Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Coo-ees: moving pictures of the march

Moving pictures were taken of the 1915 Coo-ee March, and shown in many NSW picture theatres soon after the march finished.

The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (29 October 1915, p. 4) reported the following about the moving pictures taken of the march:
‘Poets may sing, their songs may survive through generations; their burning words may cause posterity to thrill with pride; statesmen may find fame, and Australian soldiers win their wreaths of glory. But Bill Hitchen, his name and his memory, will survive unto the end of time, and 500 years hence, let us hope, the moving pictures will show the people of that futurity Bill Hitchen and his “Coo-ees” on their magnetic march to the front. We hope the idea will not be forgotten.’[1]

Mr. H. T. Blacket from Dubbo (who accompanied the Coo-ees in his motor car) wrote about the film taken in a letter to his wife written on 31st October 1915 while the Coo-ees were in Wallerawang, which was published in The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (2 November 1915, p. 3):
“… The march to Bathurst was most imposing, and a moving picture was taken. If it is on at Dubbo you should see it. Ask the picture men to let you know if any of the “Coo-ee” pictures are to be shown.”[2]

The contents of the film was described in the Orange newspaper The Leader (24 November 1915, p. 2) as follows:
To-morrow night all Orange should pack the Monarchs’ Picture palace to view the screening of Hitchen’s Gilgandra Coo-ees’ entry into Orange. There will be 1100 feet of film shown depicting the crowd lining the route of march down Byng Street, the reception at the Town Hall, and incidents connected with the contingent. It is safe to say that every person who came into the scope of the camera will wish to see how he or she looks on the screen, and there fore we predict a big house. There will also be shown the entry into Wellington, Lithgow, Katoomba, etc till the final grand entry into Martin Place, Sydney. A chance is offered to the public of Orange to visit the Monarchs to-morrow night to pick out their friends and themselves. We understand that the pictures are exceedingly clear, and a triumph in local motion photography.’[3]

Another advertisement in The Leader (12 November 1915, p. 7) lists the film appearing at Monarch Pictures as ‘Australian Gazette … Gilgandra Coo-ees’, with the description ‘Showing from Wellington to their arrival in Sydney. See the Coo-ees and yourself while they were in Orange’.[4]

An advertisement in the Sunday Times (14 November, 1915, p. 16) describes footage of the Coo-ees marching through Enmore and Newton in Sydney:
That took place at Enmore Theatre, on Friday, Showing
And the Crowds outside the
See Yourself in this Great Australian Event.’[5]

I found a reference to a film titled ‘Australian Gazette, c1915. WW1 Recruitment Drive’ on the National Film and Sound Archive catalogue, and purchased a copy of the film a few months ago. The film is of the Coo-ee March, but is so badly deteriorated that of the approximately 6.5 minutes of film, only about 20-30 seconds remains visible, and this was of very poor quality. The film’s title cards ‘Arrival at Wellington’, ‘The reception at Orange’, ‘Calling for recruits at the Town Hall’ , ‘Crossing the Blue Mountains near Lawson’, ‘The arrival at Sydney on Friday 12th November’, and ‘A cheer from the wounded soldiers’ are still visible on the deteriorated film. From the content of this film, it appears it may be the same film as the Australian Gazette ‘Gilgandra Coo-ees’ film that was widely screened soon after the Coo-ee March finished in late 1915.

Unfortunately it appears that the film taken of the Coo-ee March, which apparently was made into numerous copies, and shown in many picture theatres, has not survived even 100 years.

I do not know if the NFSA has the only copy of this film that survives to the current day, but it is a great shame that of all the copies that were circulated and shown in late 1915, not a single one appears to have survived in a viewable format.

If anyone knows of any surviving film footage of the 1915 Coo-ee March please contact me.

[1] ‘Our Soldiers, The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 29 October 1915, p. 4,

[2] ‘The “Coo-ees” : a day by day account’, The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 2 November 1915, p. 3,

[3] ‘The Coo-ees at the Monarchs’, Leader, 24 November 1915, p. 2,

[4] ‘Advertising … Monarch Pictures, to-morrow night’, The Leader, 12 November 1915, p. 7,

[5] Advertising… Enmore Theatre’, Sunday Times, 14 November 1915, p. 16,

The Coo-ees grow tired of talkers : an open letter to the Mayor of Blayney

Transcription of an article titled “The Coo-ees “ from The Bathurst Times, 26 October, 1915, p. 3.


Dear Mr. Mayor, — It is said that the brave Coo-ees from Gilgandra are growing tired of listening to addresses. In the hope that Blayney will use the good sense for which it is noted, these lines are respectfully penned to its chief citizen.

When we reach the town of Blayney
you can give us of your cheer,
You can spread a meal before us with
perhaps a glass of beer;
You can give us pipes and matches, and
a pair or two of socks,
But don’t allow the fellow near who
only talks and talks!

They talked at us in Dubbo, and they
talked in Wellington,
They chin-chined too, at Geurie, and
we thought it only fun;
At Stuart Town and Orange they dished
up the same old stuff
So now we’re getting sick of it, we
feel we’ve had enough!

We ‘ve got to visit Bathurst and a dozen
other towns,
And want to show a smiling face, and
not a face of frowns;
But when they fire speeches at a bloke
from morn till dark
He’s bound to cut up rusty; it would
make an angel nark!

Unless a change is brought about I’ll
give the game a break,
Because, you see, they’ll kill us with
the speeches that they make!
Why don’t they bottle up their gab,
just let ’em get to work
They ought to leave our chaps alone
and try it on a Turk!

When we left old Gilgandra we were fit
for anything,
Because we love our Empire, and be-
cause we love our King,
But since we’ve got along the road that
leads to Coogee Beach,
We’ve grown to hate the thoughts of
men who want to make a speech.

So Mister Mayor, if you please, don’t
take us in and talk,
Just mind that we are tired, for
we’ve had a weary walk,
Just give us each a hand grip; there
is not a bettor way
To let a fellow understand the words
you’d like to say.

Yours truly, DOUBLE O SIX.
Gilgandra Troop,
On the Wallaby,
Millthorpe, Monday.’

Click here to view the article on Trove:


Mr. G. J. Gilmour: sheepskin vests, and ‘records of the march’

Mr George John Gilmour, of Rose Street, Chatswood, was a former resident of the Gilgandra district, and a director of The Land newspaper.  Following a visit to meet the Coo-ees when they were in Lawson, he arranged for funds to be raised to purchase sheepskin vests for the Coo-ees, which were presented to them on Friday 14th January 1916 at Her Majesty’s Theatre.[1]

According to an article in The Land newspaper (31 March 1916), Mr Gilmour also proposed to collect ‘records of the march’, for ‘purposes of record in the Mitchell Library’, which would include ‘the photograph, signature, place of enlistment, and country addresses of each member of this, the first of the route marches, together with the relevant original correspondence’ in ‘consultation with Mr. Hugh Wright, the Librarian, Mr. H. P. Williams, Managing Editor of “The Land”, and Mr. Palmer of the Immigration and Tourist Bureau’.  The article also stated that ‘Mr. Palmer, who as a member of Headquarters Staff, was closely associated with the Gilgandra march, already has in his possession a card containing the autographs of the officers and men, obtained when the “Coo-ees” were the guests of Katoomba, and this will be incorporated with the record of the march.’[2]

I contacted the State Library of New South Wales regarding these records a few months ago, but unfortunately it appears that they were not collected and given to the Mitchell Library, which has no record of receiving them.

It was a commendable proposal, but the majority of the Coo-ees by this time had already left for Egypt in February and early March 1916.

[1] “Presentations to the “Coo-ees”, The Land,  21 January 1916, p.12,

[2] “The Answering Coo-ees”, The Land, 31 March, 1916, p. 12,