House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Constituency Statements

Gilmore Electorate: Anzac Centenary

10:28 am

Photo of Ann SudmalisAnn Sudmalis (Gilmore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

One hundred years ago, it was reported that on Monday morning 30 November 1915 the Nowra showground was a hive of activity as recruits, organisers and supporters feverishly prepared for the departure of the Waratah Recruiting March. Leaving the showground shortly before 9.20, the contingent marched the short distance down the Junction Street slope to the Nowra Post Office on the corner of Berry Street. With most of the shops closed so that everyone could attend, there was huge crowd gathered from all parts of the district, with estimates ranging from 2,000 to 4,000. The Waratah Recruiting March, which travelled from Nowra to Sydney just prior to Christmas in 1915 was one of a number organised around the state following the success of the Coo-ee March.

On Sunday morning 29 November 2015, the local Nowra community re-enacted this significant event of patriotism that took place so long ago. Two years ago, the Anzac commemorative grants committee met to discuss the various submissions that had been put forward. Most were to upgrade memorials or for special events surrounding Anzac Day itself. These two projects were quite different. Since then these projects have been developed. The first was to enable the publication of a commemorative book, The Waratahs: South Coast recruiting march 1915, written by Alan Clark OAM. Other members of the historical society, Robyn Florance and Timothy Rigney were the driving force for this outstanding project and they also worked tirelessly on the background research for the waratah recruiting re-enactment.

The second major project was coordinated, organised and created by two tenacious and dedicated local veterans, Clyde Poulton and Rick Meehan. They were the catalysts involving many RSL members and community groups and gathering the public for the journey down memory lane. They also organised a steam train for the day from the Lachlan Valley Railway. There is nothing like the experience of yesteryear, such as catching a stream train amidst the noise, the soot and the excitement, to remind you of the past.

I congratulate Helen Clark for making the duplicate silk flag, the historic society for their passion and research, and the Berry co-op for their memorabilia display.

I could not have been more proud than when I read the speech from the federal member of the day, the Hon. Austin Chapman. I heard Nowra Public singing, watched the members of the re-enactment Light Horse Brigade as they paraded their magnificent horses down Berry Street, watched the re-enactment recruits under orders from Clyde Poulton aka Captain Ernest Blow, saw the members of Vincentia Red Cross dressed as their predecessors from the Red Cross of 1915, and then marched across the Nowra Bridge. The Nowra Town Band was wonderful and the Scottish Pipes and Drums took our steps all the way to the railway station. Peter Williams, with his famous bugle, was part of the service and Marilyn, his wife, was dressed in the uniform of the Salvation Army of that period. The cadets of the TS Shoalhaven did the unit proud with their great drumming. Finally, HMAS Albatross contributed a flyover by a helicopter—not quite a commemorative event, but certainly welcomed by everyone.

It is not easy to have roads closed, marching people and steam trains all working together, but they pulled it off and it was magic. (Time expired)