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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – Friday 16th to Thursday 29th April 2004


Bob & Shirley’s ‘Yetaboon’ Pilgrimage (continued)


[Reporter: Gerry PECK; Photographer: Vera HARPER; ‘EadItter: George MILLIE]



Day Ten – ANZAC Day in Toowoomba


Vera Harper’s photographic images of ANZAC Day


Sunday 25th April

Today was earmarked for a trip to Toowoomba where the Millie’s would be hosts for the day. As the first item on the agenda was attending the ANZAC Day ceremonies we set off bright and early, leaving Yetaboon’ at 06.30 hrs and travelling via the Logan toll way and the Warrego highway. Reg, Vera, Bob and Shirley were due to leave from “Harper’s Bizarre”, Anstead at 06.45 hrs, and although we kept an eye out for their car as we drove west along the Warrego highway there was no sign of them. With very little traffic we made excellent time through the picturesque valleys along the route to the garden city of Toowoomba. Cresting the rise at the top of the Great Dividing Range we turned right into the outer fringes of the city. Passing Weis Restaurant, where the other group had booked an all-you-can-eat breakfast, we noticed a car of identical make and colour to mine in the restaurant car park and ventured a guess that this would cause the other party some confusion - it did. We arrived at the Millie’s home at 08.00 hrs, having covered the 145 kilometres journey in reasonable time.


George and Marion immediately donned the mantle of gracious hosts and after a refreshing drink and a few minutes of relaxation, George and I then slipped into the bedrooms in order to change into our “regimentals”. George and Marion live in a “home unit”, which is a single-storey terraced dwelling with two large bedrooms and all mod cons, very comfortable indeed and the entire complex is well served with rotunda’s and BBQ areas set amidst excellent gardens. The other group finally arrived after doing justice to the spread at Weis’s, and Reg hastily donned his gear ready for the ANZAC Parade.


We set off for the parade, found a good parking spot on the periphery of the Queen’s Park botanical gardens, and headed on foot through the beautiful parklands towards the adjacent “Mothers’ Memorial Park” which contains Toowoomba’s cenotaph - “Mothers’ Memorial”. Reaching the cordoned-off section near the cenotaph we found ourselves a good vantage point and waited for the marchers to arrive. The pale blue berets worn by George and me were complemented by several similarly attired serving members of the Army Aviation Training Centre, Oakey [Oakey is to Toowoomba as Middle Wallop is to Andover]. The first signs of the marchers soon became evident as the sounds of martial music gradually became louder. We then saw the first of the many proud banners over the heads of the crowd lining the park’s periphery where people stood in their hundreds lining the route from the city centre. First up was the Wilsonton State Junior School band making an excellent fist of the music; then came hundreds of marching people, ranging from veterans of many conflicts, serving soldiers, various cadet formations in impressive numbers, and close kin of veterans proudly wearing on their right breast the medals of their military ancestors. Interspersed at intervals were various bands, both brass and pipe, all in excellent fettle and doing a wonderful job.


The cenotaph was manned by members of the Army Aviation Regiment from Oakey and the entire ceremony, from start to finish, was carried out with wonderful precision and great sincerity. A truly moving experience for all of us but especially so for Bob and Shirley, who were stunned by the turnout and magnitude of what they saw. Who could fail to be proud of one’s uniformed service when faced with such a moving and emotional spectacle as this? After the ceremony was over, we four ex-Brats moved to the base of the cenotaph, faced front, and made a personal salute to the fallen.


Reg, Gerry, George & Bob at the Mothers’ Memorial


Wending our way back across the two parks to the cars we drove to ‘La Maison de Millie’ for a wonderful repast prepared for us by Marion. We were joined by Robin and Jeanette Lamont, long-time friends of George and Marion from their Singapore days (1969-1973). Robin, a Scot by birth, as a Regular Soldier served with the Australian Army (547 Signals Troop) in Vietnam (1967-1968). Excellent company, they shared the soldierly humour and bonhomie that always manifests itself at our gatherings. It was a superb way to complete a wonderful day. Bob and Shirley returned with us to ‘Yetaboon’ and we set out on the journey home just before dusk, again making very good time, as the traffic was moving quite freely.



Day Eleven


Published: April 2004