Centenary commemorations at the Gathering Place
The 2015 ANZAC Day services have recently been commemorated across much of Australia, and many communities engaged in special projects to make this 100th anniversary commemoration extra special.
One such community in the Wangaratta shire in north-east Victoria is Greta, historically home to the infamous Ned Kelly. These days, there are around 150 households in the Greta district, which incorporates the broader localities of Greta, Greta West, Hansonville and Greta South. A number of community groups within the district collaborated to create a central focal point within the township of Greta, a place where the community could come together to celebrate special events.
Funding leveraged to extend project
The Gathering Place, as the project came to be known, gained momentum as the community set their sites on having a special place to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli.
The Greta Sporting Complex, in conjunction with the Greta-Hansonville Hall Committee and the Greta Heritage Group, successfully applied for a Small Grant funded by The Ledger Charitable Trust, managed by Perpetual, and with the initial seed funding of $4,000, stage 1 of the project commenced.
A paved area in the shape of a semi-circle was constructed at the front of the Greta-Hansonville Hall, with a large commemorative rock at its centre, and two flagpoles at either end. Australia Day saw the first event and official opening of the site attended by over 150 people.
Commitment and cooperation create a community legacy
What started as a modest endeavour conjured up by ‘a group of three with big dreams and no money’ became a three-staged project run by a large, dedicated combined committee as community support grew and further funding was obtained through the ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program. A commemorative plaque honouring the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing was laid, a memorial wall has also been added to the site, and the district’s missing honours board was recreated as the final step in the project. Plans are afoot to release a book early in 2016 that will tell the stories of the men who went to WW1, the work of the local Red Cross, and how the district managed during the war years.
Noeleen Lloyd, from the Greta Heritage Group, said that the support and encouragement from the local community was incredible.
Community heritage and pride restored
“All of this has stemmed from the initial project that this grant assisted to fund, and the interest and passion it has sparked has been amazing. The first stage would not have been able to have been completed without the grant from FRRR and support and donations from the local community. This project has created a space and forum for people to share information, memories and make connections. It has been wonderful to see and hear the reports of lost connections being re-established, along with new ones being made,” she said.
The project has also raised the profile of the local area, attracting visitors who have come specifically to see the ‘Gathering Place’. No longer is the Greta district only known as ‘Kelly country’.