The Kurrajongs

Early on the morning of 12 January 1916, Inverell witnessed a great day in its young history. A huge crowd assembled in the streets to farewell Inverell’s first contingent of The Kurrajongs. This group of 114 men was one of ten snowball recruiting marches held in NSW to encourage enlistment. At the time, these men were the largest group to leave a country town together for War Service.

Wearing white hats, the men marched from near the corner of Rivers and Otho Streets, to the Town Hall for the official farewell by the Mayor. The huge procession then proceeded down to Byron Street and on to the railway station, passing shops closed for the occasion. Banners were held high by the volunteers. Thousands of people, including women and children in white dresses with shady hats, stood in the streets as bands led the way.

At the railway station the train had been decorated with Kurrajong leaves and flags for the occasion. A special train had been arranged to take them to the Narrabri camp. Along the way the train stopped overnight at Warialda and Moree where further rallies were held and more recruits joined the Kurrajongs.

Further volunteers followed during the next two months including nineteen men on 1 February and fifty men who made up the second contingent of The Kurrajongs on 29 February 1916.  Many of these men became part of the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Battalions of the 3rd Division of the AIF. Their story has been told in the book A fine body of men: Inverell Remembers the Kurrajongs 1916.

It is likely that at this time the intensive recruiting campaign and departure of the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs would have influenced enlistment throughout the district.