The bronze monument of aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave has been discovered dumped by the side of the road in Otford after going missing on Friday.
Vandals ripped the large monument from its cement base sometime between Thursday evening and Friday morning. A crowbar was found behind the concrete base, while a large chain was seen in the car park the morning after the monument was stolen.
Marks in the car park and on Lawrence Hargrave Drive indicated the monument, which was first erected on August 3, 1940, had been dragged several hundred metres.
On Monday afternoon, the monument was discovered near dense bushland off Lady Wakehurst Drive, about 400 metres from its usual resting place. There were a few visible scratches, however, it was otherwise undamaged.
Wollongong Police acting inspector Rob Vergano said police were waiting for Wollongong City Council employees to move the monument.
The monument shows Lawrence Hargrave with one of his famous box kites, which helped him achieve flight in 1894.
Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino said the removal of the monument had prompted a rethink about how the site would be managed in the future.
"It needs to be reinstated into a position of honour, but done in such a way as the risk of it being stolen again or defaced is reduced," he said.
"It has to be looked at in a far more protective manner than it was treated in the past."