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Gifts in a Billy

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by Olga Junek (subscribe)
I am an academic and writer living in Melbourne. I love to travel and I also love writing about all the things Melbourne, regional Victoria and other parts of Australia have to offer.
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Gifts in a billy? Just imagine
Shrine of Remembrance autumn program Gifts in a billy
The Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne

With Anzac Day less than a month away, what better time to visit the Shrine of Remembrance during the school holidays?

Gifts in a Billy, a family autumn event (3rd -7th April 2017), will make the visit even more interesting and poignant as children can take part in thinking what gifts they would send to a soldier.

Your children may not know that the billy can(or plain billy) has been considered a quintessential item of the Australian bush. Most of us know it as a metal cooking pot with a lid and wire handle used on the campfire, especially for making tea.

However, during World War 1 the billy took on special significance as these were used to send small gifts, missed food items and other 'comforts' to the soldiers fighting in the war. Imagine the excitement soldiers must have felt opening a billy filled with some of their favourite treats?

Gifts in a billy Shrine of Remembrance World War 1
The humble billy can

If you packed a hamper to send around the world to a soldier, what would you put inside? Here is a chance for your children to experiment with billies and a selection of items just like the ones sent to Anzacs in 1915, and make a letter or drawing about themselves and their family and friends to include in the package.

In December 1915: Sad and weary after their long struggle on the Gallipoli peninsula, the Anzacs were cheered up by the arrival of billies full of useful and comforting Christmas gifts, packed and sent by Australians. One observer wrote: 'The men were sitting around all over the place on the ground going through their billies, telling each other what they'd got. Some of them were trying to re-pack their booty but found they couldn't get all the contents back in the billies again.'

Imagine how happy soldiers would have felt at Christmas time to receive their special billies. To find out more have a look at the Australian War Memorial website.

Gifts in a billy Shrine of Remembrance World War 1
Cartoon on a WW1 billy

This program is designed for children between the ages of 4-10 and they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The program is free but gold coin donations are very welcome. You can book online here. The sessions start at 10.30 am and run for one hour.
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Why? To imagine sending a gift in a billy to a WW1 soldier figthing on the front
When: 10.30-11.30
Phone: 03 9661 8100
Where: Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne
Cost: Free but a gold coin donation is welcome
Your Comment
What a fantastic idea. It gives the children an insight into the sadness of war but in a very positive way.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6964) 899 days ago
Something special! Memories of camping, billy tea with the odd eucalyptus leaf thrown in. Do children have opportunity to buy/ keep their Billy? This activity would such an interesting one to do, and a great opportunity for learning something valuable.
by e_law (score: 2|425) 900 days ago
Thanks for your comment. Not sure about the keeping of the billy - might be best to give them a call. A great suggestion if this is not the case.
by Olga Junek (score: 2|378) 900 days ago
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