a day out in the north east

North East Living Magazine - - History Set In Stone - photos Jar­rah Loh / Mel Guy

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.

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