How "derelict" land became Anzac memorial

Published 5:00pm 23 April 2024

How "derelict" land became Anzac memorial
Words by Nick Crockford

Residents in Wamuran are commemorating Anzac Day this year in person - and in print.

Hundreds will be up before dawn on Thursday at the traditional 5am service in Wamuran National Servicemen’s Memorial Park.

And the park is honoured in a new book about the challenges to convert "derelict" railway land by the D’Aguilar Highway into a centrepiece for the town.

Phil Lovering (pictured above), Chairman of Wamuran Progress Association, who edited the book, said it was a record of “social history we mustn’t lose”.

“I knew what had happened and heard some of the stories,” he said, “but many were just so-and-so did this and that, it was never recorded.

“It’s the same in villages throughout the world. So this book is a small section of the social history of this town.

How "derelict" land became Anzac memorial
Phil Lovering with the book about the history of Wamuran's Memorial Park.

“The Nashos built this against all odds and this full history of the park really comes down to a group of tenacious old bastards.”

The Creation of the National Servicemen’s Memorial Park in Wamuran is available in hardback for $41 and soft-back $20. Sales will cover production costs.

It is an excellent tribute to a community’s determination to “fight for a monument to the gallant citizens who answered the call for National Service”.

The book records the start of the local Nasho branch, when the park plan was first discussed and the land earmarked for today’s memorial.

How Queensland Rail wanted $80,000 for the land, recalls former Deputy Mayor and Councillor Greg Chippendale a contributor to the book.

When Nasho Noel McEwen and his wife Cecille took their concerns to State Member Bill Feldman, who writes he was “totally aghast” and joined the campaign.

It took two years but the battle was won, with Mr Feldman paying tribute to Noel McEwan, saying he was a man with “the tenacity of Moses, strength of Samson and heart of King David”.

How "derelict" land became Anzac memorial
Flags flying in the rain at the Memorial Park in Wamuran last year.

The Nasho’s fundraising included an unexpected gift of $45,000 “in a plastic bag” from a resident and the memorial was ready for Remembrance Day 2002 when 2500 people packed the park.

The “ageing Nashos” stopped running Anzac Day and Remembrance Day events in 2020 and Wamuran Progress Association took over.

Their first Anzac Day ceremony was in 2022, in pouring rain. “The poor band was soaked, their instruments and music were wet, but everyone kept going,” Phil Lovering says, “no-one left”.

Rain returned last year and the Anzac Day service was moved, at late notice, into the community hall. But the forecast is good for Thursday and organisers are “hoping for a big turnout”.

Moreton Bay City Council libraries have ordered four copies of The Creation of the National Servicemen’s Memorial Park in Wamuran and the office of Mayor Peter Flannery, who has written the foreword, one.

Mr Lovering said hard copies will also be given to university libraries and local schools so "the history of this place is there for kids to see".

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