On another day we went to the Tolga Railway Museum. The building was the old railway station so quite small but it was packed with the usual stuff but also with items I had never seen before. It is fun to have a look at an item then try and figure out what it is before reading the information on it.
Being a farming community the museum was packed with items connected to that industry.
With a large area of the museum dedicated to items connected to WWII.
We talked with the volunteer staff member and he told us they were hoping to build a new building to house all the military items they had. They had many more items they just didn’t have room for. Like most things they were waiting for the money. Interestingly the Army had given them a WWII building to use still in its crates never used, ready to be assembled.
We talked to him for about half an hour. He was very enthusiastic in telling us about the troops stationed in the area. We knew there were a lot but didn’t realise just how many. There were just over 250,000 Americans and over 100,000 Australian troops along with a scattering of others from different countries. Then there were the nurses and doctors (many of the troops had been evacuated to Australia to recover from wounds.) There were also the non-military people. The people who did everything else that keeps such a large group fed and watered.
The museum has a lot of files on where different regiments were housed. If you can give the volunteers some information on your family members they may be able to tell you just where they were camped. Our volunteer, (sadly I can’t remember his name) told us they get a lot of people from America looking for where their fathers, grandfathers or uncles were camped.
As we had been driving around the tablelands we had noticed the military signs. It all started to make sense now.
Where we were staying had been assigned to the Rocky Creek Medical Unit. Now the area has been divided off into two sections. One being for a bush camp and the other section has been turned into a Memorial Park. After visiting the museum we took more of an interest in the Rocky Creek War memorial Park.
Information boards showed some photos of the camp and told the stories of individuals. There was a lot of information we didn’t understand as it was about troop deployment. I guess if you were looking for where you family member was stationed it would have made sense to you.
The area was once the location of the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site and there were signs telling use where buildings long gone once sat.
Over 100 plaques have been added to the park. Each one dedicated to different divisions stationed in the area or to a special group of people who cared for them. Each plaque was a reminder of the valiant efforts of the troops and the civilian personnel.
Each plaque has been mounted on a granite rock from a local quarry and the Atherton Shire and local voluntaries maintain the park. It was interesting to read the different groups on the plaques.
Across the road from our campsite was an old WWII musical hall, which was built to entertain the troops. Our museum guide told us to go have a look. Volunteers are slowly restoring it, (again only when the money was available.) He wasn’t sure what they would do with it when it was all completed. He told us it didn’t really matter. “It is our history, it is our legacy,” he said. We took a walk around the building. It needed a lot of work. After the war the army sold the building. The new owners had saved their War Bonds to purchase a house but jumped at the hall when it came up for sale. The theatre stage and back stage areas were converted into living spaces by using timbers originally used for backdrops and stage props. The owner Mrs Frazer donated the hall to the Atherton Shire in 1996 after here husband passed on.
It would have been nice to have a look inside but the best we could do was to peek in though a crack in one of the doors. We had seen what it would have looked like, as there was a model in the museum.
We stopped at Mareeba to fill our water tanks up. Just after the information centre there is a park and on the inside road are two taps especially for Rver’s. Sometime it isn’t always easy finding water so to have it set out for us makes a big difference, thank you Mareeba.