Duncan Chapman: an accidental hero

This first appeared in my Debbish blog on 25 April 2015 
but I thought it apt to share it here as well.

One hundred years ago today, the first ANZACs landed on the beaches of Turkey to engage in a battle they would not win. Twenty-six year old Queenslander Lieutenant Duncan Chapman was the first ashore.

“To me was given the extreme honour of being actually the first man to step ashore on this peninsula, to lead a portion of the men up the hill in that now historic charge.

What a living hell it was too, and how I managed to go through it from 4 o’clock in the morning of Sunday, the 25th April, to Wednesday, the 28th, under fire the whole time, without being hit is a mystery to me.”

Part of a letter from Duncan to brother Charles.

I’m sure Duncan had no idea when he set foot on the soil at Gallipoli in the early hours of 25 April 1915 that a century later he’d be immortalised in bronze in the town of his birth.

However at dawn on Friday 24 April 2015 a statue commemorating his achievement was unveiled in Maryborough, Queensland.

Duncan Chapman statue

Source: Fraser Coast Chronicle

Duncan Chapman was my great great uncle. Born and raised in Maryborough, he was my father’s great uncle and my grandfather’s (maternal) uncle.

Duncan was living in Brisbane (in Albion) and working as a paymaster when he left to serve his country in the war to end all wars.

Maryborough peeps have worked long and hard over recent years to confirm Duncan’s achievement and raise funds for the $60,000 statue. I have to confess I’ve struggled a little with the occasionally OTT fanfare.

Although chosen to be in the covering group; it was pure chance his towboat was the first ashore and that he happened to be in the bow at the time. For this reason I’ve felt* a little uncomfortable with the hero-status afforded him and… I suspect he would be too.

Source: Anzacsightsound.org

Source: Anzacsightsound.org

Indeed, comments on the local newspaper’s website indicate others are a bit frustrated that Duncan has attracted so much attention, when MANY young men from Maryborough formed part of his 9th Battalion.

Naturally however, I’ve wondered about Duncan the man. Although he wasn’t married I wondered if he left behind a girlfriend. Or two.

I’ve read some of his letters and found myself thinking I’d like this man who lived 100 years ago. His letters are well-written. I can only assume he was relatively well educated and articulate. He’s obviously overly fond of punctuation and the occasional adverb… so I feel I can blame my genes for my own predisposition in that respect.

I attended the dawn service yesterday for the unveiling of Great Great Uncle Duncan’s statue. Extended family from interstate had travelled and formed part of the official party. Given my mixed feelings I was happy to stay in the background rather than meet his other great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.

I was relieved when the service itself however, while honouring Duncan, paid tribute to other Maryborough men who fought alongside him. Many of whom (like so many Aussies) died on Turkish soil.

Despite my natural cynicism I found myself tearing up when I learned that rocks and sand had been provided by the Turkish Government (from the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli) which were used in the surrounds of the statue. In fact, the sand was fashioned into footprints and set into the concrete to reflect those who followed Duncan across the beach at (the now) Anzac Cove. *sob*

I realised—perhaps for the first time—that it wasn’t really about Duncan or a town desperate for some fame and fortune. The celebration was about what (and who) Duncan represented. It was the war which coined the term ‘digger’ and—although we didn’t walk away victorious, our fighting spirit became part of our national identity. Sure we’re larrikins who sometimes have little concern for authority, but we’re tenacious bastards.

Duncan was promoted to Captain the day after arriving at Gallipoli. Unlike so many of his fellow ANZACs Duncan survived the Dardanelles, serving in Gallipoli until the evacuation in December 2015.

He did not, however return home. Serving with the 45th Battalion and promoted to Major, Duncan died on the battlefields of Pozieres in August 2016, like so many of his countrymen.

** You may recall the clip I shared recently of this tragic episode in our military history—during which time we lost 23,000 soldiers in just seven weeks. Only to gain 10km of ground. If you haven’t watched that video I’d recommend you do**

In that previous post I talked about the futility of war. I realise today is not a time for such discussions and I have great respect for those who’ve fought and/or died for our country. I do believe it’s an opportunity (however) for some reflection.

The local TV news interviewed a former WWII soldier a couple of nights ago. He doesn’t attend ANZAC day ceremonies, he said. He believes the day should be spent educating young people. His lesson: “There’s no glory in war.”

Lest We Forget.

* I’ve also inherited my father’s EXTREME sense of ‘fairness’.

Fraser Coast Frozen Wonderland

Although many parents and grandparents have probably had enough of Elsa, Anna and endless renditions of Let It Go; I suspect they’ll be keen to check out the Frozen Wonderland on the Fraser Coast during the 2015 Easter school holidays.

Having nothing at all to do with the movie, Frozen Wonderland is setting up at the Maryborough Showgrounds from 3 – 19 April 2015, offering ice skating and tobogganing.

I know little about this event but saw it on Facebook and thought I’d share the love. It’s great to have activities like this (and the visiting dinosaurs) on the Fraser Coast, so I hope locals and visitors take advantage of what’s on offer rather than complain that there’s little to do.

There will be five (5) session times a day (each 1.5hrs) including a 7pm evening session.

ice skating on the fraser coast

I can’t ice skate to save myself and grew up in the 70s and 80s so am more of a roller-skating kinda gal. Well… I was back in the 70s and 80s. I note that they offer 4-bladed skates for kids under 5—which is what I would need (though doubt they come in women’s size 10!) 😉

All of the info you could need is on the website, including some frequently asked questions AND some skating tips! It also lists session times and prices—including packages.

Given this current summer autumn heat it sounds like the perfect spot to be!

Frozen Wonderland – www.frozenwonderland.com.au/
OR check them out on Facebook.

Explore-a-saurus: Dinosaurs on the Fraser Coast

When I was very young there was a magical place in Maryborough, known as the Wintergarden Theatre. My friends and I were regular visitors until it closed in the mid 1980s and I vaguely recall either Flashdance or Footloose being the last movie I saw there.

However… I digress as this story starts a decade earlier, when I inadvertently saw a dinosaur movie which scared the bejesus out of me. I cannot recall the movie in question but it was back in the day of double-header movies, so I suspect it was just the support act for the film we actually went to see. I don’t remember what that was either—emerging scarred with visions of dinosaurs eating people out of cages. Or something.

Yet Friday night I returned to Maryborough for more dinosaur adventures.

Unless you live under a rock (oops sorry, poor stone-age joke!) you’re probably aware that the Explore@saurus dinosaur exhibition is currently on display at Maryborough’s City Hall.

dinosaurs maryborough

The four-month long exhibition kicked off in December 2014 and is in town until 19 April 2015.

If I had kids to accompany I’m sure I’d have been more motivated to visit before now, but alas… it took the promise of alcohol to get me there.

drinks at explore-a-saurus in maryborough

Fraser Coast Events has just hosted the second Night at the Museum—held on Friday 13th in February and March. Always keen to try something different, a friend and I headed to the borough to partake in the cretaceous bar, dinosaurs and whatever else was on offer.

I must admit I was expecting the worst but other than the presence of a few naff stuffed dinosaurs (purely for decorative purposes), the displays were quite impressive. In addition to a half dozen rather large animatronic dinosaurs there are a host of interactive activities. Not to mention exhibits of dinosaur poop which I know will appear to any boy under 10!

dinosaurs maryborough explore-a-saurus fraser coast

The evening events are targeted at adults but at other times a range of kids’ activities are on offer, including colouring, mask making and the opportunity to dig in a sandpit and discover fossils and treasures for yourself.

And there’s stacks to learn. My friend and I  were only slightly embarrassed to admit we knew nothing about our own country’s palaeolithic history so were surprised to come across the Muttaburrasaurus. Which is apparently a real thing and named after the Queensland town!

The four-month tenure of the exhibit seems a bit excessive to me but I note the Fraser Coast Chronicle reported that the exhibit’s now had 15,000 visitors so has broken even and hope that means similar events are considered in the future.

Like many locals I tend to jump on the Fraser Coast Regional Council for their WTF ideas (viewing platform in Maryborough CBD anyone?!), but credit where it’s due.

I’m actually really impressed with some of Council’s cultural/arts initiatives in Maryborough. I know it sometimes feels like Hervey Bay’s poor cousin, but in reality the Council’s hosting a raft of interesting activities now. I’ve missed the last few Gatakers by Night but continue to enjoy the evenings. I’m yet to attend the Sunday Riverside activities but very keen to get along on a Sunday afternoon. And the pop-up bar amid the dinosaurs at City Hall—another great idea!

The exhibition closes on 19 April 2015 and is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10am – 4pm. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for concessions or kids aged 3-16. Family passes and other deals are also available. For more information and online ticket sales, check out the Fraser Coast Events site.

Hervey Bay Cinemas – Bigscreen Showcase

Elsewhere I’ve confessed to being a television addict. I don’t watch anything and everything and I do believe I have a *ahem* discerning TV-viewing palate; however I do love to binge-watch entire series of TV on DVD on a regular basis.

I was once similarly keen on movies. While at University (though poor) I’d take myself off to the city cinemas on a regular basis – handing over my student card for a discounted ticket. I went almost weekly at one point and became so accustomed to going alone I actually felt disgruntled when friends wanted to accompany me. Of course in those days I also frequented the cinema at University (the Schonell) which showed some edgy arthouse movies – again, at good prices.

But over the years I’ve been to the cinema less and less, preferring to wait until something’s out on DVD so I can watch it in the comfort of my own home.

However… my movie-going lethargy has been broken as I’ve attended THREE movies in the last three weeks alone! (And, I’m starting to get my movie-going groove back!)

I’m a member of the Hervey Bay Arts Council so received this little gem in my email inbox a month or so ago. Naturally I shared it on the FraserCoasting Facebook page and forwarded it to some friends.

image001

My friends and I were quite excited by the concept of the Showcase at the BigScreen Cinemas Hervey Bay  – presumably featuring movies which might not normally make it here AND selling tickets at a good price.

One of my girlfriends saw four of the five movies on offer, while I saw The Butler (loved it); Blue Jasmine (Cate Blanchett was amazing but I did clock-watch a bit); and Mystery Road (bleak, mesmerising, but simultaneously frustrating).

We talked to a staffer at the cinema this past weekend and she said there may be more Showcase movies in the New Year.

Of course the only regrettable aspect was that the movies weren’t particularly well-attended. The majority garnered a small audience but there were only a handful of people at Mystery Road (an Aussie movie filmed in Winton).

They weren’t publicised any more than the other movies on offer and perhaps I’ll try to do more to promote the Showcase in future as I’m sure there’s a heap of potential movie-goers on the Fraser Coast who’d appreciate something different.

And – again – we can hardly complain about stuff NOT coming to our regional beachside town if we don’t support it when it does!

Wil Anderson, Lindsay Webb and pissed punters

I haven’t seen a lot of live comedy. Not for any particular reason other than – in my previous life I was occasionally apathetic about doing ‘stuff’. My working week felt really full-on; so much so that on weekends I really just wanted to hibernate.

In fact, other than seeing the guys from Oz TV show, The Chaser at a writers festival, the only other comedy act I can recall seeing was an Irish comedian / actor – Dylan Moran. (Who I find bizarrely attractive in his role as Bernard in the TV show Black Books!)

But, because I’m trying to be a ‘joiner’ in my new hometown, I’m doing more than I would previously have done. That means going to some festivals and shows which I’d prefer to avoid as well as those I’m keen to attend.

When I saw Wil Anderson was coming to Hervey Bay I was stoked. I’m not a rabid stalker-like fan, but I remember the days of The Glasshouse and love the Gruen franchise. A friend and I bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale, lest we miss out, and a month or so later rocked up to the RSL (my first visit other than for meetings!).

wil

There was a good crowd. 300+ I think, which is great. I loved that there were a wide range of peeps there as well – crisscrossing the generations. Indeed there seemed to be entire families in attendance.

And support act (Brissy comedian) Lindsay Webb was friggin’ hilarious. He mostly chatted to the audience, thought on his feet and had us all in hysterics.

Although it was during Lindsay’s performance… we started to see the ugly side of attention-seeking pissy patrons.

Sadly by the time Wil appeared a few members of the crowd were fairly shit-faced.

I suspect I sound like a nanna; but I enjoy a drink as much as the next person. Back in the day I had those nights when I was as pissed as a fart or struggled to remember what happened between arriving at the races at 2pm and being in my kitchen 8hrs later.  But I like to think I was never rude or disrespectful when pissed. (Although I’m fairly sure I was amazingly witty and hilarious!)

I guess live performers are used to the ‘great unwashed’ rabble, but I was really disappointed in the behavior of a few attendees. They’d obviously been drinking heavily before the show started and others at our table agreed that it was a waste of $40 to come to something like that and struggle to remember any of it the next day.

Worse than that though, they ruined the show for other punters. One woman constantly shouted out comments throughout the show (although was silent at the end and I was wondering if she fell asleep); another guy chatted to friends at his table constantly; a couple of pissed women stood to one side (near the bar) and talked LOUDLY – seemingly not paying any attention to Lindsay or Wil; and one woman interrupted Wil’s routine with a ridiculously inane question about our foreign Minister. I mean… What. The. Actual. Fuck?!

I felt terribly embarrassed: We have quality performers coming to our town and we disrespect them?!

Earlier in the day I saw a tweet from a young person complaining about Hervey Bay residents.

Screen shot 2013-11-10 at 9.02.55 AM

“Oh, that’s a bit harsh,” I thought when I read it. But just hours later I was thinking the same thing.

Having said that – and had my whinge – I know that the majority of people in the town and region and those at last night’s show, aren’t rude or ignorant. However… sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

#Inothernews, Wil was also great. He was a bit thrown by the Julie Bishop question but other than that I loved his rants about the media – particularly talkback radio (as I just had a similar rant in my Debbish blog!).

PS. And Sarah… I’m fairly sure Julie Bishop is female. Had your question touched on her competence or policies it might have provided Wil with some comedic fodder, alas…