‘New’ Aussie Day tradition ramping up in Ipswich
ARMED with Australian flags, a throng of volunteers dispersed across Ipswich cemeteries early Tuesday morning to remember fallen defence and service personnel.
Organisers Donna Cavanagh and Oggy Smith rounded up volunteers to place flags at the headstones of those of the Australian Defence Force, Ambulance Service and Police Service.
Drawing more than 60 people, the occasion has tripled since it launched last year, an exciting sign for Donna and Oggy, who first engaged in the ritual when they lived in Sydney.
The ADF relocated the pair to Ipswich in 2017 and, noticing there was nothing similar in Ipswich, decided to start something from the ground up.
"We did it in Sydney with a full military service and guest speakers but realised nowhere in Queensland did," Donna said.
"These guys put their lives on the line for us - the police, the fireys, the ambos, the ADF - and it's important to honour them and their families.
"Letting their families come out and see the flags and that their loved ones have not been forgotten."
Oggy, who served in the ADF for 42 years, said the turnout was great.
"It's cool not only because we have quite a combination of ex-defence here today but we have a lot of community-minded people," he said.
"There are a lot of people who heard about it through ads and half a dozen of our friends who otherwise don't have a defence link at all have come along."
Last year, the group only had 600 flags but, thanks to a donation from Club Services Ipswich, were able to plant 1560 for round two.
"We walk up and down each aisle and you've actually got to look at each grave, looking for the symbols - but sometimes there are words without the symbol," Donna said.
Donna said January 26 was a chance to pay respects beyond the bounds of Anzac Day.
"We honour all emergency services on Australia Day - it's a big massive day," she said.
"We honour all who have sacrificed for us so we can live and breathe and move forward and we learn from what they've sacrificed."
Donna and Oggy are eager for the tradition to catch on across the state.
"If someone wants to co-ordinate it in different areas, we're quite happy to have a conversation with them and explain how it's done," Donna said.
For more information, contact Donna on 0413457867.
Read more news by Ebony Graveur.