 10 who never made it back home.
Ray Leed's descendants have erected the memorial at the turn off to Mologa, on the Pyramid Hill-Bendigo Road, along with an image of a poppy and a rising sun badge.
Denise and Allan Leed live in the house Ray grew up in and began creating hay bale art last Australia Day.
Mrs Leed said it had taken the better part of five years to convince her husband it would be a fun idea and worth displaying the bales so prominently.
He had feared they would end up looking a bit like an ear from a piece by Pablo Picaso, she said.
Instead, the works had proven a complete success and were followed up over Easter with a hay bale bunny and crosses.
Mrs Leed's creations had created quite an impression on those travelling through the area, especially over Easter as people made the long trip north to holiday on the Murray River.
Many had stopped to get pictures or just admire them. People were even making detours to pass through, she had heard.
"The real battle was installing it all (the Anzac Day pieces) yesterday as 100s of cars went past, with drivers tooting and waving at me," Mrs Leed said.
The pieces were also triggering conversations about the area in the lead up to Anzac commemoration services.
These days, Mologa has just one residential property, but it also has a World War One memorial and annual services honouring diggers, Mrs Leed said.
One will take place at 8am Thursday and Mrs Leed said everyone was welcome to attend.
She encouraged anyone in the area to get in touch if they had any ideas for future straw pieces, or suggest any ways to beg, borrow or steal more bale canvases.
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