Our final destination. We arrive on Saturday Oct 10 after a short march from Menangle Park. We are aiming to have a full complement of 222 Marchers coming into town on the final day.
Campbelltown City Council is gearing up for a special finale likely to be held in Mawson Park.
Our re-enactment March concludes here in Campbelltown for 3 main reasons:
Principally, to honour the ‘rural’ contingent these men were, so we stop at the outskirts of the city, and secondly, because they themselves recruited no more men as they marched on into the city – they stayed a ‘rural’ force.
Thirdly, pragmatism rules: today’s city traffic is a vastly different ‘kettle of fish’ to that of 100 years ago.
At Campbelltown the Kangaroos gained another five recruits, two of whom joined the march.
On 5 January 1916, after a mid-morning meal at Denham Court, the Kangaroos completed the final stages of the march in heat wave conditions. At Liverpool, a military town, they were met by the Base Battalion Band and by soldiers from the Casula Camp. Late leaving Liverpool, the Kangaroos made a special effort and covered the final stage to Bankstown in excellent time during the heat of the day.
A special reporter for the Daily Telegraph described their approach to Bankstown:
All day long a cloud of red dust has been approaching Bankstown. It was timed to arrive at 5.30 p.m. but it was considerably after 7 p.m. when the pestilent, penetrating stuff settled at the command of Lieutenant Mayes, ‘Halt’ and revealed the ‘Kangaroos’, men who had marched 320 miles, with red rivulets of sweat coursing down their faces, and dungarees striped with the same warlike colour. Red! It is all red. These men see the red of battle before them. They are the steadiest and seemingly the most steadfast of all the country marchers that have come to town.
At Bankstown, they were provided with shower baths which were greatly appreciated and were dined and entertained at a concert. On 6 January they marched to Canterbury Town Hall for lunch. It was so hot that that their pet kangaroo (given to them during the march) died suddenly from heat apoplexy. That night they pitched their final camp at Petersham Public School. At each suburb they had been officially welcomed by local mayors and aldermen.
On Friday 7 January 1916 the Kangaroos approached the city by Parramatta Road, George Street, Park Street, College Street and Macquarie Street. The Wagga Wagga Brass Band (which came to Sydney on the train the previous night) and other bands played them into the city.
They were met at the Domain on their arrival at noon by crowds of cheering people. Cigars, cigarettes, nuts, flags, small paper horseshoes, even lumps of ice were showered on them. The city newspapers emphasized their rural appearance. The Sydney Morning Herald declared that it was obvious that ‘the country had come to town’. It described the Kangaroos as tall ‘sunburnt, hard-looking men’, ‘an even and clean limbed lot’, mostly rural workers or railwaymen, men accustomed to roughing it, full of initiative and resource. It was impressed by the March’s ‘rugged picturesqueness’ particularly the water cart and the old-style wagons covered in flags, one prominently displaying a stuffed kangaroo and a stuffed emu and another with a sign, Don’t look! Hop on while there’s time. The Daily Telegraph described the Kangaroos as ‘a purely country contingent, proving a strong contrast to the men of the city’. Banners and flags were flapping in the breeze, their mascot dogs yelping and their horses shying away from the city’s trams. It stated:
They came quietly, not cheering or exulting, not lording it over all, but as men of firm purpose and steady resolve. Their feet were jubilant, but whose would not be after tramping 334 miles, with the end in sight?
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