ANZAC Day Memories in Outback Queensland

Colin Toll is a member of our Facebook Group “I Love Camping Australia Wide. He was a regular soldier, an officer, graduated from what is now ADFA and Duntroon, fought in two wars, resigned as a young Lieutenant Colonel while commanding all the Leopard tanks in the Army.  As a 25 year old he raised a tank squadron of 120 men here in Australia and took to Vietnam in 1969.  A bit over a third were casualties.  He says: “I am in awe of what soldiers do.  So, ANZAC Days are special to me. Not the big city ones but the small country ones.” 

He shared this story about ANZAC Day,  2015.  The poem at the end of the story was given to him on that day, and still brings tears to his eyes.

In 2015, on the Sunday before ANZAC Day we were listening to Macca, the compare of Australia All Over on ABC radio. Macca interviewed the Mayor of Boulia Shire, who together with the Mayor of Diamantina Shire were the organizers of an ANZAC Day ceremony to be held on top of a hill in far western Queensland, halfway between Boulia and Bedourie. We were taken by the intention of having 100 mounted horsemen at the service. On the day 104 horsemen were on parade.

These two small but enterprising Shires joined together to gain an ANZAC Centenary grant to fund the commemoration. The site chosen for the commemoration was on top of a hill, called the Vaughn Johnson Lookout, situated on the Shire boundary about 100 km south of Boulia and 100 km north of Bedourie. “Join us for a once in a hundred-year event…” he said. How true, and it is precisely the reason we decided to attend. It was 1,500 km from home in Cairns so we hitched the caravan and departed on the following Wednesday.

AN ANZAC DAY POEM

IT’S JUST A SIMPLE SERVICE IN A LITTLE PLACE I KNOW,

WHEN THE EVENING STARS ARE FADING AND THE SLEEPY EARTH WAKES SLOW,

WITH THE REFRESHING SMELL OF MORNING IN A LITTLE TOWN AT DAWN,

WITH SLEEPY EYES AND STIFFENED LIMBS WE STIFLE BACK A YAWN.

THERE ISN’T ANY GRAND PARADE OF MARCHING OR A BAND,

BUT A LITTLE GROUP OF BLOKES WHO WATCH, AND THINK, AND STAND.

THERE ISN’T ANY BUGLER TO PLAY A SAD “LAST POST”,

BUT FROM THE MIDST OF MEMORIES, THE PAST LIVES LIKE A GHOST.

AND ALL THE INTERVENING YEARS THE BUSY MIND WILL BRIDGE,

TO DESERTS HARSH, THE BEACHES COLD AND A RUGGED JUNGLE RIDGE,

TO LAUGHTER,  FEAR,  A THOUSAND THINGS,  THE FACES AND THE JOKES,

AND HOW IT ALL COMES BACK AGAIN,  JUST STANDING WITH THE BLOKES.

IT’S JUST A SIMPLE SERVICE WHILE THE DAWN IS BREAKING RED,

AND IT’S NOT THE WORDS A FELLOW HEARS, BUT THOSE THAT STAY UNSAID.

IT’S NOT THE GLOW OF GLORY THAT THE FLEETING MOMENTS LEND,

IT’S THE MEMORIES IN THE MORNING – MEMORIES OF YOUR FRIENDS

Anzac Day 2015 - Camp Site - Vaughan Johnson Lookout
Camp Site
Anzac Day 2015 - Dawn - Vaughan Johnson Lookout
Dawn - Vaughan Johnson Lookout
Anzac Day 2015 - Horsemen
Horsemen
Anzac Day 2015 - Horsemen
Horsemen
Anzac Day 2015 flyer - Vaughan Johnson Lookout
Anzac Day 2015 flyer - Vaughan Johnson Lookout

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