In April, for the second year in a row, Rural Media SA staged a special luncheon meeting at the Adelaide Showground with an Anzac theme.
The guest speaker was Kangaroo Island resident Pat Brooksby, chairperson of the Parndana Museum committee who spoke on 'A Motley Bunch', the Kangaroo Island Soldier Settler Scheme.
Both Pat and her husband Geoff are children of soldier settlers, Pat being born on the mainland in the Mallee in 1947, and taken to KI by her parents at the ripe age of two years.
She thrived in the Parndana East Camp where other post war children ran wild, with her father being part of a team of men clearing land in the hope of being allotted a farm, and in 1951 they moved onto a 1200-acre war service farm.
Pat became involved with the museum after her retirement from teaching and became Chairperson of the Museum committee a few years later.
With the aid of clips from the 20 video interviews conducted with the remaining soldier settlers and their wives, she captivated the audience with just a few of the multitude of stories that could have been told from this scheme, some humorous, some tragic, but all enlightening and mind boggling for those who had no idea of the hardships and challenges these men and their families faced.
Those 20 interviews are a major component of the historical display to honour the families at the Parndana Museum. While there were individual failures, overall the scheme was a great success. KI would not be a shadow of its current self without the people this scheme brought into the community.
Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the first families arriving at the tin huts at the Parndana East Camp, having been re-built from the Loveday prisoner of war camp. This will see a reunion of the few remaining settlers and their descendants to celebrate those first arrivals.
Not only were the audience present enlightened, but they were also entertained by living music legend Eric Bogle AM. Accompanied by his guitarist mate Pete Titchener, he performed his most famous song that has become an anthem, 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda' to lead into Pat's talk. Eric wrote this iconic song in remembrance of the nearly 50,000 Australian soldiers who died at Gallipoli, soon after observing his first Anzac Day march.
Eric has won many awards, including the Order of Australia medal, and a Peace medal from the UN.
To conclude, Eric and Pete performed ‘The Gift of Years’, written in 1990 for the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.