Now for the unveiling on the 21st of October. The completed bus stops were exactly as I envisaged them 12 years ago,
Australian hardwood courtesy of the ADF for the seats, concrete sandbags and corrugated iron, the iron also courtesy
of the ADF in the ceiling of the two stops.
Apart from the construction my intention always was that these would be an education piece, not about who won or lost,
not about those killed or wounded but a project which maintains the link with the younger veterans and civilians.
On the back wall of each stop are four panels with slang of the era’s, and for those with smartphones a QR Code
to swipe or old school can go to the dub, dub, dub place and log onto the ANZAC Cottage website for explanations.
So I have Gallipoli just up the road from ANZAC Cottage, because the recipient of this house Pte John Cuthbert Porter,
which was built in one day by 400 people in 1916 was the first WA soldier wounded and RTA from Gallipoli.
And about 150m away around on ANZAC Road I have Nui Dat, because the Vietnam Veterans Assn saved
ANZAC Cottage from demolition back in 1992. Being my project, I was able to insert a “where’s Wally’ concept
on this mural. I had the artist paint the Kangaroo and 6 and then in two locations our Company flag and V4.
Can’t do this for the future without leaving the NZ in ANZAC again! Within the slang of this era is ANZAC’s
in Vietnam, the explanation being about RNZIR and the three RAR Battalions, just letting people know that
not every Vietnam Veteran can legitimately call himself an ANZAC.
On the 21st a 1950’s bus arrived at each stop with children, grand children, younger veterans, members of the
Porter family and VIP’s. At Nui Dat they were met by Vietnam Veterans and handed a Poppy signifying the
empowerment to carry on the remembrance of servicemen and woman into the future. The Poppies were laid
on and around the sandbags. The same procedure was followed at Gallipoli, then across the road to the Cottage
for a few formal speeches and plenty of food.
I wanted to use three components common to WW1 and Vietnam in the revamp, they being timber, iron and sandbags.
Well timber and iron were easy, the sandbags I didn’t find until l went home to Nelson after Waiouru last year.
So it’s now 15 years on from the brain fart idea.
Over then next few months I tracked down the L/Cpl Engineer in Burnham who project managed the Nelson job,
15 tonnes of concrete and 600 sandbags.
In March this year as the now President of the Friends of ANZAC Cottage with a good committee around me and
after doing a bit of “old boy net” communicating with RNZE’s and RAE’s here in Perth, I made formal application to
both forces for support. One approval to bring the L/Cpl to Perth from RNZE’s and two to use the resources of
13Fd Sqn RAE here in Perth. The deadline for completion was 10th of November the day before Armistice Day,
but I wanted it finished before the end of October, so this could be the first of many projects to mark 11/11/18.
The next nine days flew by and involved a lot of community support with the local primary school bringing lunch down
to the guys each day, a neighbour putting on a traditional Italian BBQ and the mural artist being allowed to carry out
the painting of the two murals at the primary school giving the students the opportunity to watch him apply his skills.
Where too from here, well this concept will go commercial and we have had strong interest from many local locations,
no more “love jobs” by Pete.
First problem, the Brigadier at Landforce in Trentham who had to approve my request was in the process of
moving to Chief of Army. Second problem, the L/Cpl RNZE was only available to come over for 10 days,
it was going to take 9 to build subject to weather. Third problem the ADF request had drifted off into
Cyberspace somewhere, oh and there was the small matter of a $47,000.00 budget.
But when that ‘wait a while” wraps around you, it’s just a matter of stopping and going out the way you’ve come in.
So backed up, and all of a sudden had approval from NZDF, nothing from the ADF but had a verbal from the
OC of the RAE Sqn. Received funding from the Bendigo Bank, the City of Vincent and Rosewood Homes,
the rest I would massage out as “in kind”. So double check all padlocks and alarm systems!
L/Cpl Andy Good arrived 17th of September and hit the ground running along with four RAE’s.
The media coverage was fantastic from both print and TV and this project has certainly left a mark as the first in this State
to celebrate Armistice Day 100 years on.
Again, we put the New Zealand into ANZAC.
Two days before the project was completed I received approval to proceed with this ANZAC initiative from the ADF,
hmmmm sorry I am already wearing your GP boots!
L/Cpl Good RTNZ on the 26th of September but not before some formal engagements with the Deputy Mayor and
the OC and members of 13Fd Regt, he also lowered the flag at ANZAC Cottage at the end of day 9.
L/Cpl Good was a great ambassador for the NZDF in his work ethic, trade skills and community engagement at all levels,
I am proud of his achievement whilst working with us.
When I stepped down from the position of State President Vietnam Veterans Assn WA in 2006 I wanted to carry on
with community based projects, having completed the naming of six streets in a new subdivision in 2002
after the then, six Australians still MIA in Vietnam.
With the ten year rebuild scalp of ANZAC Cottage hanging on the wall after the RSL turned it down because
it was all too hard, the revamping of two bus stops close to the cottage would be a walk in the park, perhaps.
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