Executive Committee

Graham Brown, President

Operating family business for more than 45 years. Spent 6 years in Sydney University Regiment (Army Reserve). Became involved with Australian Light Horse in 1980, maintained interest in Military history and is still riding and is currently a Director of Australian Light Horse Association. Regularly assists at vice-regal functions for NSW Governor. Provides formality with his Light Horse Troop at ANZAC day and other ceremonies.         See below what Graham did in the lead up to and on the March.

Rhondda Vanzella, OAM, Vice-president

Managed the family business for 35 years, and 10 years for Dr Brendan Nelson, MP. Rhondda’s whole life has been one of service to community: from Batlow, to Sydney, and now the Southern Highlands, she has masterminded many community events, such as the Sesquicentenary Celebration for Tumut Shire which saw then Prime Minister and 10,000 people attend. Rhondda was Founding Co-ordinator of the National Student Leadership Forum on Faith & Values; Girl Guides and CWA have benefitted from her energy with promotional campaigns and major fund-raising. She was instrumental in initiating a formalised interaction between day girls and boarders, the City Country Family Scheme, now the norm across many Sydney-based schools.       See below what Rhondda did in the lead up to and on the March.

Julie Mather, KMR Public Officer & Legal Officer

Julie has been a practising solicitor for 30 years. She was initially an employed solicitor in Sydney city specialising in litigation. She then had a practice with two partners in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs where she specialised in property and business law. She sold her interest in this practice in the late 1990’s to devote more time to her family. Since moving to the Southern Highlands 7 years ago she has been working as a sole practitioner in her part time legal practice acting for small businesses and individuals.      See below what Julie did in the lead up to, on and after the March.

David Williamson, Risk, Safety & Logistics

Recently retired Managing Director of a multi-national Engineering and Environmental Consultancy. Over a satisfying 40 year span, David has led a variety of engineering businesses in Australia, New Zealand and Asia delivering major bridges, power stations, coal and mineral processing and handling plants, port infrastructure projects, mining maintenance services, logistic support services to the ADF, construction and through life support of metro passenger trains, and consultancy services in environmental science and engineering.       See below what David did in the lead up to, on and after the March.

Nick Illek, Financial Officer

Although a qualified and experienced accountant, Nick owns various businesses and acts as a business consultant and professional company director. He has extensive experience with not-for profit organisations. Nick’s legal training and experience will also be useful in the general conduct of the Association.          See below what Nick did in the lead up to, on and after the March.

OJ Rushton, Music & Education

An accomplished pianist, composer/arranger, conductor and choral director with over 28 years’ music teaching experience. She has her own private music studio, taught group and individual singing, conducting, and improvisation along with the AMEB syllabus to most levels in piano, theory, piano accordion and recorder. She has founded and co-directed a number of combined choirs, orchestras and ensembles in Australia and overseas; written and directed choral and orchestral pieces, oratorios, musicals and theatrical productions; written and taught music curriculums; one of which (co-written) was successful in passing registration with the NSW Board of Studies. OJ believes rural children should have the same opportunities as city kids and that music should be an interactive, fun experience at every level.       See below her activities pertaining to the March.

Angela Williamson, Creative Writer & Singer

Angela’s background is in IT, as an Analyst /Programmer and Systems Co-ordinator for national organisations. Since those days, most activity has been in a voluntary capacity: Founding Board of, and hands-on fund-raiser for, the Australian International School in Jakarta; Council member and local Branch President of the National Trust Queensland; 20 years active Membership of women’s service organisation Zonta International in 3 clubs according to residence, including District(Qld,NSW,ACT) Conference Organiser; Singer, professional and amateur, both solo and in choirs in 5 countries , and passionate advocate for use of quality English language. Pedantry a specialty!                 See below what Angela did in the lead up to, on and after the March.

Jan Brown, Membership Secretary & “Enlistment” Officer

Jan was born in the UK and came to Australia as a 10 year old. She trained in Nursing at Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, married during that time, following which she left to start a family. She now has two children (married) and five grandchildren. Jan and her husband live in the NSW Southern Highlands, breeding Australian Stock Horses. Her main interests now are singing and music.        See below what Jan did in the lead up to and on the March.

Cttee-BN-PC-at-launch

Pictured above at the Kangaroo March re-enactment Launch in Wagga Wagga December 2013 from left:
Rhondda Vanzella,OAM; Graham Brown; Angela Williamson; General Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK MC ; David Williamson; Dr Brendan Nelson, our Patron; OJ Rushton

 

What President Graham did:

Our President, Graham Brown, put in a huge effort:  physical requirements, designing the horse testing regime to satisfy the Police and RMS; handled the horses’ participation; drove the route many times to assess suitable pathways – sometimes with Jan sometimes with David.  He bought and brought gear, developed and maintained our ~800(eventually) entry database of people interested in the March or wanting to participate.

Graham sourced and had provided from King Gee (our first sponsor!) all the overalls that the ‘enlistees’ wore and actively campaigned for support from other sponsors. Toilets & showers donated by Kennards, water heaters from Birco, trailers from Dean Trailers, communications equipment from iCom Radios, and so on.

Arranged storage for all the kit that he and David drove to the Army base near Liverpool to bring back, then helped to repack it and delivered back to the Army base after the March.  Camp beds, army tents, folding chairs, folding trestle tables, and much more besides.  Fortunately, on his farm, Graham has a 40-foot container – so all was stored in there beforehand, then re-packed into the trucks of the AMVCS and taken off to the March start camp at Brucedale north of Wagga on 5th September. At the end, from the last campsite at Menangle Park on the 10th October, the AMVCS trucks delivered everything back to the container to be stored and then reloaded on to Bruce Peelgrane’s truck by Graham and Bruce before return to Liverpool Army Storage.

Graham was very much to the fore with merchandise research and recommendations – liaising with sources and once decisions were made handing over to Treasurer Nick to effect the transactions.

Spoke on local radio stations both before and during the March when they approached him. Appeared on Sunrise TV to promote the March, visited both State & Federal MPs along the way, as well as visiting every Local Council to co-ordinate support and permissions.

He gave a speech at each Commemorative Ceremony held on the March – either from the perspective of history, but more often than not acting out the role of a Sergeant Major cajoling potential recruits to join up.  All this he handled with great good humour and panache.  Particularly effective as Graham is an active participant in the Australian Light Horse Association so he was spic and span in his uniform very much looking the part to ‘berate’ hesitant ‘enlistees’ to join up.

For some of the March Graham rode his beautiful ebony horse, Destiny, but the demands of moving the March forward each day saw him take Destiny back home and Graham helping David, the RFS and the AMVCS with the logistics.   Nevertheless, the March was well supported by the Light Horse Association with Neil Hughes riding all the way and various members joining for part of the distance.  In Wallendbeen we had more than 30 Light Horsemen in attendance to escort the Governor General who inspected the recruits.

 

What Vice-President Rhondda did:

Rhondda was instrumental in organising the Launch of the Kangaroo Re-enactment March project locating it in Wagga the seat of the original march: a massive undertaking.  An ideas woman with many attributes, the March re-enactment was, in large measure, a result of her dogged commitment and enthusiasm.

The Vice-President was strategic in seeking out descendants, putting them first in everything. She organised the commemorative dinner at the Australian War Memorial, which was profitable.  The Vice President liaised with parliamentary associates for assistance, co-ordinated with the RSL in case they could assist – which they did with the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir which performed a total of 8 times along the length of the March.

Rhondda’s parliamentary connections led to our becoming aware of the possibility of acquiring Commemorative Status for the re-enactment – meaning, that if we got this status, we would be spared the costs of the overhead from the State Government authorities with whom we dealt – mainly NSW Police, RMS and Ambulance.

Vice-President Rhondda sourced contributions to the historical aspects of the March – poems from a veteran, and fed a lot of material to Writer-Singer Angela. Rhondda, for example, acquired an original Kangaroo badge – issued to each man who signed up in 1915. Copies of this became our included memento for those who enlisted.

Vice President Rhondda ‘found’ the fabulous quilter Helen Draper who made us a replica of the Kangaroos’ Banner.

Rhondda set up and attended many meetings along the route with people interested in helping organise their local involvement on several occasions, often with President Graham and Risk, Safety, Logistics David. She targeted publicity in the early days of our preparation.

She co-ordinated the meals along the route sourcing from local IGAs: buns, loaves of bread, butter, vegemite, sausages, bacon, eggs, etc., though the local communities were extremely generous and hospitable with their home-made or home-baked offerings, dozens of eggs, etc.

Rhondda organised a reunion dinner in Wagga Wagga in December 2015 attended by many of the March participants from the greater Wagga area. This was timed to coincide with the display at the Wagga Wagga Museum of the original Wagga – Yass “Kangaroo” Route March.

 

What Legal Officer Julie did:

Julie had such a pivotal role. She drafted our Constitution and registered our Association; registered the KMCRAI as a Charity; applied for Federal Grants from the department of Veterans’ Affairs something that took several hours to do.

Then an even longer process – weeks at the drawing board on the phone, attending meetings, Julie obtained our insurances – liability, volunteers, hired goods, association.   This sentence belies the complexity of the effort – a goodly few months interacting with David and then with Insurance Brokers. A lot of tic-tac and research.

Next she set about drafting and/or revising legal documents including Waivers, Codes of Conduct and Agreements with suppliers. Our Vice-President was very smart finding Julie – her skills were essential to the legal and insurance refinements.

With our Treasurer Nick’s eagle-eyed help and savvy input from Vice President Rhondda, Julie drafted the Marchers enlistment/registration form. This was quite a process and suddenly became urgent as people were wanting to ‘register’ or ‘enlist’ and we weren’t quite ready.

Julie also worked with our Treasurer on Grant acquittals; she filed ACNC Charity Annual information statements; prepared and filed the necessary documents to eventually close our

Association. Our Legal Officer was Acting Minute Secretary on occasion.

Julie was active in merchandising and handling enlistments on the March itself, participating for as many days of the 36 + the days beforehand in Wagga that work commitments would allow, say ~4 days (out of 7) each week.

During the March she was also noted for her diplomacy skills which contributed to the smooth running of the march.  Julie joined in leading the Anthem at the end of our daily Commemorative Ceremony.

 

What Logistics, Risk & Safety Officer David did:

Initially he offered to do Risk & Safety, something he was well versed in and keen on. But he discovered that many other aspects of the March had yet to be quantified and properly identified.  So he set about doing a Project Management exercise.

A budget: if everything needing to be done was paid for rather than having help ‘in kind’ then it would cost ~$1.5m. Fortunately, our Legal Officer Julie was already applying for grants with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

David commenced liaison with Major Events Police (Inspector Paul Carrett) and the RMS (Steve Elliott) and we held several meetings with them. David’s appreciation and understanding of risk and safety issues meant these gentlemen had solid comfort with our ability to conduct the March in safety and on roads and routes that would give them the greatest certainty of our commitment to the public and the participants’ safety. His goals: zero accidents, zero injuries, zero environmental incidents.  Achieved.

David and our Legal Officer Julie worked assiduously on developing our Insurances.  5 Policies were required at, in the end, reasonably modest cost, but it was probably the biggest early stumbling block: everyone running for cover – figuratively, for many months.

David’s next self-appointed task was to source 24-hour Medical Care for the duration of the 36 days of the March.  This was a drawn-out process over several months. Not a great deal of enthusiasm was evinced by the big players, thus big quotes, but eventually he nailed down a great arrangement with an excellent local service provider – State Medical Assistance – slightly reduced cost befitting our charitable status, but still a major component of our budget.

David started, with our Legal Officer, the process of applying for Commemorative Status for the March – that way we would get the hours of input from RMS, NSW Ambulance and the NSW Police for no cost.  Otherwise we would be looking at a figure of ~$300,000 of their direct costs to contribute their time and expertise to the March.

Having had a bit to do with the Australian Defence Force in his working life, David began knocking on doors at the ADF – not getting much response until finally Brigadier Phil Winter emerged to David’s view in February 2014.  Then some slow steady traction was gained, presentations made to the newly morphed Centenary of ANZAC at Federal level.  Prior to this, David had been the principal pitcher, along with President Graham and Vice-President Rhondda and Writer-Singer Angela to General (now Sir) Peter Cosgrove when he was Chair of the NSW Centenary of ANZAC Committee in August of 2013. The ADF were swamped with Centenary of ANZAC tasks across the country but ultimately made a magnificent contribution in tents, camp stretchers, chairs and tables and in addition made a contingent of Australia’s Federation Guard available to march/camp with us on 6 occasions and a welcome contribution to a few of our Commemorative Ceremonies with a catafalque mount and dismount.

Next, David started working on how to further reduce the costs of the March. He developed strategies with the Rural Fire Service seeking their input to manage our movement from camp site to camp site.  Whilst understanding that fighting fires or attending accidents was their primary responsibility, an arrangement was made that each RFS crew along the route would co-ordinate sign placements and retrievals, be the front and back vehicles of the March cohort, and help with the erection and deconstruction of tents at each camp. Through David’s engagement, the RFS local brigades were the recipients of a worthwhile donation on a daily basis, though some of the local crews en route declined to accept.

The Australian ex-Military Vehicles Collectors Society popped up on the radar, and David quickly negotiated their participation the full length of the March, to transport the camp infrastructure from site to site using their wonderful WWII vehicles.  Worked a charm.  David arranged a donation to the AMVCS in similar fashion to RFS. What a great bunch of chaps and chapesses, and what a fantastic job they did with cheer and bonhomie!

David set up all documents for the day-to-day management of the March using Google Docs. The Daily Briefing sheets were stored there, and he printed them off a week in advance on the ‘down’ Sundays for each of the participants. Writer-Singer Angela contributed to the ‘current’  stories of the War in that hand-out.

On the March itself: David gave the Daily Briefings to the RFS crews, the AMVCS crews and the March participants from 7am through to 8:30am in 3 sessions.  Angela prevailed upon him to be MC for each of the Daily Commemorative Ceremonies that she prepared.  She drafted his speech, but he would tailor make it to suit the audience being addressed – such as the Premier and other politicians in Bundanoon.  He oversaw the march out from each camp site then helped with the take down and pack up of the camp, filled the ute he was using with kit and set off for the next camp site, checking in with the marchers on the way. He provided the route map to Everyman’s to suggest best places to offer their oh-so-welcome refreshments 2 or 3 times a day.

 

What Writer-Singer Angela did:

Wrote almost the entirety of our website, co-ordinated all the Kangaroos’ Stories, and edited them & wrote or partially wrote them. She was helped by 5 other scribes, Karen Murray, Dahlis Evans, Lorraine Brown, Kay Turner and Graham Elphick who were eager to contribute.  Sherry Morris co-author of The Kangaroo March was kind enough to make her resource freely available for our project. Consulted Historical Societies and historians along the route for additional material: Kay Hayes, Graham Elphick and Lorraine Brown particularly helpful.

Wrote the WWI items for the Daily Briefings so participants knew what was happening 100 years ago on that equivalent day.

Wrote all the 12 Bulletins sent to our ~800 member database for 2 years prior to the March, plus the final Bulletin November 2015.

Wrote a tranche of thank you letters to all the local organising committees after the March concluded. Wrote thank you letters to all of our sponsors.

Contributed content to the Education Kit for the schools along the route.

Participated in several of the many preparatory meetings in locations along the route: Junee, Cootamundra, Yass, Goulburn, Breadalbane, Colo Vale, Camden and Campbelltown

Liaised with Robyn Taylor of Wagga Wagga who wanted to give us her tribute a superb quilt picture of Jack Ryan, Kangaroo and VC awardee. Robyn had it framed and a plaque made for the frame, and presented it to us to carry along the March. Angela displayed it at every Ceremony to significant acclaim.

A heap of correspondence plus agendas and minutes of most of the Executive Meetings.  Angela approached the ABC for permission, which was granted, to use their brilliant synopsis of World War I to include the pertinent sections on our website and to use as part of the hand-out to Marchers.

Was involved in Merchandise only insofar as she was keen that we had replicas made of the original badges which were issued to the Kangaroos as they enlisted.  Vice-president Rhondda sourced one from an obscure place in Adelaide. Very special.  We had enough badges made to be numbered for those who paid to participate, and unnumbered ones for people who just wanted to purchase a small memento of our Re-enactment.

Liaised with the National Library of Australia for the archiving of this website.

Writer-Singer Angela devised all the 34 Commemorative Ceremonies along the March, liaised with most of the local schools to get students to tell stories of the Kangaroos in their area at the ceremony. Researched suitable music for the 35-minute (not ANZAC Day) ceremony. Sought music from two on-the-route composers (Ann Carr-Boyd and May Howlett) for the end of ceremony music.  Acquired Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s written permission to play their 1989 recording of Peter Sculthorpe’s Small Town as the commencement music for each ceremony.

Angela sang at each ceremony a beautiful moving song written in 1915 by two Australian men called She Who Gives Her Son as a tribute to the mothers of soldiers.  Sang to almost 4000 people including the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove in Wallendbeen, to ~500 in Bundanoon including the Premier Mike Baird and his party, several hundred including the NSW Governor David Hurley and Mrs Hurley in Goulburn.

Ensured the MC (David) had his speech written and ready; wrote the speech given by Graham – a Call to Arms; brought back-up speeches for all in case they didn’t bring them. (Needed twice!) Organised daily the portable flag (made for us very kindly by Moss Vale Men’s Shed) and sound system set up.  As a consequence, Angela missed most of the March as she was finalising details with teachers, students and other participants and getting the Programme printed in time for each of the 34 Commemorative Ceremonies.  Angela sang the Anthem each ceremony & also the NZ Anthem at Campbelltown Valedictory Ceremony.

 

What Treasurer Nick did:

The always obliging Nick played host for many of our Executive Meetings regularly and generously.  He attended to the minutiae of our accounts and was extremely focused on us selling as much merchandise as possible to keep us from going ‘into the red’.

His self-appointed tasks included: attending Committee Meetings and other meetings and was Acting Minute Secretary from time to time, attending March ceremonies and where required assisting with set-up and pull-down, applying for GST and income tax exemptions, completing and lodging BAS returns, reviewing Budgets, paying bills, banking monies received.

Nick was responsible for maintaining books of account:  entering transactions, reconciling accounts, presenting Reports to the Committee, adjusting accounts for reporting purposes, providing final accounts for Grant Acquittals and AGM, maintaining, comparing and reporting on Marchers’ memberships and march fees, assisting with Grant Acquittals.

He was a great help with form designs – the pedant, you know!

Treasurer Nick set up booking systems and handled payments for War Memorial Dinner on 19th September and the Wagga Wagga Reunion Dinner organised by Vice-President Rhondda.

Nick was invaluable in providing proofing of website and various publications: Writer-Singer Angela thought she was good – couldn’t hold the proverbial candle to Nick’s pedantry.

And where Nick really came into his own, with a lot of support from President Graham, Enlistment Officer Jan and Legal Officer Julie, was in:

  • consulting and investigating various merchandise options,
  • designing, negotiating and ordering our merchandise,
  • meetings re merchandise, liaising with merchandise suppliers and Committee,
  • making our merchandise sales board,
  • maintaining/reviewing and reconciling merchandise sales sheets,
  • assisting with merchandise displays,
  • producing and erecting merchandise signage,
  • manning merchandise stalls,
  • collecting merchandise from suppliers,
  • ensuring merchandise available for sale from stocks,
  • collecting, counting and banking merchandise sales monies –

You will have gathered: Nick was the man with merchandise!

He attended and followed the March for as much as his business schedule allowed and assisted by shopping for supplies for Marchers, with breakfast set up and clear away, soothed frayed nerves and settled disputes.

At the time of writing, Treasurer Nick and Legal Officer Julie are finishing up the wind-up of our Kangaroo March ‘business’.

 

What “Enlistment” Officer Jan did:

Our “Enlistment” Officer, Jan, managed the Enlistment process both in preparation and in execution on a daily basis on the March. Jan sourced the wrist bands which participants had to wear.  The enlistment process, on a daily basis, was a painstaking task which she handled with pleasantness and warmth of spirit.  Its importance was underscored by the need for us to know who was marching, always in case of an accident which fortunately we did not suffer.

Jan was a regular driver of a support vehicle, frequently doing three or more trips daily to shift caravans, toilets, showers, etc.

She heartily promoted and managed all the sales of our merchandise. Probably raised the most money with our merchandise – very assiduous and fully focussed on the task.

Jan sang the Anthem at each Commemorative Ceremony she attended. Jan also read a beautiful poem at all the Ceremonies either Known Unto God or Why are the poppies red, Mother?  Often her grand-daughter Bella Sonter participated with the 2nd poem.  Both poems helped create the reflective mood we wished to establish for our recognition of the Kangaroos and their families.

Jan provided regular support to participants needing assistance with clothing repairs, various meals, and emotional support – we had a ‘group hug’ generated by Jan after the Valedictory Ceremony in Campbelltown.  And all this while suffering indifferent health issues with asthma and severe back problems.

 

As can be seen from the above we all had to be very versatile.  Fortunately, we had a lot of support and real help along the way from local groups, organisations specially set up for the March Re-enactment, from officialdom, from the RFS, from history groups, from theatrical performers, from musical groups, ……

 

What the Education & Music Director did:

The Education and Music Director organised teachers to create the Education Kit which she then distributed to schools along the route of the re-enactment march, conducting a competition amongst students for the best story.  She sought out and recruited Margaret Davies, High School Music teacher, to form and direct the Wagga ‘mob’ Youth Choir to perform in the Wagga Wagga / Junee region. Subsequently she found Angela Nance to found the Goulburn ‘mob’ Youth Choir for that region.

Arranged for 8 performances of the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir along the March mostly when our patron Dr Brendan Nelson, was in attendance, or in front of the NSW Premier. She also took the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir to the AWM to perform for the commemorative dinner on 19th September 2015 and, with our Vice-President Rhondda and Wagga ‘mob’ Music Director Margaret Davies, to Government House in NSW for a day on 24th September 2015 during the March.

Contacted local radio stations along the route and Radio National, especially ‘Macca’ on Australia All Over as the March progressed to promote the event.

 

 

 

Enlist now to march in the Kangaroo March Re-enactment.