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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Coo ee - come and join us

2 July 2011
Today I saw more dead kangaroos than I’ve ever seen on the sides of the road. Quite large ones too.  The only time I’ve seen more road kill was armadillos in the Southern states of the USA.

I left Dubbo and stopped for a break in Gilgandra. This is the town of the Coo-ee march. I’d never heard of it so here’s a bit of little known history. 

Apparently after the slaughter of Gallipoli, they were not getting as many volunteers for the Army as they hope. In November 1915, a young man from Gilgandra started the Coo-ee march. The idea was to march all the way to Sydney and whenever they saw a young man they would call out “Coo-ee, come and join us” and this way they would recruit men to the army. With a lot of speeches and parading of local dignitaries on horseback, thirty young men set off from Gilgandra. News spread and every town they came to greeted them with food and military bands and more speeches. By the time they marched into Sydney there were 263 of them.

Ttheir biggest shock in the army was the change in food. From being fed the very best by townspeople along the way, they were put on army rations of lumpy porridge, beef stew for lunch and bread and marmalade for tea. They received a couple of months training in Australia, were shipped off to Egypt for more training then sent into  Europe and the trenches of World War 1. Very few of them came home.

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