The ANZAC story through local eyes. How did it come together?
Since the opening of Stage 1 of the project in 2015, the memorial has attracted many people to Emu Park to visit the memorial. The word quickly spread to veterans and grey nomads through the “bush telegraph” that the memorial at Emu Park was a “must see”. While visiting the memorial, many also called into the RSL.
Most are impressed with the standard of the memorial and the most common questions relate to the memorial’s history. Many are surprised that a “small town like Emu Park could achieve such an amazing outcome”.
It is hoped that this document will answer most of these questions.
In response to the Australian Government’s announcement of the planned Centenary of ANZAC Commemorations throughout Australia in 2014 – 2018, the Emu Park RSL Sub Branch, at a meeting held in early 2011, discussed what the Sub Branch could do to mark and commemorate the event.
As a result of these discussions, long-standing resident of Emu Park, and a member of the local RSL Sub-Branch and the Lions Club, Ross Coulter, designed an ambitious concept plan for the transformation of the Emu Park headland and foreshore in the vicinity of the RSL Memorial Hall and the Singing Ship into an ANZAC Precinct. The Emu Park RSL Sub-Branch members were so impressed with the concept plan that they adopted the concept in principle as the Sub Branch’s proposed Centenary of ANZAC Project.
At that time, the proposed project envisaged the creation of an ANZAC Commemorative Precinct that would feature integrated street-scaping, rotundas, parkland enhancement and an interpretative “memorial walkway” around the Emu Park foreshore and headland. The project was to be designed to complement the existing RSL Memorial Hall, Cenotaph and Wall of Remembrance and provide a focal point for the local Emu Park Community ANZAC and Remembrance Day services each year.
Ross Coulter, together with the Sub Branch President, Barry Vains, made a presentation to the Rockhampton Regional Council on 1 November 2011 and received a positive response from the councillors. Tragically, Ross passed away days after he made the presentation.
After Ross’ death, the Sub Branch promoted the project to local, state, and federal government politicians and along the way were supported by members of the Capricorn Coast community, local organisations and businesses including local Rockhampton Regional Council councillors, the Emu Park Lions Club, the Emu Park Bendigo Community Bank, and property developer Homecorp Group Pty Ltd.
In November 2012, due to the efforts of local Rockhampton Regional Council councillor, Tom Wyatt, the Council resolved to provide in principle support for the project through the development of concept designs and cost estimates to facilitate the raising of funds.
In July 2013, a Steering Committee, consisting of members representing local councillors of the Rockhampton Regional Council, State and Federal members of Parliament, the Emu Park Bendigo Community Bank, Homecorp Group Pty Ltd, the Emu Park RSL Sub-Branch, the Emu Park Lions Club and the community was established to progress the proposed project.
In early 2013, the Capricorn Coast region voted to de-amalgamate from the Rockhampton Regional Council and in effect, the area did not have a local government body until the Livingstone Shire council was reconstituted on 1 January 2014.
The newly re-constituted Livingstone Shire Council then formally endorsed the project with “Major Project” status and committed to complete the project over the next three-year period subject to the availability of funding.
The Council also endorsed Ross Coulter’s concept plan and then engaged consultants to develop a Master Plan for the project.
Landscape architects, Alderson & Associates with artist/town planner, Bill Gannon, prepared imaginative layouts. Soon after civil engineers, Noel Gardner & Associates joined the team. The schedule would be a staged transformation of a forgotten, run-down coastal strip into a memorial of national significance.
The Council then adopted Stage 1 of the project as a Centenary of ANZAC project for the Livingstone Shire Council and committed to constructing Stage 1 of the project in time for the Centenary of ANZAC commemorations to be held in April 2015.
Stage 1 of the project included the construction of ANZAC Court and a monument dedicated to the original ANZACs who fought and died at Gallipoli, on the Western Front and in Palestine during World War 1, and a Memorial Walk, which included a path and a boardwalk, out of ANZAC Court up the hill through the scenic Emu Park foreshore to the headland. The paths met stringent access grades for all person entry.
Centenary of ANZAC Commemorations
After being approached by the Emu Park and Yeppoon RSL Sub Branches, the Livingstone Shire Council agreed to facilitate a week of commemorations for the Shire in the lead up to the 100 Years of ANZAC on ANZAC Day on Saturday 25 April 2015.
The events included the opening of Stage 1 of the project on the previous Saturday afternoon of Saturday 18 April. Further, a Gala Commemorative Dinner was held in the Yeppoon Town Hall on the Saturday evening with World War 2 Rat of Tobruk, Gordon Wallace, as the guest speaker.
Other events included a Church Service, Ross Coulter Art Exhibition, a Yeppoon Military Museum Open Day, and the Lions Club Festival of the Wind with fireworks which was held on the last day, the Sunday following ANZAC Day.
The Council constructed the Gatehouse at the beginning of the boardwalk between April 2015 and April 2016 with the building being officially opened on Saturday 23 April 2016 in time for the commemoration of ANZAC Day 2016.
Artwork in the form of 26 panels depicting the World War 1 timeline and highlighting “portraits” of locals who served during the war were installed inside the building. Many local families contributed letters, postcards, photos, and other records.
Since the opening of Stage 2 of the project, further artwork was added to the project such as the Centenary of the RSL acknowledgement memorial, the battle markers and the soldier and Light Horse trooper images which feature along the boardwalk.
Plans have been drawn up and costed to extend the boardwalk north around the point with steps linking to Peace Park and concrete paths joining Bell Park.
Funding is being pursued with the State and Federal governments for this next stage of the project.
An early estimate of the project costs was $2.6 million.
While a final cost is not known, the cost was around $3.0 million when other related costs such as initial drainage upgrades undertaken by Council from their budgets are taken into account.
Grants and Donations
Grants and donations for the works were received as follows:
State Government 250,000
Emu Park Bendigo Community Bank 190,000
Homecorp Pty Ltd 100,000
RSL Queensland 100,000
RSL Pioneer-Fitzroy Highlands District 50,000
Emu Park RSL Sub Branch 25,000
Emu Park Lions Club 55,000
State Government Tourism Grant 135,650
DVA Armistice Centenary Grant 95,000
North Rockhampton Rotary Club 6,000
Community Donations 40,000
As shown above, $40,000 was donated in varying amounts in accordance with what they could afford by local friends of the project and community members. Local organisations also ran events to raise money for the project.
The Livingstone Shire Council provided the bulk of the project funding and now maintains the memorial precinct.
Emu Park Benefits of the Project
The construction of the Emu Park Centenary of ANZAC Memorial has benefited the Emu Park and Capricorn Coast community in the following ways:
- The project has complemented the existing RSL Memorial Hall, Cenotaph, and Wall of Remembrance at the side of the building and created an ANZAC Precinct as a focal point during the commemoration of ANZAC and Remembrance days each year.
- The project provided a much-needed beautification of the headland and foreshore and provided pedestrian functionally and active recreation for the benefit of tourists and community members.
- The memorial attracts local school visits and is used to assist teachers reinforce the teaching of our ANZAC Heritage and Australian military history.
Before Stage 1 of the project was opened in 2015, the ANZAC Dawn Service at Emu Park attracted around a 1,000 people. In 2015, around five thousand people attended the service and these numbers have continued since.
Best Monument or Memorial
In 2019, the Livingstone Shire Council entered the memorial in the Australian Street Art Awards and it was judged the best monument or memorial.
Thank You and Acknowledgements
The construction of the memorial at Emu Park was a community initiated and supported project that saw the three levels of government work in partnership with their community and deliver this magnificent outcome.
There is a powerful force that comes together when community members, community organisations, local business, local government, and State and Federal members of Parliament, come together in partnership for the betterment of a community.
The Emu Park RSL Sub Branch would like to thank all those people and organisations who supported and contributed to the project, but especially:
- The Livingstone Shire Council and in particular past Mayor Bill Ludwig, Deputy Mayor Graham Scott, and Councillor Tom Wyatt. The extraordinary support from our Council ensured the project came to fruition.
- The late Ross Coulter for his concept and his wife Kate who championed the project.
- The members of the Working Party who gave their time to oversee the project.
- Members of the Memorial Walk Sub-Committee Barry Vains, Mark Edmistone, Noel Brady, and Phil Luzzi for the time they dedicated to working with Project Consultant, Bill Gannon, and Graphic Designer, Michelle Black, in making sure the artwork was of such a high standard. Mark Edmistone undertook thousands of hours of research and chased up many families for material for the artwork. Local artist Noel Brady designed the light interactive tempered glass memorial dedicated to the original ANZACs.
- All those who donated monies to the project mentioned earlier. The Emu Park Bendigo Community Bank were the first to commit monies to the project and this got the ball rolling.