Anzac Day in Belmore Park, noon, Saturday April 25 | Goulburn Post


news, local-news, anzac day, belmore park, honour roll, blake robertson, margaret murdoch, len mcgrath

A sprig of rosemary; a flower chain of poppies. These were among the simple tributes placed at the Belmore Park Honour Roll today. As communities continue to live under pandemic restrictions, Anzac Day commemorations could have become a casualty to the virus. But small gestures still have big meaning for those who took the time to stop in silence and remember the sacrifice of loved ones. From driveway dedications at dawn, lit by candles and torches, to a trickling procession of tributes in the park, Goulburn did not forget. Margaret Murdoch of Goulburn placed a sprig of rosemary for her brother Len McGrath, whose name is immortalised on the roll. She was just a girl when her brother, late of Mackay in Queensland and 18 years her senior, was sent to New Guinea as a WWII medic. He never spoke of his wartime experiences on his return, she said. The New Guinea campaign in the Pacific began in January 1942, lasting three and half years until the end of the war in August 1945. Australian and US forces defeated the surrendering Japanese. Margaret was one of five children, including Len and three sisters, all of whom have now passed. She was also widowed in 2018. Len moved his family to Mackay many years ago, and it’s where he is now buried. Margaret was not able to travel to attend his funeral. She said she came to the Honour Roll in Belmore Park on Anzac Day every year, and found comfort in remembering Len and others. Blake Robertson of Taralga, accompanied by his mother, Valerie, also came to the Honour Roll in the early afternoon of Saturday. He gently place a flower chain of poppies, having observed dawn with a dedication at the end of their driveway among neighbours. Blake, a member of the Goulburn Mulwaree Youth Council, trekked the 97-kilometre Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea last year. Goulburn Soldiers Club had sponsored Blake and fellow trekkers Jack Burke and Alex Parlett (Trinity Catholic College) and nursing student Elise Thorthwaite (Australian Catholic University) on the 10-day trek led by Charlie Lynn’s Adventure Kokoda. The Goulburn High School graduate had been looking forward to several speaking engagements this year about his experience. But his talks had to be cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. Blake, a military history buff who had sought out the headstone of Victoria Cross recipient Private Bruce Kingsbury while in PNG, had said on his return last October that the trek was “emotional”. Kokoda was no longer just something he had read about in books, he said. It had “changed me, and everyone who has been on it.” In Belmore Park, Blake stood for a moment with his mother Valerie to silently remember family who had served various theatres of war. Blake wore a striped knitted beanie he had bought from Papua New Guinean craftswomen, who now eke out a living along the famous Trail where, from July to November 1942, the Kokoda Track campaign was fought between Australian and Japanese forces.

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