QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA –
Wednesday 25th April 2007
[Reporter: Gerry PECK 53A]
ANZAC Day in
Blazer and accoutrements all sorted, shoes gleaming with a Guards style
finish, I readied the car for a journey to Toowoomba and the annual event of
marching the parade route with my mates George and Reg, a small but very
proud Arborfield Army Apprentices School contingent amongst a very large
assembly of marchers. Maggie and I were ready for the off at 06.30, right on
The weather promised to be fine until late afternoon up on the ranges where
Toowoomba is situated and the March was scheduled to set off from the
assembly point at 10.00 hrs sharp.
The journey up was a breeze, very light traffic on the Warrego Highway and
the car tootled along with the cruise control set at the speed limit of 100
KPH. There are a few places along the way where the 80 KPH limit applies but
we know the route like the back of our hands and re-set the CC as we
approached the warning signs. A couple of radar traps were noticed along the
way but thanks to the CC, we were in no danger of tripping one of those.
We hit a patch of fog (low cloud) at the very top of the range on the
outskirts of Toowoomba, a quick loo halt at Queens park and then we drove on
the last three kilometres to George and Marion Millie's place, arriving
there at 08.00 hrs. Total journey is 131 kilometres, so that wasn't bad at
George's grandson Aaron was marching with us, on behalf of and representing
no less than ten members of the Dark Family that served in the great or
second World wars, Dark is Aarons patronym. I always suspected that George
had a dark side. ;)
All kitted up, we drove down to the end of Queen's park and parked the car,
the ladies and George's son Andrew ( as escort) were going down by taxi.
Because the roads are closed for the march, we had to set off and walk the
whole route to get to the assembly point, meeting Marion, Maggie and Andrew on
the way, as the taxi had dropped them off by one of the blocked off side
roads further down the route.
Once at the assembly point, George went off to try and locate Reg Harper, who
had not been sure of his ability to make the march this year due to very bad
problems with his prosthesis. Reg had decided to chance his leg and do the
march and was having a cup of coffee in a favoured watering hole of ours when
George located him.
Normally, the BESA (British Ex Servicemans Association) are the tail enders
of the veterans portion of the parade and form up very near the cafe where
Reg had his coffee. This year though, BESA was given the honour of carrying
the torch of remembrance and thus were the first unit in order of march.
With fine weather, plus some relief from the sun by way of slowly gathering
clouds and a blessed cooling breeze, we set off on the mile long route to the
Toowoomba Cenotaph. The way was crowded, as it always is, by large numbers of
very enthusiastic onlookers. These crowds lined every metre of the kerbsides
as we marched to the tunes of 'Waltzing Matilda', 'The road to Gundagai' and
other familiar and long revered Australian tunes.
The densest crowd is always near the entry to the parkland in which the
Cenotaph is located, as almost all of the people who turn out to watch also
stay for the ceremonies. Once safely on station around the Cenotaph, bottles
of water were issued to every manjack of us and much appreciated too.
The ceremonies were carried out with military precision, thanks to the
presence of Australian regular forces from the nearby Army Aviation centre at
Oakey and elsewhere, Oakey also provided a flypast by two Harvard trainers
and two helicopters. Always involved as participants, are the cadet branches
of the three Services too and their drill was exemplary as they performed
several of the duties embedded in the ceremonies.
Representatives of every walk of life and people of all ages are part and
parcel of the ANZAC ceremonies and the presence and enthusiasm of youngsters
right down to cub scouts and guides is a vibrant part of what goes on. The
whole community is involved and devoted to the day. I cannot speak too highly
of the commitment, involvement and dedication of the entire community of
The colours, the emotion, the pageantry and spirit of comradeship is
superlative, second to none in my opinion and to share such an occasion with
truly precious mates from my old Alma Mater, is a priceless joy to me. One
that I wouldn't miss for quids. Memories were evoked of Roy Ashman, Bob
Langley and Cliff Charlesworth, who have attended or marched with us on
It is thanks entirely to the existence of a forum for the AOBA, that I am
there to attend this magnificent event, shared as the experience is with
people ( the closest of friends ) that have come to mean so much to me. For
without it I would never have known that there were others of my ilk living
close enough to me for contact to be made and maintained.
To that end, I am delighted to see it flourishing and being appreciated by
all who utilise it.
I should add that the latter part of the day was highlighted by an excellent
meal and good quality wines, all due to the good offices of the Lamont
family, friends of George and Marion since their shared time in Singapore.
Robin and Jeanette's son David promised us a superlative meal at his
establishment and he delivered. Then a couple of hours spent at chez Millie
to swing the lantern and relax, rounded off the day very nicely indeed.
Millie Greg Peck Reg Harper
A much wider selection of
photos of the 2007 Toowoomba ANZAC DAY celebrations can be found at:
Click on slideshow at the top right hand corner of the screen.
This link takes you to a dedicated
web site established by Vera Harper and we appreciate access to it.
Published: 1st May 2007