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Stories from the Hamilton Highway

8. Signs of War.

Australia is blessed to live in a time of peace, but from the Hamilton Highway can be seen many signs of World War 2.

The most obvious signs are the statue of a soldier, a field gun or a stone pillar in the centre of each town. There is generally a community gathering at these places on Anzac day each year, and the tradition is well supported.

Many towns such as Mortlake and Lismore have an Honour Avenue
of trees, and most have an Honour Board in the local hall or school
listing those who did not return.

Before the war large pastoral properties covered most of the western
plains. The Soldier Settlement Commission bought many of these and
sold them as 66o acre (250ha) blocks on good terms to returned
soldiers. The Korean war of the 1950s caused wool prices to rise
enough that these new farmers and their families made a reasonable living. About half the farms along the highway are amalgamations of
these farms, and are often still run by descendants of those soldiers.

Recently there has been a program to place a memorial stone at each settlement with a map showing the blocks of the original osldiers.
There is one outside the hall at Darlington.

Details are at Soldier Settlement Blocks of WW1 and WW2.

As most of the male population was at war many females came from towns to work on farms as "Land Army Girls". Lismore still has several modest purpose built houses for the girls who worked at the flax mill.

Monument Terrinallum
This building was to process the flax into military webbing and linen for the war effort. The skeleton still stands to the south of town.None of these girls survive but their descendants are scattered throughout the district.

A major airfield just to the east of Cressy is another remnant of the war effort. This was used to train RAAF pilots, navigators, bombers and gunners in a range of aircraft. Nothing remains but the concrete slabs of the buildings, the large airstrip and some photographs with the local history group.

Author: © Chris Lang 2015


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