5:45am The Dawn Service
Early morning. Today, 25 April, is Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and for “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.” Anzac Day was originally to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought for Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. This year is the centenary (100 years) anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli.
Winton Council invited special guests for the service: AVM W.M. Collins AO, Wing commander Bruce Graham, and delegates from Winton, New Zealand.
100 years ago today, more than 35,000 Australians and New Zealanders either died or were wounded. For what? What a waste of young lives.
The service was solemn. I couldn’t help but think of my brother, who’s a major in the Korean Army Corp.
Everyone joined the special Anzac breakfast in the Shire Hall. Anzac Day breakfast is also known as “gunfire breakfast”, which consists of coffee with rum (or milk with rum). It recalls the breakfast taken by many soldiers before facing battle. I, also, participated in the tradition by pouring (too much) rum into my morning milk.
Winton is proud of their military history. John Archer of Winton was the first Queenslander to enlist in World War II. We started the parade from Shire Hall to Winton Cemetery. One of our Trailblazers, Wog, marched with his brother’s photo, a fallen soldier, Ric Milosevic.
Other than the Anzac activities, we had a full day of exploring the fine town of Winton, followed by an Anzac and Trailblazer wrap-up dinner.
Do you know what a musical fence is? Neither did I. The Musical Fence, designed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leak, is a wire fence that can be played as a musical instrument and it is the first permanent musical fence installation in the world. It’s basically a set of wires that make sounds through vibration. We performed Waltzing Matilda quite successfully.
As I said before, if you feel a little hop in your heart when you hear the world ‘dinosaurs’, you have to come visit Winton.
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs is a non-profit organization and museum founded by David and Judy Elliott who accidentally discovered one of the largest dinosaurs in Australia. Believe it or not, they are not the only ones who ‘accidentally’ found dinosaur bones. The dinosaur they found was nicknamed “Elliott”. Now the museum has Australia’s most complete sauropod skeleton, Matilda, and Australia’s most complete theropod skeleton, Banjo. If you own a property in the Outback, take a closer look at your rocks. It might be the next discovery of a new species!
Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”
Australia’s most famous bush ballad, Waltzing Matilda, was first performed on April 6, 1895, at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton. Banjo Paterson wrote the lyrics. After the centenary celebrations for the song in 1998, the only museum in the world dedicated to a song, the Waltzing Matilda Centre, opened in Winton. Using today’s technology and interactive display, the history and spirit of the song is delivered.
The highlight of the museum was Ron’s Snake Show. Oh boy, oh boy. He brought three different kinds of (non-poisonous) snakes to show us how to handle them. He said the best thing to do when you see snakes is to let them go. They are usually not after a human. He let us touch the snakes at the end of the show. I touched one of the snakes, for the first time in my life. It actually crawled on my palm. It’s amazing to see how they move their muscles underneath their scales.
We continued to our final dinner at the Shire Hall. I still couldn’t believe that the 8 days of the journey were over. The table setting with Australian and New Zealand flags and poppy flowers was simple, yet elegant. Stephen and I squeezed into the Victorious Secret girls’ table. We had yet another meat-full dinner. Betty, the head of the Victorious Secret team, told us that we were always welcome at her stations. Now we have more reasons and places to come back to, and for, in Outback Queenland.
In the final hour of the Outback Trailblazer 2015, we sang along to one last rendition of Waltzing Matilda and waved our Australian and New Zealand flags. To an even more successful Trailblazer in 2016!
Total distance: 1809km (but probably a lot more if we count the small trips)
Final destination: Winton
Outback Trailblazer [Day 4] Diamantina Shire Continues and There are Camels
Outback Trailblazer [Day 3] South Australia and Priscilla
Outback Trailblazer [Day 2] There was Big Red
Outback Trailblazer [Day 1] Furthest Town from Sea, Dinosaurs, and Giggles