Transcription of an extract from an article titled ‘The Route March : Through the Mountains’ in The Farmer and Settler, 9 November, 1915, p. 3 [1 of 3]
[N.B. Includes a further description of Day 26, Thursday, 4 November, 1915, at Katoomba]
‘THE ROUTE MARCH
Through the Mountains
THE COLUMN REVIEWED BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL.
The Great Western Route march has crossed the range, and is now swinging down the slopes towards the foothills and the city — whose lights can be seen glowing at night like the haze above a furnace.
The first of the chain of Blue Mountain towns, Mount Victoria, welcomed the “Coo-ees” right royally on Thursday, and for the men it must be said that they looked worthy of their reception, as hard and wiry a force of soldiers in the raw as any officer could desire to com- mand; and feeling as well as looking more soldierly than they had done, with their new uniform- dungarees and white hats — the recruits’ dress of the training camps. The march into town was followed by the official welcome at the flag- staff — where a special flag was unfurled; then in the afternoon Captain Eade put the men through a stiff two hours’ course of drill; and at night there was a camp concert, with recruiting speeches.
The column marched out of Mount Victoria at nine o’clock on Friday morning, and covered the four miles to Blackheath in less than an hour. Half a mile out the Metropolitan Schools’ Military Band met the contingent, and played it into the town, where a triumphal arch had been erected in honor of the occasion. The best feature of the Blackheath welcome was the presence of a guard of honor of returned soldiers from Anzac and Rabaul, under Col. Paton.
After the president of the local progress association had formally welcomed the troops, Captain Hitchen performed the ceremony of “breaking the flag” at the home of Mr. W. R. Tully. Then the procession; headed, by the school children, moved on to the Blackheath Hall, where a substantial meal, prepared by the district ladies, was enjoyed to the full. Here two recruits joined amid the cheers of the public, and the still lustier cheers of the “Coo-ees.”
Next stop, Medlow! But a very short stop it was, as the time was limited. Cool drinks were served, cheers were given, and the column passed on. The march to Katoomba was a rather trying one, as bush fires were raging and the road was overhung with a pall of dense smoke.
Arrived at the Explorers’ Tree, the contingent found a detachment of the 41st Regiment drawn up to meet them, also the members of the rifle clubs, the cadets, boy scouts, and school children, with scores of motor cars and other vehicles, and a striking tableau representing the Allies. A speech of welcome was made by Ald. Brierley, Mayor of Katoomba, and then the procession, a mile long, traversed the principal thoroughfare to the skating rink, the route being thronged with thousands of cheering citizens. Katoomba gave the lads great entertainment, three solid meals, free baths, free picture shows, free socks, and free everything else to add to their comfort. At the Katoomba theatre in the afternoon, the mayor presented a local recruit. Pte. Perkins, with a wristlet watch, subscribed by the Boys’ Association. At night the public reception was turned as usual into a recruiting meeting, and five men signed on.’
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