Thursday, 4 September 2014

What was it like in Ballarat 100 years ago today?

Ballarat Courier, September 4th, 1914

100 years ago today, the first men from Ballarat to join the Expeditionary Force, left Ballarat amid affecting scenes at Ballarat station.

 Yesterday they had arrived in Ballarat from the training camp at Broadmeadows with about 24 hours leave to spend with family and friends.  But first there was a celebratory dinner for the men at the City Hall – they marched there from the station, along Lydiard St, which was lined with citizens.  The important thing about this article is that it names the men and the companies they are part of.  Once the dinner was over they were dismissed.

What did they do until they paraded again at 6pm on September 4th at the railway station?  How did they spend the last day in Ballarat?  All we can know for sure is that the scenes at the railway station, as the men were boarding the train, were unprecedented.  They paraded where we park our cars now. The gates to the station were guarded, but the crowds just rushed onto the platform, any way but by the gates.  The band was playing “Auld Lang Syne”.  It must have been very exciting and overwhelming, but the Courier reports the “stern reality” of the war. 

If you would like to read the whole article on Trove follow this link If you would like to read the article in the “real thing”, our hard copy Courier on display in the Australiana Room at Ballarat Library, just ask the staff to turn the pages for you.

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