Monday (5th) of the long weekend had us being entertained in Bowral by the Uniting Church Bell-ringers, following which we held our Ceremony with students of Bowral School telling stories of WWI soldiers who were former pupils of the school. Then, local ladies’ choir The Glams presented a varied historical programme with the support of the Southern Highlands Concert Band. Amongst the choristers was our own Jan Brown, Enlistment officer and Merchandise purveyor.
Back to Mittagong for the usual start on Tuesday morning – a decidedly warm day along the back roads, and into Colo Vale at lunch time in 32 degrees. The warm physical welcome was matched by the 240 students of the school waving Aussie Flags. We held a ceremony and had a wreath laying by Deputy Mayor Ian Scandrett plus The Ode by John Stead included.
Onward down the railway track to avoid the dangers of Wilson’s Parade. And so to Hill Top, into the camp, and then off to the Memorial Hall for our 2nd ceremony of the day followed by what can only be described as a sumptuous dinner! Words all but fail me. A couple of Irishmen and a ring-in Aussie strummed and sang. Yet another great evening.
Next day and more of that railway track – this time down through the deepest hand dug cutting in the southern hemisphere through Balmoral and Buxton – wonderful fare here too, and on to Thirlmere, the last leg of this in carriages towed behind Steam Engine #2705, to the unique Trainworks Museum, where the happy campers got to shower and sleep on the Southern Aurora. Stories of shower time on this journey stay in the minds of the participants….. Prior to that we held our Commemorative Ceremony with the active participation of the RSL sub branch, students telling WWI soldiers’ tales, 2 MPs and Aunty Janny welcoming us to her traditional land.
Next day on to a circuit of Picton and more of that famous country-style fare to help us on our way, and very little walking as the route is now too congested so we were mostly bussed to Camden Equestrian Centre. Settled in and the Commemorative Ceremony came to us as did the Macarthur RFS catering corps who served up a splendid salad based dinner. Bringelly and Camden School students with their principals and some parents came to tell WWI soldier stories. Some we may claim as Kangaroos as they signed up on the very day in early 1916 that the Kangaroos were in town.
The penultimate day dawned fair and warm. Following breakfast from those Macarthur RFS folk again and a briefing, we set off out on to the main street of Camden in parade mode. Lots of waving, clapping and appreciation. Neil Hughes, spic and shining on Bubba leading the way as usual and Ken Halliday, our drummer, keeping us in step. Out of town and on to the gentle meandering path alongside a stream and southward towards Belgenny Farm.
This property dating back to 1805 had original buildings of the 19th century, and we heard the development of the Merino flock from Spanish royal sources, the beginnings of dairy herds and wine growing. And yet again, we were ‘fed and watered’ in fine style. Oh dear! Just as well we are walking!
Up the road to Camden Park estate to be welcomed by the current owners – direct line descendants of Elizabeth and John McArthur. A brief tour of the beautiful garden, a refreshing chilled water and home-made ANZACs – yum! And off again down their private road to Menangle Park, and the last stretch of perceived dangerous road ‘bussed’ into the Menangle Park Paceway.
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