Centenary of 'The March of the Dungarees'
This year, people across Ipswich and Somerset have remembered and reflected on events 100 years ago: the first Anzac Day and the tumultuous years of the First World War.
This Sunday, on 29 November, the communities of Blair commemorate another significant local anniversary: the centenary of the March of the Dungarees.
On Sunday I will join the Rosewood community to unveil a plaque at the Rosewood cenotaph to acknowledge the Dungarees march. We congratulate the Military Brotherhood military motorcycle club for their work in organising the plaque. This weekend the club will commemorate the centenary of the Dungarees march with a charity motorcycle ride tracing the original route from Warwick to Brisbane.
I am pleased that the Rosewood event was partly funded through the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.
The former federal Labor government created this program, and to the credit of the coalition government they have continued it to help local communities decide how to best commemorate the Anzac Centenary locally. The program also assisted the Bundamba Anzac Observance Committee to commemorate the March of the Dungarees in Bundamba.
I was happy to offer my support to both projects that help keep alive the memory of the famous March of the Dungarees in the Blair electorate.
This famous march and recruitment drive, which was for the Australian Imperial Force, began with 28 volunteers in the South East Queensland town of Warwick on 16 November 1915. Over the next 12 days they walked some 257 kilometres through country towns and urban communities such as Toowoomba, Gatton, Laidley, Rosewood, Mount Marrow, Walloon, Ipswich and Oxley.
They were called 'the Dungarees' by their commander, Lieutenant Binnie, for the casual denim uniforms they had been issued. Everywhere they stopped, they added new volunteers.
They arrived in Brisbane on 29 November 1915, 100 years ago this Sunday, with 125 volunteers.
When they went through Ipswich, they recruited 42 new volunteers.
The snowball drives aimed to gather new AIF recruits at each town, in the way in which a snowball collects snow.
As the Dungarees approached Ipswich, they were greeted by a spontaneous cheer from a large crowd waiting at the One Mile Bridge. It is interesting to note that I found The Queensland Times on 27 November 1915 reported it as follows:
Business was temporarily suspended, patriotic bunting gaily bedecked the more imposing buildings within the city—
Ipswich - reached across the streets, and was visible even in the hands of the little school mites.
It went on:
Suddenly, the cry: "They're here!" rang out, and sure enough the little band was in sight. The "Dungarees" were a long way off, but the din of cheering, shouting, bands and bugles playing, reached out to them, and they straightened up, and marched down the hill, head erect.
Coming towards Ellenborough-street the dense crowds that lined the balconies and thronged the sides of Brisbane-street raised a terrific cheer that simply drowned the band.
I congratulate the Rosewood and Bundamba communities for their support for this wonderful event.