Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Blair Electorate: Centenary of Armistice
Recently I had the honour of driving to Toogoolawah in the northern part of Blair to attend the opening of an exhibit commemorating the Centenary of Armistice. The exhibit titled An End to Conflictwas funded in part through the Blair Armistice Centenary Grants Program and is being hosted by the Somerset Regional Art Gallery, The Condensery, until the end of this week.
More than $10,000 from the grants program went towards a fantastic display of period memorabilia, including medals, photographs, letters and uniforms, loaned to the art gallery by local families, and World War I bikes loaned by the well-known Brisbane collector Wayne Norris. They give an insight into life in Australia, particularly the Somerset region, at the outbreak of World War I. The exhibits recognise Somerset's local heroes—men and women who served in World War I. The items displayed are significant to the people of Somerset and surrounds, particularly the ancestors of these heroes. Information about World War I airman Major Roderic Stanley Dallas, born just north of Toogoolawah, is displayed, continuing the sharing of local stories. Also featured are stories about medical pioneer Dr Edith Fox, the Air Aces, the Australian Cycling Corps, Esk Hospital and the Light Horse.
The exhibits aim to bring the World War I experience to a younger generation, with many local schools having visited. The Why War paintings by Toogoolawah resident and internationally-recognised artist Merton Chambers were displayed, along with an installation of remembrance poppies collated by artists Christine Just of Karana Downs and Jayne Hodge. The Condensery curated six limited edition prints of works by World War I soldier and artist Tom Cross.
The project was kicked off with a commemorative service, themed 'Celebrating a just and secure peace', held in McConnell Park in the grounds of the Toogoolawah War Memorial. I was honoured to join Group Captain Kathleen Pyne from RAAF Base Amberley—the largest defence base in Australia, in the heart of my electorate—and the mayor of Somerset Regional Council, Graeme Lehmann, to unveil a plaque.
The Toogoolawah and District History Group, guided by Beryce Nelson, have put on a spectacular display. On Remembrance Day I opened the Lowood RSL subbranch's Centenary of Armistice memorial drive—a 600-metre strip lined with native Australian flora, including Dawson River Weepers and Spirit of Anzac grevilleas. This native flora dedication was also funded by $16,000 from the Blair Armistice Centenary Grants Program. I want to congratulate local schools and the descendants of service men and women who took part in the dedication. I congratulate the local RSL for the work they do and all the RSLs across Ipswich and Somerset who received grants.