On 17 August 1935 The Sydney Morning Herald noted the existence of a memorial to men who had served in World War One from Walhallow Aboriginal Station. Walhallow is at Caroona 20 miles west of Quirindi New South Wales. The article was titled THE GATE OF MEMORY. Raised by Coloured Folk and read in part
It is at the gateway to the school that we find the “Gate of Memory,” This, the first of its kind in Australia, was unveiled early this year. On the tablet inserted in the wall is the following:
This tablet was erected in honour of those men resident on this station, who served abroad with the A.I.F. during the Great War, 1914-1918. This Gate of Memory was built by the aboriginals on the station, and on Anzac Day a special service was held.
Although the reporter stated that the memorial gate was the first of its kind, was it in fact the first memorial to Aboriginal soldiers of the First World War?
While it may be the earliest memorial, it is possible that other missions also had memorials dating from the immediate post war period. Identifying memorials to Aboriginal WW1 soldiers in the years before WW 2 would contribute to the understanding of war remembrance within Aboriginal communities, something denied them by a nation whose monuments in country towns and cities demonstrate the nation’s preoccupation with WW1 remembrance but in many cases omit Aboriginal soldiers.
Perhaps a study of early Aboriginal memorials has already been made. If not, why not – and why not now ?
Philippa Scarlett 11 January 2013