Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kalgoorlie Centenary Reenactment March

On August 17th 1914, the Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie was abuzz with excitement. A couple of weeks earlier, the news had arrived that Australia was at war, and that day, 187 eager men gathered to make their way by train to the capital city of Perth. They were the first to enlist from the Goldfields, and they left behind lives, families, and occupations like mining and railway work.

Of those 187 men, around 50 would never return.

Exactly one hundred years later, the Goldfields First Troops Memorial March group staged a moving reenactment on a beautifully clear morning. 187 local men and women marched down Wilson Street to the tune of a pipe band, with a police escort in front and behind, while locals (and visitors like me) cheered them on.

I've been to a few centenary events so far, but none have brought the times to life quite so effectively as this one. Most of the marchers were not in costume, but that only emphasised the fact that the same men one hundred years ago were also ordinary members of the community, leaving behind their homes and families.

Once the marchers were standing to attention outside the train station, the names of the fifty who were killed were read out. As each name was called, the person representing them stepped out of the group and lined up. And when the last name was read, they marched away, off through the station gates. Their absence made an immediate, noticeable difference, and the subsequent playing of the Last Post, the minute's silence, and the singing of Auld Lang Syne was as sad as it must have been jubilant back then.

All in all, the whole reenactment was beautifully done, and very effective. I was only in Kalgoorlie by chance on the day, and I'm so glad I got to go along. I've studied a few of the first 187, and seeing this gave their experience so much more dimension. A bravo to all involved.


  1. Oh, how moving that had to be! Thanks for sharing, Claire.

  2. I've still never had a chance to attend a reenactment of any kind. It must be such a moving way to commemorate an event.