Father Patrick Killian, a native of Edenderry, County Offaly, Ireland, served as parish priest at the local Catholic church at Balranald from 1919–1934 and had been chaplain to the 4th Light Horse Regiment in Palestine during the Great War. There he witnessed the courage and determination of the men of the 4th as they galloped with bayonets drawn in what became the last great cavalry charge, at Beersheba in October 1917. He shared many experiences with these men, both during and after the war, as he worked for their welfare.
His story, and that of other locals, is well worth telling, and visitors to Balranald are able to share the community’s rich military history through a specially designed trail of interpretative plaques. ‘Courage, Initiative and Resilience’ is the theme of the trail, telling stories of men, women and children who contributed to their community and who supported those serving abroad. The trail project was not conceived as a memorial to individuals, but as a means of passing on stories of importance to a wider audience, and especially younger generations, before they are forgotten. It complements the town’s existing memorials, allowing for a deeper understanding of the roles that individuals played during times of international conflict. With the signs spaced some distance apart, the visitor has time to reflect on each individual story before reaching the next, creating a pilgrimage experience.
Families, locals and organisations are being encouraged to contribute to the project, which will allow for the installation of between thirty and forty story signs over the Anzac Centenary period of 2014–2018. Stories from other conflicts will be added in due course. By encouraging the involvement of different generations and groups, a sense of community ownership will ensure that additional story signs will be added and people will be inclined to revisit the trail.
The project gained the support of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Saluting Their Service grants program, though much of the work involved in creating the story boards and signs has been provided by volunteers. Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, commented that he was ‘inspired by the outstanding initiative shown by community members of Balranald NSW in creating this tribute to honour the sacrifice and contributions of people from the local community’.
Courage, Initiative and Resilience: The Balranald and District Military Heritage Trail Project
Phone 0418 227122
Phone 03) 5020 6808
Phone (03) 5020 1742