Keeping the ANZAC spirit alive in Barcaldine

RSL Queensland 02 April 2024
  • ANZACspirit
  • History & commemoration

In the small outback town of Barcaldine, community is everything. This is how locals show their support on ANZAC Day.


The Garden City of the West 

Barcaldine – affectionately known as Queensland’s ‘Garden City of the West’ – is an outback town home to approximately 1,500 people. Barcaldine RSL Sub Branch has been running since 1929.

Jake Ardrey, Barcaldine RSL Sub Branch Member was posted to Barcaldine three years ago as a police officer. He served for about seven years in the regular Australian Army and later in the Reserve military police. 


Barcaldine RSL Sub Branch

Barcaldine RSL Sub Branch Member Jake Ardrey

“What’s special about Barcaldine is that as a small outback town, our community is everything. Our Sub Branch is made up of about 40 veterans and non-service members, but there are also non-members who support us in many different ways. We are very grateful for them.” 

Mark Wren, a Barcaldine local who plays for the Sandgoannas Rugby League Club, also considers Barcaldine to be a special place. The close-knit community culture has led him to volunteer his time for the RSL Sub Branch on numerous occasions. 

“My family moved here about 20 years ago from Rockhampton, and everyone has been really welcoming. It’s nice to have that in our community spirit and small-town friendships,” Mark says. 

Barcaldine League Story

Mark Wren - Sandgoannas Rugby League Club

“It’s good to know that people here have your back. The community is always willing to help out in any way they can, and all the clubs and small community groups get behind each other.”  

Commemorating through mateship 

By playing an active role in the town, Barcaldine RSL Sub Branch has forged strong ties with local schools, sports teams and community groups. These groups often provide support to the RSL Sub Branch for major events such as ANZAC Day. 

“Mateship in a small town is very important because we are so isolated; it’s only us here within a hundred kilometres. Generally, any community event that the town holds will be supported,” Jake says. 

Barcaldine RSL

“ANZAC Day is important to me and has always been a big thing for my family,” Mark adds. “I was always taught to respect this time of year and the diggers, so I find it rewarding to help the RSL.” 

In addition to the Dawn Service, Barcaldine’s ANZAC Day events usually include a gunfire breakfast, march, service and Sub Branch members’ luncheon. With assistance from groups such as the Sandgoannas, ANZAC Day 2024 is also set to be a success. 

“The Barcaldine Sandgoannas have helped out on ANZAC Day for the last few years and have done a fantastic job and are very supportive,” Jake says. 

“A lot of our players always want to be involved to pay their respects. Over the years, it’s always been something we put into our calendar,” Mark explains. 

Barcaldine Sand Goannas

“We like to help out where we can. The Sandgoannas get involved by attending the Dawn Service, cooking a barbecue for the gunfire breakfast and doing a march between our seniors and juniors.”  

Supporting the community 

From Mark’s viewpoint, coming together to commemorate and honour veterans is vitally important for the Barcaldine community. 

“It’s important that our club gets behind the RSL Sub Branch each year to include our young people and show respect to the returned and ongoing service men and women,” Mark says. 

Barcaldine Sand Goannas

For any veterans who find themselves in the area and are interested in reaching out to the RSL Sub Branch in the lead-up to ANZAC Day, Jake has some advice. 

“We have a lot of veterans come through Barcaldine on ANZAC Day, and we do our best to welcome them, invite them to events and speak to them about their history and service,” Jake says. 

For those who wish to support veterans, Jake encourages community engagement as the best way to emulate the ANZAC spirit. 

Barcaldine Sand Goannas

“If you’re looking to expand your role within the community, I’d suggest engaging with different community groups,” he says. “Go to their events and support them to let them know you’re behind them if they need any assistance.” 

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.  

Plan Your ANZAC Day