Like many parts in Queensland, Rockhampton region’s rich First World War heritage is seen through the physical incarnations and memorials such as the new Emu Park Anzac Memorial Walk. The precinct includes a large memorial featuring metal silhouettes of soldiers and a boardwalk which winds along the headland. Also the Gatehouse which opened in 2016 features 26 floor-to-ceiling First World War story boards including portraits of locals. One well known personality profiled is Annie Wheeler whose collection of letters resides at State Library of Queensland.
Adjacent to the Memorial Walk is the Emu Park Memorial Cenotaph – a white painted obelisk cenotaph, standing outside the Emu Park RSL Sub Branch. It was erected in 1921 and displays Rolls of Honour to Emu Park Soldiers who took part in the First World War. Additional memorial walls and plaques commemorating subsequent conflicts have been erected and now form a memorial place.
Begun in April 1919 and not completed until 1939, Yeppoon ‘s Anzac Parade was constructed to provide easy access to Yeppoon Hospital at the far southern end of the esplanade and memorialises the 60 soldiers from the area who enlisted in the First World War. Previously access to the hospital from the north was along the beach or through the sand dunes. The hospital was originally established during the First World War as a convalescent home with many of the first patients being returned servicemen.
A visit to the Rockhampton & District Historical Society reveals this tablecloth embroidered with the signatures of donors to the Red Cross during the First World War
Hanging on the wall of the Society rooms is a painting of Dr Norman Charles Talbot, Medical practitioner who served the Central Queensland community for over 40 years.
Dr Talbot served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, in France receiving the Military Cross for Gallantry. The Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association Inc. has undertaken extensive research into the life of Dr Talbot and his service to Rockhampton is remembered through a street named after him and naming of the Tablot Estate in South Rockhampton.
While speaking to John Fletcher (president of the Rockhampton & District Historical Society), the story of his father, John M. Fletcher (Senior) was shared. John Fletcher (senior) was a soldier settler at Ridgelands settlement near Rockhampton having served in the Australian Flying Corps.
The Rockhampton Historical Village also displays a number of First World War items, with a reproduction of a First World war trench, a Red Cross wagon and a 1916 Christmas embroidery from Henry to Aunty Mary.
The C.Q. Military and Artifacts Museum has a large Central Queensland related military history collection on display at its premises in Rockhampton. The museum features local servicemen and servicewomen including uniforms, medals, honour boards and wartime souvenirs.
The Victoria Park precinct at Sir Raymond Huish Drive at South Rockhampton is the location of a number of war related memorials including the 2nd World War Memorial Aquatic Centre and the John Leak Monument.
John Leak is the first Queenslander to be awarded the Victoria Cross. It was awarded to him for bravery and heroism displayed on 23 July 2016 during the Battle of Pozieres in France. John Leak enlisted from Rockhampton on January 28 1915 into the 9th Battalion. He was 23 years old when he embarked from Brisbane on board HMAT A55 to the Gallipoli peninsular on April 16 1915.
A number of war memorials are also located in the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, among them the Rockhampton War Memorial.
The tallest and the most costly war monument in Queensland (2,654 pounds in 1924), this Cenotaph to the First World War is a major regional war memorial. The memorial stands 64 feet from the ground and is of Gracemere Grey granite.
- Annie Wheeler’s Red Index Boxes of stories by Ursula Cleary
- Anzac Parade
- Dr Norman Talbot
- John Leak
- Rockhampton War Memorial
Niles Elvery, Regional Coordinator, Q ANZAC 100, State Library of Queensland