Mr PASIN (Barker) (19:45): During the First World War, state and federal governments coordinated efforts to build farming communities for returned soldiers and their families. The South Australian government responded as early as 1915 with acts of parliament designed both to repatriate and compensate returning servicemen and to develop agriculture in the regions. Settlement schemes established during and following World War I saw properties with dairy, grapes, vegetables, grains and grazing develop, amongst other places, along the river Murray in South Australia. Three such towns celebrate their centenaries this year: Barmera, Glossop and Monash, But it is the town of Monash that I wish to acknowledge this evening.
The town of Monash, originally a settlement known as Lone Gum—presumably an Australian reference to Lone Pine—was established as a collection of fruit blocks for returned soldiers, with the first allotment being made to H Berriman on 31 November 2017. Officially proclaimed as Monash on this day exactly 100 years ago, 25 August 1921, the town was named after General Sir John Monash, the renowned military commander of World War I. The town has a strong sense of community from its earliest days. The settlers club was established, and the settlers hall opened in 1920, before a new stone memorial hall was built. Many of the early families joined working bees to help soldiers whose war injuries impeded their own abilities. Social and sporting clubs in the town grew, including tennis, football and cricket as well as the Girl Guides and a literary society.
For a period, in the 1960s and 1970s, Monash drew as many as 300,000 people each year from around the country as the Monash playground became one of South Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. At its peek, the playground included 180 pieces of play equipment over five acres. Known as Grant Park, it was established by the son of a solder-settler, Grant Telfer, who, in keeping with the river land’s no fuss, can-do ethos, simply began placing play equipment in a local council reserve.
The town has a military and civilian history to be proud. The Monash military ceremony will be held this Sunday to celebrate the town’s beginnings and to pay respects to the soldier-settlers and their families who built the town and established the community upon their return from war. It will be an opportunity to commemorate the diggers who served their country in war before coming home to be part of rebuilding the Australian economy by developing our agricultural industries. This experience gave rise to some amazing stories, stories like that of William Campbell who, after serving in World War I in France, returned to Adelaide in 1919 before travelling on foot 250 kilometres with as many belongings as he could stack into a wheelbarrow with two sons in toe to establish himself as a fruitgrower in the district. His wife, Elizabeth, and two other children travelled later by horse and dray. The family were located on 16¾ acres at soldier-settlers block 656 at Monash just north of the main township. Here they cleared the land, built a small home and grew a selection of vines. William and Elizabeth were instrumental in the establishment of the Monash school, which was originally a corrugated iron building erected near the general store in 1920. The building served as a school until 1924, when it was replaced with a new stone building at the present school site.
Then there is the story of Roy William McCreanor, who was allocated a block at Monash, where he and his wife settled in 1919. One of the first three properties allocated at Monash under the scheme, Roy’s block, or block 443 on Jury Road, was a thriving fruit block with just over 400 trees, including oranges, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, apples, almonds and figs along with 16 acres of grape vines. That must have been a utopia for Roy after the horrors he experienced at Pozieres. Roy was an active member in the Berri and Monash community, serving for a time on the board of the Co-op Dried Fruit Packaging Shed and the Berri Co-op Winery and Distillery.
He helped establish the library at Monash and was a founding member of the Catholic Church in the Riverland.
These are just a few of the stories of the respected veterans and hardworking families who built our local communities. While I can’t join the community of Monash this Sunday, I wish them all the very best for a fantastic 100th anniversary celebration, and I’m reminded that we stand on the shoulders of giants.