Tuesday, 20 October 2015
KANGAROO MARCH RE-ENACTMENT
Ms PRU GOWARD (Goulburn—Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) [9.56 p.m.]: The re-enactment of the Kangaroo March is one of the great events that has taken place in the Goulburn electorate this year. Members will be aware that there were several enlistment marches during the First World War in New South Wales. Collectively, they were known as the cooee marches. Their purpose was to add to the number of troops that the new nation of Australia was to send to the Great War then raging in the Middle East and in France. To mark the centenary of the marches, which occurred in the same year as the Gallipoli landings, committees were formed around the State to organise re-enactments. A century earlier, bands of citizens had also formed to organise the original marches, and the march from Wagga Wagga to Campbelltown, where a troop train waited, was known as the Kangaroo March.
This year, despite the efforts of many groups around New South Wales, only the Kangaroo March re-enacted the entire 520-kilometre, 36-day journey by foot. It faithfully followed the original highway, known as the Great South Road, as it wound through towns and hamlets. We owe the small organising committee a great debt. I have come to know most of its members very well over the past few years as they have worked their way through the tortures of insurance, permission from Roads and Maritime Services, daily commemorative ceremonies and the organisation of local supplies for the small group of people who walk the entire march. Needless to say, the marchers were joined along the way by local people who were happy to walk or ride a few kilometres. Evening celebrations were blessed with performances by local children's choirs and other performers who are often direct descendants of the original marchers.
We must take our hats off to OJ Rushton, who performed at all the community events, directing local choirs and the RSL Commemorative Children's Choir, which she formed. For good measure, she also threw in a new anthem that she wrote, which was sung lustily on each occasion. I saw her in Breadalbane when she entertained the local community, as she did every night, with gusto. She looked exhausted despite having three weeks to go. Rhondda Vanzella, known to many of us here, was also a great organiser, who ensured every person in her address book who could give a speech or donate money or time was ensnared in the great Kangaroo March re-enactment. We have only to ask Brendan Nelson, director of the Australian War Memorial, how he came to give so many speeches down our way.
OJ did not do it alone, of course. Nick Illek, my admirable associate, managed the paperwork; president Graham Brown, who also heads a lighthorse re-enactment troop, gave a hearty recruitment speech of the type that locals might well have heard a century ago—resplendent with rhetorical flourishes and suitable references to the "Hun" and to "white feathers"—David Williamson conducted the service; and Jan Brown and Angela Williamson, along with Julie Scandrett, played solo parts. And they all dressed in period costume every day. Of course, local RSL groups ensured there were returned soldiers and access to memorials. Historical societies dug out photographs and display materials and local schoolchildren presented, as part of the service, small biographies of local men who had joined the march.
The tireless organisational efforts of Sally McLean in Breadalbane, Jackie Waugh in Goulburn, and Christine Jannsen in Bundanoon, among others, cannot be ignored. Thank you for bringing our history to life so that we may give thanks for the sacrifices of our forefathers with greater insight and appreciation. I was delighted to welcome Premier Mike Baird and the Minister for Corrections, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister for Veterans Affairs, David Elliott, to Bundanoon for a celebration that the entire community took part in, including children ostensibly on school holidays. The Premier was showered with our famous hospitality and could see how meaningful it is for country communities like mine to be able to actively join in our nation's Centenary of Anzac—for once not watching it on the telly, but being part of it and proud of it.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.00 p.m.]: I congratulate the member for Goulburn on bringing this important commemoration to the House. I congratulate everyone involved in what I would describe as an adventurous memorial to the 88 brave men who marched out of Wagga Wagga and finished in Camden with 220 men. Twenty of those men never returned to this country. It is fitting that we recognise their great sacrifice and contribution. I put on record the Government's thanks to members of Parliament who have assisted along the way and also to those marches that will occur next year, such as the Cooee march in your electorate of Northern Tablelands, Mr Temporary Speaker, which will start at Inverell on 9 January. It is important that communities commemorate the great efforts that were made to enlist servicemen through the marches. The re-enactment is a credit to the organising committee, and I congratulate its members.