Transcription of an extract from an article titled ‘The Route March : Through Lithgow District’ in The Farmer and Settler, 5 November, 1915, p. 3 [part 3 of 4]
Lithgow turned out in force to see the last of the “Coo-ees,” and each man was given a tri-color ribbon bearing the inscription, “Lithgow, 3/11/15. ‘Coo-ee!’ Good Luck!” as a souvenir of the occasion. Some ladies also attended with a bag of sweets for each man. The Lithgow camp recruits marched out with the Gilgandra column as far as the Cooerwull Academy, where a brief halt was made. The boys of the academy had rigged flags across the road, and they met the march with cheers. The boys also presented the column with a kettledrum.
Lunch was laid at Bowenfells, under the trees opposite the oldest Methodist Church west of the Mountains, Nearby stand an old lock-up and hotel, both dating back to the earliest convict days. There was a surprisingly large assemblage of our friends from Lithgow and other towns further in the Mountains, together with chance tourists that had heard of the approach of the “Coo-ees,” and had come along to see them. Lunch was alfresco, with full and plenty, and it was speedily demolished by the hungry boys, for the walk had been warm and the way hilly.
Only five miles remained for the afternoon’s march, and as the country sloped downwards once more, an hour or two was spent in chatting with the visitors. A little diversion was caused by the discovery that one of the “Coo-ees” had hitherto escaped the barber, and had a fine crop of curly hair. He was quickly captured by his mates, the camp barber was summoned, and the offending locks removed forthwith.
The column made its way into Hartley, headed by a battery of motor-cars, and the road was lined by school children, waving flags. It was strange to see the old courthouse, erected in the early thirties, with all its suggestions of the triangle and leg irons; It was strange to see this old building, the scene of many a convict tragedy, turned into a banquet hall in honor of the boys of the near west, who were going out to battle for the country.
The “Coo-ees” were warmly welcomed by the residents, and afterwards tea was accounted for, and blankets spread under the stars for the night’s bivouac.
Mr. J. McGarry, one of the most enthusiastic workers in entertaining the recruits, is the grandson of old John Mc-Garry, who had the Royal Hotel in the forties. The hotel has been in the hands of the family for three generations, and the place is an excellent example of the architecture of the old colonial days.’
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