The little Oak tree has become a very important tree at Coimadai. On Sunday the 17th of May 150 people came to see it being planted along with the lone Pine tree. This is in preparation for the 100 year re-enactment which will take place on the 27th of June. All Association members, friends, supporters and descendants of the volunteers are invited to attend the official opening of the Coimadai Memorial Park on this date. The park has been constructed and the Avenue of Honour reinstated with financial assistance from the Federal Government, the Department of Premier & Cabinet, The Office of Living Victoria and Moorabool Shire Council. The park is situated within the picnic area of Southern Rural Waters Merrimu Reservoir and that institution has been very supportive of the Association objectives and work progress. The opening day will be a partial re-enactment of a ceremony in June 1918, when the Anglican Bishop, arriving by horse and cart, dedicated the trees in the newly planted Avenue and the Coimadai School children placed a wreath on the plaques of those soldiers killed in action. The children then sang WWI songs. In our ceremony, Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins will be arriving by horse and jinker, accompanied by the Creswick Light Horse Brigade. The Coimadai School children, dressed in period costume, will place wreaths on 32 crosses installed in the park fence and the whole group will sing WWI songs, accompanied by musicians from the Kyneton, Daylesford and Geelong brass bands. The park will be officially opened by Senator The Honourable Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veterans Affairs. Weather permitting, we expect 1,000 people on the day.
For our commemoration the whole school and local community were involved in the ceremony. Dignities included Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, Local Councillor Colleen Condliff, Director of Catholic Education Sandhurst Mr Paul Desmond, RSL Welfare Officer Mr Michael Hobson and Returned Serviceman Mr Arthur Alsop.
We held a special assembly to plant the tree. We were assisted by the Crib Point RSL Vice President, Mr Frank Penfold, and also had some input from our local Navy Base, HMAS CERBERUS. The school captainswere involved by reading the Ode and some other senior students undertook the suggested readings. The oak was planted at the end of our soon to be constructed memorial path which was made possible through a Anzac Centenary Grant.
An inspirational multi-faith ceremony was the result of close cooperation between three western suburban schools: Ilim College (a Muslim coeducational P-12 school with campuses in Dallas and Glenroy), Mt Ridley Secondary College (a state 7-12 college in Craigieburn) and Penola College (A Catholic Regional College in Broadmeadows) coordinated by an education consultant Ms Helen Schiele.
The ceremony was titled “From War to Peace, A Walk of Harmony”. The three schools are sending a combined group of students to Turkey in April coinciding with the ANZAC Day service at Gallipoli. Students and staff members of the three schools participated in the ceremony in the Sanctuary in the presence of the Turkish Consul General and the CO 4 Combat Services Support Battalion. The ceremony concluded with the Turkish and Australian National Anthems. Shrine support was provided by Dale Capron with ceremonial support from two Shrine Guards. A staff member from Penola College provided the bugle calls. The Age newspaper interviewed (and photographed) the students after the ceremony. All in all it was a most worthwhile ceremony underlining the multi cultural nature of our society.
A further ceremony was to be conducted later in the day at Maygar Barracks in Broadmeadows which is the headquarters of 4 Combat Services Support Battalion (4CSSB) and was the site of a training camp in August 1914.
Background information provided included the following eloquent statement. The Shire of Broadmeadows in 1914 was a rural country town on the outskirts of the bustling city of Melbourne. The men of this quiet township heard the call to arms and enlisted to fight for God, King and Country. On the other side of the world the men of the Gallipoli Peninsula rushed to protect their homeland and formed the 57th Regiment. This regiment was the force that first met head on the troops landed at ANZAC Cove and fought with great loss of life.
We held a special Tree Planting Commemorative Ceremony where the President/ Secretary of Bayswater RSL and the School Captains participated by not only planting the Gallipoli Oak that was donated but also a Lone Pine (Aleppo) seedling. Children from each class in the school planted a long stemmed poppy with a personal message attached around each of the seedlings.
Our Primary school held a Tree Planting Commemorative Ceremony where we planted not only the Gallipoli Oak received from the National Trust but also the Aleppo Pine Tree donated by the government. A representative from the Bayswater RSL was in attendance and assisted our School Captains and Principal with the planting.
We held a planting ceremony at Jamieson Primary School Arboretum, Chenery Street, Jamieson. Attendees included Jamieson locals, descendants of WWI veterans, the Eildon Member of State Parliament Cindy McLeish, and RSL member Tony Dennis. Students were involved in readings and the ceremony.