ANZAC Day 2016 – 4 Truths of War

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Sydney OutBack honors our diggers this ANZAC Day, with special note to Aboriginal Australians who served overseas, urging Australians near and far to remember the sacrifices of all who have proudly served our country in the Armed Forces.

Inspired by direct descendant of the Guringai Aboriginal people, Uncle Neil Evers, Sydney OutBack pays specific honour to Aboriginal service personnel. In the words of Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, “For too long, their stories have largely been untold and unheralded.”

Here are 4 truths of war that are important to keep alive this ANZAC Day:

  1. Sacrifice is man’s highest gift to another. We honor all Australian service personnel. We honor, too, the thousands of fallen and returned Australian Aboriginal service personnel who were not afforded equal honor with their ANZAC mates, even to their natural death.
  2. Wisdom and presence are vital on the battlefield. So many young Australians, wide eyed with innocence and adventure, went to fight for Australian democracy and soil – and in hope for a better life after the war. We highlight the knowledge of Aboriginal trackers and the skill of Aboriginal soldiers in weaponry, and are thankful for them.
  3. In darkness – in war – we are all the same and all blood runs red. Despite being subject to the “Aborigines Protection Act”, proud Aboriginal service personnel endured racist slurs and belittling attitudes daily as they served our country. As Uncle Neil says, “To their mates in the trenches they were Mick, Ben and Harry. The misconceptions and negative stereotypes that surely many non-Aboriginal diggers had in their minds when they joined would have quickly disappeared when they were living, eating, laughing and dying with these young Aboriginal fellas. Today the bodies of those that fell in the battlefields of France and Belgium remain with their mates, thousands of miles away from their ancestral homes.” Uncle Neil estimates that a third of Aboriginal soldiers who served overseas in war were killed in action or died of wounds or disease as a result of war. Wounded survivors of war were all sent home.
  4. Gratefulness is timeless. Gratitude for the service and sacrifices of Aboriginal ANZACs and war servicemen was not quick in coming. In fact, not quick at all. Even by 1967, when Aboriginal people was “permitted to vote”, even the most decorated Aboriginal service personnel were not granted access to most Returned Servicemen Leagues (RSL) clubs or to march alongside their mates on ANZAC day. We bow our heads to acknowledge their sacrifice, in thanks, and add our voice to the petition for fair advancement and treatment of all Australians.

Sydney OutBack endeavors to educate and inspire visitors with a small window into Australia’s rich Aboriginal heritage as we journey through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, home to the most concentrated collection of Aboriginal Heritage Sites anywhere in the world. To learn more about Sydney OutBack’s Wilderness and Aboriginal Explorer Tour and Cruise, just click here.

Our tours are also part of Tourism Australia’s Indigenous Tourism Champions Program (ITCP), recognizing that we offer a quality experience that that meets the needs and expectations of international visitors.

Lest we forget.

To read Uncle Neil Evers’ original piece (April 2016) about Australia’s Black Diggers, click Neil Evers Aboriginal Diggers 2016. To read Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston’s comment (June 2012 and photo credit/source), click here.  To access James Bennett’s opinion piece (April 2014), “Aboriginal servicemen ignored for far too long” (on the Newcastle Herald website), click here. To learn about our Aboriginal War Memorial in Sydney, click here.

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