Three years ago on September 5, 2015, some 88 ‘recruits’ marched out of Wagga Wagga to re-enact the 1915 ‘Kangaroo March’. Thousands of locals and visitors saw them off and along the route a staggering array of events and activities accompanied and engaged the marchers.
The original 1915 march was an enlistment drive to get men from the bush to join the war effort. The re-enactment march took in many towns in the local district including Jerrawa, Dalton, Yass, Gunning, Breadalbane and Goulburn and covered a total of 520 kilometres from Wagga Wagga to Campbelltown.
Now, a pictorial summary hard cover book of the march re-enactment has been published. This book entitled ‘The 2015 Kangaroo March’ was launched locally in the Breadalbane Hall on Sunday.
It has been compiled by Angela Williamson and contains a CD of songs, poems and readings reflective of the Kangaroo March.
A large crowd packed in the Breadalbane Hall on Sunday for the launch. The village was chosen because it is almost half-way along the route. People travelled from as far as Brisbane, Melbourne, Gunnedah, Sydney, Albury, Camden, Canberra and Wagga Wagga for the launch.
The Kangaroo March committee president Graham Brown recited The Ode followed by one minute’s silence to remember why the group undertook the 36-day pilgrimage.
An entertainment interlude followed, starting with the talented Margaret Davies, who, with Angela Williamson’s vocal support, sang a version of Lest We Forget, with the audience joining in the choruses. This was followed by young Breadalbane students singing a rousing version of The Road to Gundagai. They were presented with a copy of the book to take back to their school as a keepsake.
The re-enactment drummer Ken Halliday was moved to pen a poem during the re-enactment entitled The Lass of Breadalbane, which local Hannah Nielsen shared with those assembled.
Author and soprano Angela Williamson then sang Roses of Picardy, the most popular song of WWI, inviting the audience to join the choruses. Mayor Neil Smith of Junee shared two of his own poems to significant acclaim.
Brigadier Phil Winter, Director General for the Australian Defence Force of the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations around the nation, as well as ADF’s Director General for the imminent Invictus Games, then officially launched the book.
The Brigadier spoke of the breadth of his role, and the re-enactments of the other marches around the state and in Queensland, referring to the fact that the Kangaroo March was the longest at 350 miles (520km).
He congratulated the Kangaroo March re-enactment team, mentioning his own attendance at both Bethungra and Binalong, and the several rotations of Australia’s Federation Guard who he was able to deploy for the 36-day project. He had been pleased to facilitate access to ADF personnel and equipment.
Mrs Williamson said the most difficult task was selecting photos to include from more than 13,000.
She also acknowledged the publishers up in the Blue Mountains who were such a pleasure to work with and lastly expressed her and the committee’s sincere appreciation to the Governor-General for his participation and real pleasure for his having provided the Foreword for the book.
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