Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Wintonswellswithpride; Town Shows off Its Proud War History to Anzac Visitors

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Wintonswellswithpride; Town Shows off Its Proud War History to Anzac Visitors

Article excerpt

Byline: Sherele Moody APN Newsdesk

NOT a lot happens in Winton.

Paddocks lined with sunburnt dust surround the birthplace of Qantas and Banjo Patterson's Waltzing Matilda.

Rusting barbed wire fences fall into disrepair. The livestock they once imprisoned went to the slaughter house months ago.

Better the butcher than a long slow starvation beneath a relentless burning sky where brief falls of rain only bring grief.

Crumbling houses and dead lawns line streets as quiet as a church. A set of railway tracks run through the town like a sad irony. It's been a long time since a passenger train passed through here.

But yesterday, a little miracle broke through as Winton's population of 940 swelled by more than 250.

Elderly war veterans, descendants of those who lost their lives in Gallipoli and in other battle zones, politicians -- including Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, complete with a security detail dressed in black -- and a group of dedicated volunteers and Queensland Rail staff arrived en masse.

The contingent booked out the town's 130 hotel rooms, bringing at least $30,000 into the economy.

They lined Elderslie St to hear Mr Truss speak about Australia's Great War sacrifices before silently viewing the town's "More than a Name" First World War exhibit.

A few hours later they gathered in the town hall for a gala dinner.

Today, they will leave the town on board a nine-carriage steam train that will wind its way across central Queensland re-enacting the journey of thousands of soldiers bound for Gallipoli and the Western Front.

Winton hotelier Ben Lanyon said the influx to his town yesterday was a massive boost for the local economy.

"An event like this is huge," The North Gregory Hotel general manager said. "It has a flow-on effect all the way through for all of our businesses."

Few of the 550 Winton men who enlisted in the First World War came home. …

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