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Published October 28th 2018
Free multi-million dollar tribute will reduce you to tears
For a small place, the heritage City of Maryborough in Queensland's Fraser Coast Region has had any number of firsts. The township even produced the publication First and Oldest: Achievements 1847-1997.
Glancing through this, I noticed Maryborough claims Australia's first Ironman champion, Hayden Kenny OAM, and the first female to represent Queensland in the Federal parliament, Annabelle Jane Rankin.
But if there is one shining light this township is particularly proud of, it is Maryborough-born, Duncan Chapman, the first allied soldier to step onto the perilous shores at Gallipoli.
As Chapman wrote in a letter to his brother Charles: "To me was given the extreme honour of being actually the first man to put foot ashore on this peninsula. ... What a living hell it was too, and how I managed to go through it from 4 o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the 25th April, to Wednesday, the 28th, under fire the whole time, without being hit is a mystery to me.'
Amazingly he survived and was promoted to the rank of Major, only to be killed in action in August 1916 in the bloodbath of Pozières, whose soil, according to the famous war historian Charles Bean "is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on Earth". Such are the wages of war.
That the first Anzac was a native-born son is one of the reasons the township has invested so heavily both emotionally and financially in a $5 million tribute to the original Anzacs-Walk with the Anzacs. It is a memorial of such national significance Malcolm Turnbull opened it in a ceremony on July 21, 2018, alongside Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and representatives from British, New Zealand, Belgian and Turkish governments.
As 2018 marks the Centenary of the First World War Armistice, there was significant financial backing from State and Federal governments but the impetus and significant funding came from the local community who also invested more than 10,000 volunteer hours of tireless work over a four year period.
They should feel justifiably proud of the accolades this Anzac Memorial is receiving. It is even being described as the most significant memorial outside of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Fraser Coast Tourism & Events chairman and vice-president of the Queens Park Military Trail Project Committee, Greig Bolderrow guided me through this walk.
Even though Greig was highly involved in the creation of this memorial and is regularly in the public eye, I rather think he prefers to remove himself from the limelight when it comes to this memorial. Instead, he wants this memorial to reflect the glory and the suffering of the Anzacs.
So while he was very much present when I undertook this walk, you will notice there are no photos of Greig in this piece beyond his hand holding the sculptured hand of a 'soldier of Pozieres' This is quite touching as this statue represents not only a survivor of the war but a witness to so much loss and devastation.
I have to admit growing up in a generation that was vehemently anti-war, so I did not expect to be so moved by this experience but as we walked through this extraordinary tribute, I was almost reduced to tears.
Nor was I alone in these feelings. Along the way, we met other people who were obviously lost in thought about what they were experiencing and yes, I did see a few tears.
The walk with the Anzacs takes 40 minutes or so. The distance is short, but time is needed for reflection as unlike other memorials this is an immersive experience.
Your journey with the Anzacs from Gallipoli through to Armistice. There is the sound of marching feet leading the way and soldier's voices follow visitors down the path. Story panels have QR barcodes, so visitors can download an audio version of the stories. Motion sensors trigger speakers and multi-media boxes so you continue to be immersed in the world of war.
You will find this memorial on the edge of Queens Park in central Maryborough. This park also offers views of the Mary River that are beautiful to behold.
Photo @nadinecresswellmyatt Maryborough Queensland Mary River
You start at the life-sized bronze sculpture of Duncan Chapman. Behind him are footprints set in the concrete that reflect those who followed him across the beach at Anzac Cove. In a touching gesture, Turkish Consulate General in Brisbane, Turgut Allahmanli, arranged for stones and sand to be sent from Gallipoli and these are embedded in these footprints.
The statue of Major Duncan Chapman has stood there since 2015 but is only in this centennial year of the ending of World War 1 that the background of Gallipoli has been recreated around him.
Now Chapman gazes up to the cliffs of Gallipoli represented by massive weathered and soaring columns. Near him are representations of the first three boats to land at Anzac Cove carrying the 9th Battalion. The memorial walk then leaves Gallipoli for the gruelling journey along the Western Front.
Personal perspectives are drawn from letters written home by Maryborough district men on the front line. Nor are the stories just about soldiers but also features nurses and journalists.
The typewriter of Australian World War I correspondent Charles Bean @nadinecresswellmyatt
One significant sculpture is of C.W Bean's typewriter. Bean is significant as the editor of the 12-volume Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. that popularised the ANZAC legend and his vision was instrumental in the establishment of the important Australian War Memorial. He was Australia's official war correspondent and carried this hardly portable typewriter into war zones.
Mary Pozieres, a sculpture representing mothers, sisters and wives waiting for news from a distant shore. (Photo Credit ABC Wide Bay: Jess Lodge)
One of the most moving sculptures faces away from the memorial gazing out into the park. Greig explained that she was in many ways ageless and could represent a mother, daughter, sister, wife or sweetheart. With her hunched shoulders and quiet reverie, one can only wonder what shocking news she has received from the front.
But like all the sculptures in this experiential walk, you can touch her and even sit down beside her to see the world through her eyes and in doing so provide some solace.
A sculpture of a 'soldier of Pozieres' stands near the end of the Maryborough military trail. The massive artillery bombardment from the Germans at Pozières inflicted a huge number of casualties among the Australians. The town was totally decimated and of the 23,000 Australian casualties, 6,800 men were killed or died of wounds.
One of these men was Major Duncan Chapman, who was killed in action on 6 August 1916 at Pozieres when a shell burst in his trench. He was 28 years old. His remains are interred far from home in the Pozieres British Cemetery Somme, France and yet while so distant he is remembered by his hometown in this astonishing and moving tribute that we can now all experience.
This museum would also be an excellent place to visit for anyone undertaking military-related family history research as according to the librarian I spoke to, the museum has a complete set of regiment histories alongside an extensive collection of books on military history. For more information, click here.
This museum seems to have something for everyone as while I was not overly drawn to view war memorabilia, I did spot some amazing examples of war-related social history as photographed below.
-During the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition, the U.S. military developed a set of playing cards to help troops identify the most-wanted members of President Saddam Hussein's government. Photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
Walk with the Anzacs and the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum are just two points on a much wider regional military trail.
There are with some 20 points of interest including the much-photographed wreck of the hospital ship the Maheno and remnants of the Z Special Unit training camp on Fraser Island, a rare memorial bridge at Z Special Unit training camp and a dramatic life-size statue of an Australian light horseman in Harvey Bay. For more details on this trail, click here.
Fortunately for parents visiting with young children, there are a variety of attractions all close by. If you are in Maryborough on Thursdays or Sundays, there are train rides on the Mary Ann, a replica of the first steam engine built in Queensland in 1873. This wends through parklands and alongside the stunning Mary River. Rides are only $2-$3 for kids or $7 to $12 for the entire family.
Thursdays also offer an excellent community market that is right in the middle of the main street. Operating between 8 am to 1.30 pm, it features weekly entertainment and a great variety of stalls.
Lots of fresh produce and crafts photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
A number of the locals get dressed up in period dress and you can witness the firing of the cannon a tradition harking back to the time when the sound was used to alert cane field workers to come in for lunch.
Mary Anne Train Maryborough- photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
The township also makes much of its links with the writer P.L Travers who wrote the well-known Mary Poppins books. You can have your photo taken with a statue of Mary Poppins and when you cross at the pedestrian lights look out for images of Mary's opening or closed umbrella on the flashing lights. For more about the township's links with this much-loved character, click here.
There are tours with Mary (who is shown above) with afternoon tea at the Spoonful of Sugar Cafe. I will be writing that tour up in a separate article that I will link to below.
In terms of accommodation, I stayed at the Blue Shades Motel that has some excellent family rooms sited around their swimming pool. Almost like having your own private pool. For my review of this excellent motel, click here.