We've had some pretty wild weather lately and travelling home through some heavy downpours, we decided to take time out in the town of Yass in southern NSW. It was a great opportunity to seek out a story. We headed first to the Tourist Centre, had a bit of a walk around town and then hunkered down in the local library for a while. Here's the story we discovered.
I remember being gripped when I first read Trooper Ion Idriess’ first hand accounts of the Light Horse in the Sinai desert in World War One. You can feel the breath of bullets sheering the emu feathers from his slouch hat as he and his mates galloped away under the rifle fire of the Turks. It was stirring stuff for a young bloke to absorb!
But there were mentions of something intriguing that happened to those young Australians on the long draining rides between battles. The hooves of their horses were kicking up the centuries of dust that covered adventures recorded in the Bible – in a very real sense they felt they were riding with the ghosts of Moses, Joshua and Caleb. The chaplains alongside the men became the storytellers bringing that history to life. Events that had remained locked inside a leather-bound book with gold-edging that belonged in church, suddenly became real.
Idriess told a very Australian story that happened when, led by amateur archaeologist Padre Maitland-Woods, the troopers carefully dug up the mosaic floor of an ancient church to ship back to Australia as a prize of war! The padre enthusiastically reported to the Army Records Division they’d also found the bones of a saint and got a request back asking for Trooper A. Saint’s dog tag as they had no record of him!
The Shellal mosaic is on display in the War Memorial in Canberra. It contains Jesus’ words ‘I am the True Vine’. I like to think of it as a tribute to the chaplains who brought the life of the True Vine to the young ANZAC’s. Chaplain David Garland was one of them and this is his story.
When Australian scientist Professor Graeme Clark, the inventor of what’s known as the bionic ear, was asked what he’d learned on his long journey of discovery, he quoted Winston Churchill’s words, ‘Never, never, never give up!’
It’s 1945, in the days when Camden was a rural area on the fringe of Sydney. Picture a young boy in the town pharmacy, watching his father’s daily struggle to communicate with his customers because of severe deafness. That image helps explain why, when the local Methodist minister asked ten-year-old Graeme Clark what he wanted to be when he grew up, he replied ‘an ear doctor’.
READ MORE below.
He’s been dubbed ‘the historian of the Australian Soul.’ Walking the streets of the Rocks area with Professor Stuart Piggin, poking down alleys full of history, READ MORE...
It's been a busy couple of months!
In February something dawned on me listening to John Dixon in St Phillip's church in Sydney reviving the moment when words from the Bible were read out on Australian soil for the very first time. READ MORE...
It was a raucous bush poetry night at the North Bourke pub on the banks of the Darling. ‘This one’s for you Roey’, Mal shouted... READ MORE
An easy home-leg to complete the 1200km circuit. Quiet reflection, murmured conversation, a pause in the windmill town of Gilgandra - the starting point for the Co-ee Recruitment March of 1915. OJ Rushton told of organising the 500 km Kangaroo March in 2018 from Wagga to Sydney, which roused Australians to READ MORE...
Bruce Feiler, a man who took a recent pilgrimage across the Middle East in the steps of Abraham, said the big thing that happened to him on his quest was that ‘my learning went from my head to my feet...the big transformation was being on the land...and finding the story in the geography itself.’ That’s precisely what was happening to READ MORE..
The pilgrimage took on the nature of a sentimental journey today. Actually, it started the night before when Colin Buchanan took time to talk to Russell and Robert’s grandchildren live on their phones. Distance shrank and two grandfathers shed tears of joy - the ink READ MORE...
Out past the old North Bourke Bridge Jen Greentree’s gallery opened the eyes of our pilgrims to the moods and colours of the Outback. She paints stories of hope in ochres and blues, to defy the thinking that this is God-forsaken country. Later in the day they saw READ MORE...
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.