On the site of the original barracks and training ground of the Seymour troop of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, established in 1897, is Light Horse Park. At Australia’s Federation, in 1901, the Victorian Mounted Rifles were incorporated into the Australian Light Horse, and after the outbreak of war in 1914 the camp accommodated light horsemen in training. Perhaps the most resonant and evocative remnants of the use of the site during the Great War are the cement horse troughs, whose sturdy construction has seen them weather the years.
Today 150 hectares of the park are traversed by walking paths. Archaeological remains from a long history of occupation of the site are largely from the Second World War. Foundations and building platforms where laundries, bathrooms and kitchens once stood are still evident. From the highest point on Anzac Hill, a visitor can enjoy spectacular views of the countryside around the park. Now it is home to abundant wildlife: kangaroos, koalas and echidnas and seasonal displays of flowering plants.
Outside the perimeter fence, in what is now the Seymour Industrial Estate, are horse drinking troughs thought to have been built before the Great War. Horses known as ‘Walers’, used before the war as hardy stockhorses, proved invaluable in the Middle East for their endurance and ability to withstand the stress of the deprivation of food and water. There was no lack of water during training at Seymour, however.
During the Great War this area was designated Camp 17. Above it, in Light Horse Park, are the foundations of ablution and latrine blocks that date back to the war. Soldiers’ accommodation was always in tents, so there are no remains of barrack blocks from the time.
Further south, on the west side of Seymour, is the Puckapunyal Camp and a museum in which army vehicles from most of the conflicts in which Australia has been involved are preserved and are on public display.
The horse troughs can still hold water and are a tangible link to one of the last uses of cavalry.
Our Heritage Our Future website for Light Horse Park: http://www.lighthorsepark.org.au/index.php/2011-05-10-05-18-41/the-militaryhistory
Anzac Research Bulletin Board: https://banzacresearch.runboard.com/t655
Seymour Telegraph article, 21 November 2013: http://www.mmg.com.au/local-news/seymour/australian-light-horse-memorial-park-plan-released-1.62616