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Anzac Day – ‘for God, King & Empire’

Tunnelling through the night, the trains pass
in a splendour of power, with a sound like thunder
shaking the orchards, waking
the young from a dream, scattering like glass
the old men's sleep; laying
a black trail over the still bloom of the orchards.
The trains go north with guns.
-- Judith Wright
Australian flag flying after dawn service for Anzacs 2020. It could be anywhere in suburban Australia.

In my street in Camp Hill, I witnessed the Anzac dawn service under restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic. Young kids played the last post on trombone and tuber while grandparents held candles as first light came up our street. It could have been any suburban street in Australia.

Neighbours and their friends had their own candles lit and an Australian flag flies outside the house opposite. No doubt, lives lost at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, France, slavery on the Thai-Burma railway in the second war, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan was on their minds.

But what of the first imperialist war here on our own shores? The land was taken from aboriginal people by the British, many of them our ancestors. We could not fly the flag in unity with my neighbour’s ceremony this Anzac day. We hope their children learn more of the Frontier Wars that made their life here possible.

Why?

Boe Spearim is right … my ancestors were involved in a brutal war against aboriginal people in this country. One of my ancestors, Montague Curr, murdered five aboriginal people near Kamileroi station on the Gilbert River up in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Another, Edward Curr, a magistrate and agent for the Van Diemen’s Land Company, talked down the numbers of aboriginal people massacred at Cape Grim in North-West Van Diemen’s land on 10 February 1828.

Curr said there were only three people killed when the number was closer to thirty including women and children.

How do I know? Because I have studied my family history, gone down there and found out for myself.

There can be no reconciliation without justice!

Ian Curr
26 April 2020

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