a day out in the north east
For the first time ever, racing was held at Mansfield on Easter Monday this year. There were many in attendance ( left) enjoying a day of competitive action and high fashion. It was all about good food and fine wine in the King Valley on the Queen’s Birthday weekend ( below), where locals and visitors soaked up the party atmosphere at venues including Pizzini Wines.
“Between October 1899 and May 1900, British Empire troops were under siege in the South African town of Mafeking and when the siege lifted on May 17, there was an outpouring of patriotic fervour and joy throughout British colonies. Bright was no exception and as part of the celebrations, the Bright Shire Council approved a proposal by the Bright Patriotic Committee to plant a Giant Redwood in the square outside the Alpine Hotel.”
The tree was planted on July 28, 1900 during a large ceremony and from that date the space was known as Mafeking Square. The square quickly became the focal point for displays of patriotic sentiment and commemoration, and while the fate of that first tree is unknown, other tree plantings followed. In 1917, the Bright Patriotic Committee, in planning celebrations for Empire Day, decided they would plant three Australian trees.
“The shire president G.R. Abraham also announced that he would donate a slate slab suitable for a plaque in memory of fallen heroes,” Mr Black said.
“Empire Day was marked and in a speech, G.R. Abraham proposed to eventually make the square not only a war tribute but a picture and ornament to the town.”
In the ensuing years and after the clock tower was built only minor works took place in Mafeking Square. Among the changes, the clock tower was painted to improve its appearance while lawn was planted to create a village green before being removed in the late 1990s to make way for paving. Some 100 years after G.R. Abraham expressed his vision, Alpine Shire Council delivered a $1.5 million redevelopment of Mafeking Square and the surrounding streetscape as one of its Alpine Better Places projects. Work commenced on January 30, 2017 and was completed by Anzac Day with a re-dedication ceremony being held on May 25 - the 100th anniversary of G.R Abraham’s statement. Stone cobbles and large format paving replaced old tiles, wooden seating on three edges now opens on to the clock tower while garden beds feature trees and plants including rosemary - a symbol of remembrance. Audio infrastructure was also added and is used during Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies. The RSL was heavily involved in the design and implementation process and Mr Black believes the wishes expressed by the shire president in 1917 were achieved.
“Mafeking Square and the clock tower is now a ceremonial and contemplative space, but also a space that can be enjoyed by the community and visitors alike as a gathering and resting place,” he said.
“As it stands now, Mafeking Square is probably as good a memorial as you would find anywhere and is a fitting tribute to those Australians who served or fell for our country.”
Like G.R Abraham before him, Mr Black has a vision to add to Bright’s main war memorial and would one day love to see Anderson Street - one of the main entrances into Mafeking Square - redeveloped.
“It could make a really good ceremonial entrance to the town and if done well I suspect that our Anzac Day march would be coming up Anderson Street rather than down Ireland Street,” he said.
“That’s one for the future, maybe it will be Alpine Better Places 2.0.”
COMMEMORATION / Mafeking Square was redeveloped in 2017 and audio infrastructure is now used during Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies.