ANZAC Day commemorations a true community event01 April 2023
For Royal Australian Air Force veteran Phill Hunter, there is something very special about an ANZAC Day Dawn Service, especially in his tight-knit community of Tamborine Mountain.
“The early morning service is so unique and very characteristic of how us Australians and New Zealanders commemorate,” Phill says.
And he’s not the only one who feels this way. Phill is President of the Tamborine Mountain RSL Sub Branch and has seen a swell in local attendees at the annual Dawn Service, particularly over the last 10 years. It’s a trend that he predicts will continue.
“I can remember back to when I first joined the Sub Branch in the mid-90s; there was 20 or 30 of us at the Dawn Service. Now, we have around 500 members of the community join us, and it’s growing,” Phill says.
“The Dawn Service is very popular within the community; and in fact, I would say that our Dawn Service will eventually overtake our daytime service in popularity.”
Image: Tamborine Times - Scenic Rim Regional Cadets Inc mount a catafalque guard.
A community united in commemoration
The Sub Branch’s traditional Dawn Service is held at 5am on ANZAC Day. It’s followed later in the morning by a march through the streets of Tamborine Mountain to the town’s central Cenotaph, where the 11am ANZAC Day service is a significant community event.
“Our ANZAC Day service is a very big event for our community. It’s a great example of how our Sub Branch connects with other organisations to bring the community together in commemoration,” Phill says.
The Sub Branch engages the local Lions Club to run a gunfire breakfast, while the community band provides music to accompany the march and locals supply vehicles for veterans to ride in during the march. Local schools are also involved in the laying of wreaths.
“Our Sub Branch takes a significant amount of pride in delivering a service that respects the contribution of our wider community.”
Image: Tamborine Times - Hugh Alexander with Padre Frank White
Strong history in tight-knit community
The community spirit they have forged around ANZAC Day is a feather in the cap for the 83-member Sub Branch, which has proudly represented Mt Tamborine’s ex-service men and women for around 80 years.
The Tamborine Mountain RSL Sub Branch was formed in 1946 but has a history and association with the local area dating back at least 10 years prior to that. The surrounding area of Mt Tamborine has a population of about 7,000 people.
Image: Tamborine Times - Afghan refugees now living in Brisbane with Tim Salau (center) from the Community Refugees Sponsorship Program
“The majority of our members are retirees, with several younger members as well. We consider ourselves to be a typical Sub Branch – we’re small and our age group is more senior,” Phill says.
With an ageing membership, it’s been both a necessary and successful endeavour for the Sub Branch to engage with the wider community to deliver such significant events as the ANZAC Day service.
“Being a tight-knit community in Tamborine Mountain, our Sub Branch is well-known for representing the veteran constituents of our community. This is highlighted especially with the commemorative services that we run for our community on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. But we couldn’t do it without support,” Phill says.
“As a Sub Branch, we certainly couldn’t handle all the requirements ourselves, nor afford to pay for them. We’re so grateful to have the support of other organisations and individuals in our community who chip in to help us all commemorate.”
Image: Tamborine Times - World War II veteran Ian Hart and his daughter Tina.
Relationships built over 25 years’ service
The strong community support can be attributed, in part, to the relationships that the Sub Branch has built within the community, with Phill himself serving on the Sub Branch’s board for 25 years.
“I joined the Tamborine Mountain RSL Sub Branch when I was 33 years old and still serving in the Air Force. It’s the only Sub Branch I’ve belonged to because I’ve lived here all that time,” Phill says.
“Very early on in my membership I was asked to join the Sub Branch’s Board as the treasurer, which I did in 1998, and I’ve remained on the Board ever since.”
Image: Tamborine Times - Greg Rose with a memorial plaque he made for his father, World War II veteran Jack (JA) Rose.
How will you commemorate ANZAC Day?
Since WWI, more than 1.5 million Australians have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
On ANZAC Day (25 April), we invite you to honour their invaluable contribution and commemorate in a way that is meaningful to you.
Attend an RSL Sub Branch service, take a quiet moment to reflect at home or donate to the ANZAC Appeal, and help keep the ANZACs’ legacy alive.
Lest we forget.