Wallabies recruiting march

Route: Walgett, Burren Junction, Wee Waa, Narrabri, Merehula, Turrawan, Baan Baa, Boggabri, Dubledah, Gunnedah, Curlewis, Breeza, Werris Creek, Quirindi, Willow Tree, Murrurundi, Wingen, Scone, Aberdeen, Muswellbrook, Liddell, Ravensworth, Camberwell, Glennies Creek, Singleton, Branxton, Cessnock, Abermain, Weston, Kurri Kurri, East Greta, Maitland, Morpeth, Minmi, West Wallsend, Wallsend, Lambton, Waratah, arriving at Newcastle on 8 January 1916.

Plans to continue the march to Sydney were cancelled by military authorities who wished to use the marchers as the basis of a new locally-raised battalion. This was formed in February as the 34th Infantry Battalion, known, ironically, as Maitland’s Own.

A sad and unexpected epitaph to the march was the death of the Rev. John Wilkinson, Methodist minister, who had joined the march at Narrabri. He was killed by a lightning strike in West Maitland camp on 3 February.

The march was re-enacted in December 1990.

Next of kin plaque commemorating Private J O Kemp, 34 Battalion, AIF. Kemp was born at Wallsend, joined the Wallabies recruiting march, and died in Belgium on 18 July 1917.

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