Mid West and Gascoyne communities honour the fallen at ANZAC Day dawn services
Fires, floods, a pandemic and a cyclone — the Mid West has been through a lot since last year’s Anzac Day services were cancelled.
Through it all, WA’s emergency service crews have donned PPE, cleaned up rubble and helped people find shelter.
According to regional voices, a refreshed sense of appreciation set the tone at this year’s dawn services, gunfire breakfasts and Anzac marches.
Carnarvon RSL president Bruno Bacci said the town’s events drew the biggest crowd he had seen in a long time, recording 120 people at breakfast who enjoyed music from the Carnarvon Choir, Community College Band and the presence of the ADF Pilbara regiment.
In Mullewa, ADF army reservist and doctor Nalini Rao said marching in the town’s celebration was a “privilege and honour”.
“It was one of the best we’ve had,” she said.
Meekatharra held a service at Paddy’s Flats Veteran’s Accommodation Centre, with the site’s owner and retired ADF sergeant Chris Atkin and the local police force front and centre in the ceremony.
Perenjori hosted a morning service at the local war memorial and the cyclone-damaged Perenjori Hotel opened for the first time in almost two weeks for its annual Anzac Day bash on Sunday.
The pub is still without power but generators kept the lights on at the bar, with punters also enjoying live music, delicious food, free camping, and a chance to catch up after a tough couple of weeks.
The Perth lockdown overshadowed some of the controversies that stirred in Geraldton after the local government decided to hold the service at Wonthella Oval rather than Birdwood House, as is tradition, to help make COVID-19 compliance easier.
At the service, RSL president Barry Stinson said: “We should all take time to think of our brothers and sisters in Perth who, for a second year, are unable to commemorate Anzac Day at a service”.
However, at least one veteran boycotted the Geraldton service. His great-niece, Kyria Lumley, said her uncle attended at least one Anzac Day ceremony each year without fail.
“Uncle used to go to every day service and dawn service, but as he has got older, he usually goes to the day one,” she said.
Just a few weeks after cyclone Seroja ripped through Northampton and Kalbarri, both communities were able to hold well-attended and impactful services.
While both celebrations were widely labelled healing displays of gratitude and community spirit, controversy swelled around an ADF decision to ban servicemen and women working on the ground in Kalbarri from taking part in a march due to a uniform issue.
RSL representative Alex Hack slammed the decision as “disgraceful”, while the member for North West Central Vince Catania labelled it a case of “bureaucracy gone mad”.
He said Kalbarri locals would have relished the chance to say a formal “thank you” to ADF personnel, who had been instrumental in the town’s clean-up.
Not to forget about the other half of the Anzac legend, local Kiwi ex-pat Spencer Greaves performed an impromptu Haka performance at the end of the Kalbarri dawn service.
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