His­toric tra­di­tions con­tinue

Mem­ory walk in Capella

Central Queensland News - - NEWS - DIS­COVER YOUR BACK­YARD PETER GRIGG CHDC tourism de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer

THE town of Capella, al­though con­sid­ered small, is big on his­tory and a num­ber of ma­jor sig­nif­i­cant events hap­pened in that small town that have had an enor­mous na­tional im­pact.

The orig­i­nal site of the Great Shear­ers’ Strike in 1891 was at­trib­uted to lo­cal prop­erty Lo­gan Downs, lo­cated on the east­ern side of Peak Range.

Shear­ers, fed up with the frus­tra­tions of a cut in pay, the con­di­tions in which they worked, low wool prices and an eco­nomic de­pres­sion, went on strike, an ac­tion that quickly spread across the Peak Downs and then into Queens­land’s vast wool-grow­ing re­gions.

The Queens­land govern­ment of the time re­sponded by bring­ing mounted in­fantry units into the re­gion to pro­tect wool sheds, govern­ment in­fra­struc­ture and non-union shear­ers and shed hands, com­monly re­ferred to as “scabs”.

Leg­end has it a mounted in­fantry unit dis­patched to the Peak Downs re­gion to guard a gang of non-union shear­ers shot an emu along Capella Creek.

A num­ber of the troop­ers placed the feathers of the de­parted emu in the band of their hats.

Other mounted troop­ers soon fol­lowed and emu plumes started to adorn the hat bands of other mounted in­fantry units.

By 1897 all mounted Queens­land units wore the emu plume as part of the of­fi­cial uni­form and it was this mounted in­fantry unit that be­came part of the Aus­tralian Light Horse Bri­gade.

The plume that had orig­i­nally been a bat­tle hon­our of the Queens­land mounted in­fantry for their work in the shear­ers’ strike of 1891 had been adopted by al­most all the Light Horse reg­i­ments.

This plume had be­come the proud badge of the light horse­man and a recog­nised mark of the tenac­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Aus­tralian mounted in­fantry.

Arabs re­ferred to light horse­men as the “the Kings of the Feathers”.

Every­thing the Light Horse trooper needed for liv­ing and fighting had to be car­ried by him and his horse.

His ex­tra cloth­ing, food and per­sonal pos­ses­sions were in a can­vas haver­sack car­ried over the shoul­der.

He car­ried 10 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion in the .303 ri­fle slung over his shoul­der and an­other 50 rounds in pouches on his belt, which also sup­ported the bay­o­net and scab­bard.

The horses, re­ferred to as “walers”, were pur­posely bred for stamina and en­durance and had to have the tem­per­a­ment to be able to per­se­vere while in the dire cir­cum­stances of a war.

To­day emu plumes are still a sig­nif­i­cant adorn­ment to the cer­e­mo­nial uni­forms of units of the Aus­tralian Army, worn proudly and recog­nised as a badge of hon­our.

To walk in si­lence along the Capella Park­lands in the midst of the lit-up ar­ray of sculp­tures com­mem­o­rat­ing the Aus­tralian Light Horse and to hon­our the lo­cals who sac­ri­ficed all is in­deed an in­spi­ra­tional and emo­tional stroll.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

MEM­ORY WALK: Part of the Light Horse dio­rama in the Capella Park­lands.

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