Both my parents served in the Australian Armed Forces, my mother as an army nurse and my father as a soldier. As a child I lived in army barracks, often overseas and was fully immersed into military life.
In a way the army became my extended family and the relationships I formed as a child and young woman with my army “family” are still my most enduring friendships. My parents had an inexplicable mateship with anyone in the army “family”. If you are army - we are mates forever! If you need something we are here to help you. I had a charmed childhood. Days filled with people you instantly trusted coming and going inside their homes and ours.
ANZAC day always ranked highly on our yearly calendar of events.
It was a much-anticipated event in the barracks. With batch cooking biscuits, wreath making, and tablecloth ironing amongst the list of things to do. I believe my love of flowers and the understanding of how they contribute meaning was formed before I was even five years old. It just took me many years and a career as a clinical psychologist, to come full circle.
I find myself anticipating ANZAC Day and understanding how flowers add meaning and soften the scars on this day. It is the day I miss my father the most. ANZAC day for our family starts the day before, April 24th- on Kapyong Day. Both my parents served in the Korean War and this day was reserved for special stories and remembering. I can still remember the names of my parent’s friends, their antics and those who did not come home. This day was also marked as the beginning of my parents love story, as they meet during service in Japan.
I accompanied my father to every dawn service from the age of 3 years old. I remember walking in the darkness with my Dad, step by step as we had practiced to lay the wreath we had made. Many years on, I still try to attend the ANZAC dawn service. For me it is a moment to stand still and give thanks for this rich country we live in.
Dawn service was different as a child. If I’m being honest, the main attraction was the wonderful feast we had all cooked in the day’s prior. Sausages dripping with brown onion gravy scooped up with naughty chunks of ripped bread. The smell of beer and men hugging – an unusual sight in my childhood.
Find a Local ANZAC Day Dawn Service
Mudgee: 6am at Robertson Park, Mudgee 2850
Gulgong: 6am at ANZAC park, Gulgong (meet at the Fire Station 5:45)
Rylstone: 6am at Rylstone Memorial Park
Kandos: 6am at Kandos Community Hall
The ANZAC March
In the days before ANZAC Day, Dad would open the velvet-lined box that his metals rested in. Those medals! They would have a small polish and be laid out with his starched uniform in readiness. Oh, the anticipation. If I could package up my childhood memories, the feeling of pride I felt as I watched my Dad march, would be one of the first I would pack. I loved the occasion, the pride, the sound of feet, the scent of rosemary and the sea of flowers.
ANZAC Day 2019 March
Mudgee- 10.40 a.m march from Club Mudgee to Robertson Park. main service 11.00a.m.
Gulgong - 10.45 am March from Gulgong fire station to Anzac Park. main service 11.00 a.m
Kandos - 10.45 a.m. march from the Rotunda, Angus Ave. Main service 11.00a.m.
'Cream Puff' Cannons
After ANZAC day in 1968, my friends and I took all the flowers from the memorial and repurposed them by decorating the large cannons on the base, which announced the entrance of the Barracks. Needless to say it was not appreciated and even the local Papua New Guinea newspaper reported that the soldiers had turned to “cream puffs”! It was my first large installation! Regardless of what the newspaper thought, I remember it as beautiful creation.
The last post was always sounded at dusk with a real bugle.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
The same words we said at my father’s funeral in 1991 and the same last post played by a solo bugle player.
I was a teenager in the 70’s. It was a very passionate time. Full of angst and the ending of the Vietnam War - Yes we protested, and yes it was confusing for an Army Brat. During this time my brother joined the family business and I joined the protest. As an adult, I’ve come to realise that ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war. It’s about many different things for many different people - but for me, it’s about Pride, Respect, Remembering, Gratitude and Community.
“ANZAC is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour, and the survival of a sense of self-worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.” - Sir William Deane
I'm an ANZAC Day Florist
I achieved my childhood dream of becoming a florist at age Fifty-Six. Now Sixty years, this will be my 4th ANZAC Day working in Mudgee with Wreaths and Rosemary Lapels, while thinking about my Dad and his mates. My anticipation for the day has not changed. It is an honour to be trusted to create Wreaths and Button Lapels for many of Mudgee’s organisations and groups. When my father died in 1991 we became part of another army family, the Legacy Family. I have gratitude for all the assistance they still provide to my Mum. The Mudgee legacy ANZAC Day Wreath will always be a thank you gift from us.