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Big Guns Draw A Crowd

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Lt Colonel Harry Smith, actor Travis Fimmel who’ll play Colonel Smith in a new film about the Battle of Long Tan, and veteran Bill Roche chatted while they waited for Wooroolin’s Anzac Day Parade

April 26, 2016

Wooroolin’s Anzac Day drew a larger-than-usual crowd this year, and credit for it was probably split evenly between a famous guest speaker and star power.

The famous guest speaker was Lt Colonel Harry Smith who led his troops on the ground at the Battle of Long Tan, the most iconic battle of the Vietnam War, where a heavily outnumbered group of 108 Australian and New Zealand troops defeated an estimated 2000-strong Viet Cong force.

Colonel Smith, who was accompanied to Wooroolin by a small group of Long Tan veterans, had been invited to address this year’s Commemoration Service at Wooroolin Hall.

The star power was supplied by Australian actor Travis Fimmel, who will play Colonel Smith in a new movie, ‘Danger Close’, which is expected to begin filming at Wooroolin’s paulownia forest and the Wooroolin Wetlands within weeks.

Travis rose to international fame playing the role of Ragnar Lothbrok in the historical TV drama Vikings, where he was the lead character for four seasons between 2013 and 2016, but he has appeared in many other stage and screen productions since he took up acting in 2003.

Travis attended the commemorations with members of Danger Close’s production crew including director Kriv Stenders and producer Martin Walsh, happily posing for photos (and the odd selfie) with anyone who asked.

Wooroolin’s traditional Anzac Day activities kicked off with a street parade at 11:15am, led by the Wooroolin State School Bugle Band.

Local schoolchildren from Wooroolin, Crawford and Tingoora also marched and were followed – after a short break – by the Wondai and District Town Band, local veterans, the Wooroolin Ladies Choir and emergency services personnel.

After this, the crowd of onlookers who’d watched the parade from the side of the temporarily closed Bunya Highway filed into Wooroolin Hall.

Things were so crowded organisers had to send out for extra chairs …

The service was compered by Cr Ros Heit.

Students from Wooroolin, Tingoora and Crawford State Schools read five Resolutions, and students from the Wooroolin School Choir and Wooroolin Ladies Choir sang “Lest We Forget” and the National Anthem before Colonel Smith delivered his address.

Colonel Smith asked everyone to remember that apart from great wars such as WWI and WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and recent conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Australia has been sending troops into battle overseas ever since New Zealand’s Maori Wars during the 1860s.

He recounted each of these conflicts – some big, some smaller – and how many Australians had died in each campaign, and said the total came to slightly more than 105,000.

He reminded the audience that Anzac Day commemorates not only those soldiers who served in the better-known conflicts, but all Australians who have put themselves in harm’s way for the past 155 years to serve the nation.

After Colonel Smith’s talk, the service concluded with the laying of wreaths, a reading of the names of the fallen, the Last Post, a minute’s silence, the Ode and Reveille, and a performance by the Wondai and District Town Band.

Afterwards, Colonel Smith and his party accompanied the Danger Close crew to Wooroolin’s paulownia forest to inspect its suitability as a film location.

Colonel Smith said while the forest wasn’t a rubber plantation, it closely resembled one and he was certain a little Australian film magic could make it indistinguishable from the real thing.

Tracey Vieira, the CEO of Screen Queensland which is financing the movie ‘Danger Close’, chatted with Colonel Harry Smith; parts of the film will be shot near Wooroolin

Many people wanted to have their photo taken with Travis, including Leah Boyle …

Leanne Sainsbury and her son James were also big fans …

…and even South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell found Travis’ star power difficult to resist

Outside Wooroolin Hall, Rob Woodall from Stanwell chatted with Tingoora’s Keith and Gayle Kratzmann …

… while inside, members of the Wooroolin Ladies Choir had a quick last-minute rehearsal

The crowded Wooroolin Hall … even Travis Fimmel had to squeeze in on a side seat (Photo: Ros Heit)

* * *

Wooroolin Parade

Wooroolin’s parade was led by Wooroolin State School’s Bugle Band …

… followed by the rest of the school’s students …

… and then Crawford State School students …

… with Tingoora State School students and flag-bearers bringing up the rear

While students filed into Wooroolin Hall, bandmaster Noel Selway wheeled the Bugle Band around in front for a few more tunes while the crowd waited for the second section of the parade to arrive

The Wondai and District Town Band began marching towards the hall soon afterwards …

… followed by a long procession of veterans …

… bookended by the Wooroolin Ladies Choir and emergency services personnel

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables

3 Responses to Big Guns Draw A Crowd

  1. John Box

    Thank you SBOnline for the excellent coverage of the Anzac ceremonies across the South Burnett. Especially for those of us who were away from the district for the event.

  2. Suzi and Max Walters

    We really disliked the way a mere film star took away some of the day for the real people which ANZAC day is all about. He didn’t show much respect by the way he dressed either. We take our hats of to Lt Colonel Harry Smith and all service personal that served in wars.

  3. Mark O'Shannessy

    Great article: balanced, reflective and energetic – thank you.

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