Date posted: July 21, 2016
In January 1916 a group of 114 men left the New South Wales country town of Inverell to fight in World War I. The group was named “The Kurrajongs”, taking the name of the hardy evergreen Australian tree.
The Kurrajongs march (which was actually a train journey!) was one of a number of “snowball” recruitment marches fashioned on the famous Coo-ee recruiting march of 1915. The aim of these marches was to attract volunteers, starting with a nucleus of men and growing as the group travelled through the towns along their route.
After visiting the neighbouring towns of Warialda and Moree, the Kurrajongs, now 150 men strong, detrained at the Army Depot camp in Narrabri. Most of the men subsequently enlisted in the 33rd Battalion AIF being raised at Armidale NSW at the time.
This is the subject of our next talk at the museum on Saturday, 6th August at 2:00 p.m.
Ian Small’s book, The Kurrajongs, is not a knock-’em-down, drag-’em-out war story. It follows 10 “ordinary” men on their journey through country New South Wales, into camp at Armidale and through initial training. You sail with the 10 as they cross the oceans to England, camp at Lark Hill near Stonehenge and visit London. In November 1916 you cross the English Channel and arrive in northern France just in time to encounter the coldest winter in 40 years. Join the men in the tranches and in their great battles . . . Messines, Passchendaele, Hangard, Villers-Bretonneux. What happens on “The Black Day? How many of the 10 return to Australia at war’s end, and what awaits them? How has the war changed those who came home?
Ian’s story of The Kurrajongs unfolds in the modern day through the memories of a very old man as he sits with his granddaughter and great-grandson reflecting upon a long, adventure-filled life. Two stories are intertwined through his book . . . a “modern” story and the old man’s life story.
The Kurrajongs is historically accurate and faithfully follows the journey of The Kurrajongs and the exploits of the 33rd Battalion AIF. The characters, however, are fictitious.