Australian military forces were actively involved in World War 1 from its commencement in 1914 until its end in 1918. Men from all walks of life volunteered for service and there were a number of initiatives in place to encourage that recruitment.
One such initiative became known as the Kangaroo March. The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, records that the recruiting march, named the Kangaroo March, started in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales in December 1915 and gathered potential enlistees along the way to Sydney, a distance of 350 miles. Groups of recruits joined the march from Narrandera, Tumut and Young, all towns along the way to Sydney. To retain the march’s country character, no recruits were taken on after Campbelltown, a town on the outskirts of the City of Sydney.
Although there were other recruiting marches around the State, the Kangaroo march was the longest of them all.
The Museum records state that the military authorities attempted to stop the march here in Goulburn, intending that they should enter camp for training, but the march continued on to Sydney. The marchers staged a strike in Goulburn and again in Sydney over leave, both strikes led by Australian Workers Union members who had been recruited at Galong and Goondah, other small towns along the route.
Many of the Kangaroos were allotted to the 55th Battalion, which arrived in France in 1916.
One of the Kangaroos, John Ryan of Tumult, was to receive the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest award for bravery. Other awards to marchers arising from their combat experiences included two Distinguished Conduct Medals and 7 Military Medals. The following image, taken from the Australian War Memorial archives shows some of the Kangaroos marching towards Sydney in December, 2015.
The re-enactment marchers paraded along Auburn Street, Goulburn on the morning of Saturday 26th September, 2015. The salute was taken by the Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency, The Honourable General David Hurley, AC, DSC, the former Australian Defence Force chief.
Arrival of the Kangaroo marchers coincided with Goulburn’s SpyFest festival weekend with George Lazenby, a James Bond movie star as the ‘star’ attraction. As a consequence, with both the SpyFest and Kangaroo march parades along Auburn Street only an hour apart, the parade route was teeming with people wanting to catch a glimpse of Lazenby, an old Goulburn Boy, travelling in a vintage Aston Martin car, and the Kangaroo marchers.
I made a number of images of the Kangaroo parade and I confess I found it to be considerably more interesting than the SpyFest parade a short time afterwards. The highlight of the SpyFest parade, apart from the presence of Lazenby, was the seemingly never ending parade of vintage and current Aston Martin sedans and convertibles.
In fact, I only made three images of the SpyFest parade compared to well over a hundred at the Kangaroo re-enactment.
The following images are a selection from the Kangaroo march parade. The inclement weather didn’t deter the crowd and the rain erased for both the Kangaroo and SpyFest parades.