Transcription of an article titled ‘The Great Route March : the tremendous Bathurst welcome’ from The Farmer and Settler, 2 November, 1915, p. 3, [part 1 of 3].
‘The Great Route March
THE TREMENDOUS BATHURST WELCOME.
The recruiting march from Gilgandra to the sea has now reached the Blue Mountains, and is entering upon its fourth week. Captain Eade, of Lithgow, who has lately had disciplinary charge of the men, has done much towards making an army out of a mob, and by the time the column marches into Sydney it will be of a strength and of a character that the defence authorities will gladly approve.
After leaving Bathampton on Thursday morning dinner was provided for the marching column at Evans’ Plains, and the march then continued to Bathurst.
The pre-arranged time of arrival at the outskirts of the town was four o’clock, so, as good time had been made on the journey, an hour or more was put in at squad drill. The preparations of the Bathurst Recruiting Committee were elaborate and complete in every particular. All Bathurst was out to do honor to the men from the Castlereagh, and the children of all schools made a remarkable display, dressed in the costumes of the Allied nations. The cadets, under Col. Paul, and the school children lined the road, and then a procession was formed. Mounted police led, followed by the mayor and aldermen, and the Salvation Army and City Bands; a party of returned wounded soldiers, enjoying a holiday as guests of the Bathurst Red Cross Society, headed the “Coo-ees,” and the Bathurst unit fell in behind with their banner.
Hundreds of people lined the route, and the mile-long procession wound its way along the gaily decorated streets amid the cheers of the onlookers, and the ringing of church bells to King’s Parade, where an enclosure had been made in front of tho Soldiers’ Monument.
The wind had been rising all day, and at half-past four, just as the procession was turning into King’s Parade a “southerly buster” swirled the dust in clouds around the marching men. Alderman Beavis, Mayor of Bathurst, briefly welcomed Captain Hitchen and his coo-ees, for whom rousing cheers were given; then, as rain seemed imminent, the ladies dispensed afternoon tea and cigarettes in All Saints’ school-room, instead of outside as had been previously arranged.
The camp for the night was at the show ground, where also the ladies, marshalled by the Mayoress, served dinner to the hungry “Coo-ees.” Fortunately the weather cleared, so that no more alterations to the programme were necessary. At 7.30 a continental was opened in Machattie Park, the selections by the District and City Bands being interspersed with recruiting speeches. A more beautiful setting could not have been found anywhere than in this park, with its well ordered paths, trim greenery, and the lights from the band rotunda glistening on the water playing from the fountain, about which the great crowd had assembled. Sweets and tobacco stalls were dotted about, at which purchases might be made by all except “Coo-ees,” who had been provided with badges that franked them to everything inside the park gates. Supper was served by another staff of ladies in a large tent specially erected for the occasion.
The Mayor, as chairman, introduced Dr. Machattie, Captain Eade, Sergeant Lee, and Private Fern, M.L.A., the member for Cobar, who was going to Cobar that night on final leave, and also to bring down a hundred men from the farthest west to join the column at Penrith.
These gentlemen addressed heart-to-heart, straight-from-the-shoulder recruiting arguments to the young men of Bathurst, not forgetting to point out to the women of Bathurst—Indeed, of all Australia—their duty in this awful war. Ten men had fallen into line with the recruits in tho procession as the Bathurst unit; eleven more men now came for- ward, so that the hundred and thirty odd that marched into the Queen City of the West formed a longer line by the addition of twenty-one “Bathurst Boomerangs.” Every recruit was presented with a trinket in the form of a boomerang, with Bathurst engraved on it, and the lo-cal unit was called “Bathurst Boomerangs” because “they go out to return.” While the heartiness of the welcome accorded the men of the column at Bathurst could not be any more sincere, or better demonstrated by the responsible citizens, than that of the other towns en- countered en route from Gilgandra, there can be no doubt that this was the big reception to date. Every man of the “Coo-ees” agrees that he had everything that could be desired at the hands of the citizens of Bathurst.’
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