It is with pleasure that I can start this report by stating that The Walk is in tip top shape! The weather has been reasonably kind and everything is growing well and the lawns are as green as I have seen them. We are also in a happy place financially where we can meet all our debts on time when payable. My Annual Report including the audited Financial Report will be tabled at the RARA’s Annual General Meeting in Canberra next month.
Since my last report (a fair while ago now) we of Dads’ Army have been busy little bees and much has been achieved. The aesthetic upgrade of the Contemplation Building is a fine example. As you are probably aware we have replaced the pavers in the forecourt with a concrete slab and have had it coloured in a charcoal hue that surrounds the whole of the building and around the outer edge of the concrete the charcoal has been speckled with white in a band of 30cm wide.
The building itself has been rendered inside and out so there is no brickwork visible and the render is painted in “Surf Mist” (an off white colour) and trimmed with “Manor Red” – very effective.
Greg, our Project Manager, has secured a Government grant to have “Silent Sentries” erected on the two corners of the slab on the Western side of the building. The plinths will be approximately 2 meters high and be square in structure using the same granite as the existing plinths on the forecourt.
Each plinth will have a Golden Soldier similar to that on the Monument in Ferguson Park on Samford Rd and they will placed in such a position that the Soldiers will be looking at the audience within the building. On the remaining sides of each plinth will be our Battle Honours and Awards, Operational Deployments 1948 – 2021 and on the final side icons of the Infantry Combat Badge, the Army Combat Badge and the Army Remembrance Pin for Families.
The next project for the Contemplation Building is the replacement of the antiquated sound system to a modern one that has additional facilities and simpler to use. Additionally, we are purchasing a mobile system for use external to the Contemplation Building such as within the Walk, at Ferguson Park or by the Battalion Associations. The new system will be operational before Remembrance Day, which this year will be a huge day – not only will we have the usual 130 Year 6 students and teachers from McDowall State School but also the 9 RAR Assn’s visit on the same day. That Association is holding their 55th Reunion on the Sunshine Coast and one of their events is a bus trip to the Walk for the ceremony then on to 8/9 RAR for lunch. We expect at least another 100 attendees in a Service separate to the School event.
I know that the ADF has an award called Mentioned In Dispatches (MID) but here at the Walk we have instituted a new internal award called Mentioned In Report (MIR) and the initial awardee is Robert Cross.
This year Robert has washed all the Honour and Garden Signs after the floods to get rid of mud and mold then coated them all with clear gloss Carbothane: they came up looking like new. He then looked around and decided that the plaque plinths looked a tad worse for wear so he repainted all of them, then, of course the plaques looked a tad tardy so cleaned them all and then coated them with clear gloss Carbothane. Then, guess what? He decided that the circular flag holders behind each plaque were falling off due to lack of adhesion so he is replacing the round ones with 19 x 19 square tubes, giving a more adhesive area for the latest of glues. He has done all of this through the week in his own time. Here I must add that the local Bunnings Store at Keperra are donating the tube and cutting it to the 200mm size required.
To top it off Robert has become one of our Chelsea Pensioners, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer with a sad prognosis unless he had an operation. Sensibly, the man that he is, he had the op and the surgeon claimed it a success and got all the cancer out. Good man Robert and thanks for your effort over the year.
I mentioned the Chelsea Pensioners and you are all aware of the sad passing of Margaret, but, on a brighter side Arthur Macdonald and Cec Zabielo are on the mend and turned up for work on Monday. If you are not aware Arthur had his leg severely crushed between a moving boat and a jetty and Cec finally had his eyes operated on and for the first time in years he does not have to use eye drops.
Ted and Ken Cupples ran into John Stevens and his wife last last week and they seem to be doing well. Others on the list like the Woodrow brothers and Mal B are as well as can be expected and are plodding along:no doubt, testing the inner strength (or is that patience) of their spouses, hang in there ladies! We wish you all well.
Another good reason to see Arthur and Cec back is that we are lucky to get a dozen workers now on a Monday morning and most of those have designated tasks like, blowing, trimming etc which leaves the cupboard fairly bare for the odd other job that rears its head where people like Robert can help out “ out of hours”. He lives a kilometer from the Walk. Happily, we have a good working relationship with the resident RAR Battalions who help out when they can. The time of transition of being a discharged soldier to the thought of volunteering as a civilian to join Dad’s Army or other such entities is becoming quiet long. As a committee our concern is obvious and we are looking at ways to correct it. Is there a magic carrot?
In happier news Ken Cupples turned 94 the other week and here is a photo of him cutting his cake. He is one of the constant attendees on Mondays and still gets his job done.
Around the Walk itself many things are happening. Ken Falvey and Dan Penman’s areas are looking a treat and are blossoming and look great with the mix of native flora amid the natural bush land setting. Within that area our Patron Stuart Smith when he was the Commander I Div planted a Lone Pine tree that was one meter high but is now over 5 meters tall and the Anzac grevilleas either side of it are four meters tall and round. An amazing sight.
On the subject of native flora Brisbane City Council are going to donate floral natives including miniature flowering gums for us to plant out in the Walk, ensuring we don’t interfere with current trees or plaques, just to add a bit of colour as you would naturally see in typical Australian bush land/rain forest . It will not be overdone and will lend to the ambience and setting of the Walk. Finally, the Southern Bank near 1 Div HQ has been planted out with ground cover and has taken over what was previously a weed infested area.
In a past Report, I mentioned the spreading of ashes of honourably discharged members of the Regimental – well given our current age – interest seems to have been awoken. I have managed three so far this year and have another two scheduled in October and one in November. So keep it in mind people.
On that somber note I will finish off with the promise of another Report before Christmas.
I wish you and yours all the very best
Keeping The Spirit Alive
Manager The Royal Australian Regiment
National Memorial Walk
P 0458 943 212