By Beckie Wilson
A family farm park established as a memorial to victims of the 2012 balloon tragedy has shut its gates.
Wallowing Heights in Clareville was founded by Leanne and Clayton Brown following the crash which happened on their Somerset Rd property.
Hundreds of people have passed through the farm park’s gates since it opened.
The Browns said they decided to close the park because of Mr Clayton’s current poor health.
The daily maintenance of caring for the farm animals had become too much to handle.
“We have really enjoyed the people we have met,” Mrs Brown said.
“We haven’t come to the decision very lightly… it is a sad thing to have to do.”
Among the 11 people who were killed in January, 2012 when the hot air balloon struck powerlines were Chrisjan Jordaan and Alexis Still.
The young couple jumped from the burning basket, landing in the Browns’ paddock. Mrs Brown performed CPR on the couple but they didn’t survive.
Weeks after the horror crash, Mrs Brown noticed families of the victims would come and visit the crash site and admire her piglets.
That triggered the idea to open a public petting zoo for victims’ friends and families to visit, as well as the public to enjoy.
They named the farm park Wallowing Heights after Mrs Brown’s pig breeding stud name.
The couple also planted a selection of 11 fruit trees in memory of each of the balloon crash victims.
Since then, the couple set up the successful petting zoo complete with donkeys, horses, sheep, cows, pigs, bearded dragons and blue tongued lizards.
“We have had a lot of special people come through, including many children with disabilities, and we hope we have touched them with their experiences with the animals,” she said.
The couple bought the property 14-years ago when Mrs Brown began breeding pedigree pigs as a hobby.
Once they rehome the park’s animals, the pair will go back to breeding the pigs as a hobby while Mr Brown recuperates.
“We would like to thank the people who have come and supported us in the past four years,” she said.
While Wallowing Heights has officially closed, they will host two more Christmas and birthday parties before the end of the year.