Monday, 8 February 2016
McMillan Electorate: Coal Creek Community Park and Museum
Recently I was privileged to be at the opening of the refurbished Anzac room at the Coal Creek Community Park and Museum in the beautiful South Gippsland township of Korumburra. Much work has gone into the Anzac room. Hanging in pride of place is an Australian flag—a very worn flag, a flag that is at least 100 years old. Very little is known about who owned the flag that is so fragile, but what is known is that it was taken to the Great War and somehow found its way back home.
There is also a large photographic board with photos of the local men who died in the war. On 19 June 1916, in one day, 10 young men from Korumburra and 11 young men from nearby Leongatha were killed. The Anzac room has been dedicated to the Dawes brothers, and it was a very special event for the Dawes family, who were present for the opening. The four Dawes brothers from the Korumburra-Poowong area in South Gippsland went to the Great War. Of the four brothers, only one returned. Three of the brothers—George, Charles and Richard—were killed in action in some of the bloodiest fighting of World War I. One brother, George, was killed at Gallipoli and the other two brothers, Charles and Richard, were killed within a day of each other at the Somme.
The story of the Dawes brothers has been recorded in a book written by brothers Tony and Andrew Moon with some assistance from a third brother, Michael, a retired brigadier. The book has taken some four years to write and tells a heartbreaking story of sacrifice, bravery and tragedy. This book, which is to be officially launched later in the year, will ensure that their legacy and the pain felt by this tight-knit rural community will be remembered.
Special mention and credit go to Rowena Ashley, the site coordinator, Mrs Zoe Sargant, the curatorial officer, and Emma Fellows-Cooke, the education program leader, for their care. It has resulted in a quiet room that demands respect as you move around it.
It was a sad day but a happy day for all those who participated in the restoration of the room, especially in this year, the Anzac year. The mayor was there, the councillors were there and, to our great pleasure, those of us who are old enough to remember it all stood and sang God Save the Queen, to remember the times and the flag that those people fought under and never returned.