ANZAC Day @ ‘Tinagroo’
Featured image: The ‘march past’ in the gardens @ Tinagroo by the Cardiff RSL Pipe Band; Ken Smith is banging the big drum. Sarah and I were married under the tree on the lawn behind the band and the ‘Marching Koalas’ on 26th April 1975. This is of course the day after ANZAC Day. One of the band from the Cardiff RSL team stayed behind one extra day to star as the ‘Lone Piper’ at our wedding.
The younger ‘kilted’ acolytes are Kirsty Howey, Hugh Howey (‘products’ of above), Scott Davies and Henry Davies. The year was roughly 1982?
The ANZAC tradition was rigidly observed and richly enhanced every year at ‘Tinagroo’ homestead. Owner/grazier Bob Mackay was patron of the band while Murray Bain was the equivalent titular head of the City of Newcastle Pipe Band. It was the tradition then for the visiting band to assemble on ANZAC eve at the Scone RSL Club where they were all billeted for the night. It was a risky plan! An early start was made for the 6:00am dawn service at the Lone Pine cenotaph. Squealing pipes and pounding drums were no help to acute, per-acute and chronic hangovers! The Gundy Service and March were next on the agenda at 9:00am when breakfast was served for the stoical champions with staunch resilience. The Scone Service and March to the War Memorial in Kelly Street was timed for mid-morning by which time some tongues were hanging out! The rest of the day was given over to assembly @ Tinagroo homestead where the hospitality was traditionally lavish. Ponty Mackay always managed to produce a quality meal of gigantic proportions. It was great day out for the gourmands as well as the gourmets! Athol Brose and Triple Malt Scotch assuaged the palate of the ‘true believers’. By late evening everyone was happy when the designated drivers took over for the long haul back to Newcastle. On one infamous occasion ‘Black Douglas’ failed to make it ‘over and out’ of Thompson’s Creek!
Like many such noble traditions this seminal event died with the inexorable passage of time and the demise of the principal players; on both sides. ANZAC Day @ Tinagroo is consigned to the realms of history together with its prime protagonists. We are that much poorer for their passing.