Anzac Day at Murchison Settlement
We got up early on 25 April to drive 140km from Yuin Station to Murchison Settlement for the Anzac Day Dawn Ceremony. Fortunately due to the distances that most attendees had to drive, the dawn service was scheduled to start at 10am.
We’d allowed a couple of hours for the drive that involved following instructions to turn left after we’d crossed six cattle grids, slowing down to allow a pair of wedge-tailed eagles to move off the track (they’re not known for their rapid take-offs), half a dozen kangaroo sitings, five successful creek/river crossings, plus one aborted river crossing, a u-turn and a detour which added a few kilometres on to the journey. It’s slow going on these station tracks, especially after recent heavy rains and washed out areas.
Two and a half hours and 165km later we pulled into Murchison Settlement right on 10 o’clock.
Along with the four generations of Foulkes-Taylors from Yuin Station, our friends David and Frances from Wooleen Station were also there. Fortunately the day was running on “Murchison time” so there were some quick hellos and hugs before the ceremony got underway.
Shire president and Yuin station owner Rossco conducted the service. His wife Emma is also a current shire councillor. This may seem rather unusual but Murchison Settlement, which covers an area of 50,000 sq/km and 29 stations, has a population of just 113, not all of whom are eligible to stand. In fact it’s the only local government in Australia that doesn’t even have a town.
After the ceremony, there was morning tea in the area behind the red-dirt polo field where Rossco presented the annual Volunteer of the Year award to Paul Lukitsch.
Originally from Milwaukee Paul came to Australia as a much younger man and settled in the Northern Territory. A few years ago he decided to drive from the western-most point of Australia to the eastern-most. He reached Murchison Settlement when the weather broke and the roads were closed for several days. That gave Paul enough time to get to know the community and after completing his road trip he returned to Murchison Settlement to live. He now spends much of his time tending the long tunnel of vegetables he created. Locals can help themselves to fresh produce in return for a donation…Paul in turn donates that money to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Following morning tea there was a lively community discussion around the feral dog and cat issue. A cricket match was scheduled but due to lack of numbers bowls and arm wrestling became the competitive pursuits for the afternoon for those who weren’t watching the Anzac footy game on the TV.