“Ziggy the Bagman”, Brisbane’s most popular homeless person, is still living the life of his choice, this time in Taringa.

Ziggy’s real name is Marian Zbygnew Wilczek. He came into the public view in Toowong 17 years ago, when business owners in the Toowong called for his removal from their neighbourhood.

His years in Toowong were tumultuous. He was even attacked in his small home by various groups, all asking him to leave their suburb. During that time, Spencer Howson, an ABC presenter, hatched a campaign to give Ziggy a home. He called it “Operation Ziggy.” However, Ziggy declined to be part of the campaign.

That very same year, Bruce Chapman painted Ziggy’s portrait and entered his painting in the Archibald Prize. Surprisingly, Ziggy only asked for $8 worth of ice cream, soda, and biscuits, in exchange for sitting for the portrait.

Not much is known about Ziggy’s life. In 2004, his sister-in-law surfaced and said that Ziggy’s life today is entirely his choice. She revealed that Ziggy’s decision to live his itinerant life came after the death of his mother. It was then that Ziggy said goodbye to his brother and his sister-in-law. Ziggy also apparently has Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.

After moving to various locations within Toowong and enduring several attacks there over the years, Ziggy has now settled in a Taringa park between Morrow Street and Moggill Road.

Taringa residents seem to have taken a liking to him. Taringa residents understand his need for space and do leave him alone; but they also give him food occasionally, gestures which Ziggy accepts gratefully.

Other than the occasional neighbourly gestures, both Taringa neighbours and Ziggy maintain their distance from each other, respecting their boundaries. After all, Ziggy has made it clear that all he wants is to be left alone.

For now, it looks like Ziggy has found a home and some peace in Taringa, where people leave him be, and he is often seen with his plastic bags, and his red and white umbrella.

Photo credit: http://mypolice.qld.gov.au/