Coo-ee Bronze Sculpture unveiled at Gilgandra
A centenary bronze statue of an Australian soldier with his hands cupped to “Coo-ee”, made by sculptor Brett Garling, was unveiled in the Community Plaza along Bridge Street in Gilgandra after the 11 am Anzac Day service on 25th April 2015. Gilgandra Lions Club was the major fundraiser for the Coo-ee Bronze Sculpture project.
The following words are engraved on the base of the statue:
‘In recognition of the 35 men who left Gilgandra in 1915 and their eternal footprint on the history of our community and our nation’.
New Coo-ee bronze statue at Gilgandra (Photograph: H. Thompson 2/5/2015)
The following account of the unveiling ceremony is based on the report given in an article titled ‘Coo-ee Bronze Sculpture unveiled’ in The Gilgandra Weekly (28/4/2015, p. 6).
Mayor Batten, who led the unveiling ceremony, said the fact that the “Coo-ee recruitment march originated from Gilgandra and was the first of its kind in the British Empire, was not only of historical significance but a telling forerunner to the extent of community volunteerism and commitment that remains prevalent within the social and cultural fibre of Gilgandra shire today”.
Mayor Batten when introducing the person who would unveil the sculpture, said that “There is no other way to describe this person other than Mr Coo-ee”, and “He was pivotal in the 1987 re-enactment march, he lives and breathes the Coo-ee story every day with his museum and again has asked ‘Will you come’ and join the 2015 Centenary re-enactment march.”
Brian Bywater said when he came forward to unveil the statue “It really gives me a thrill to unveil this sculpture; it has been my dream as well as everyone else’s here who are mixed up with the Coo-ees”, and “Before the 1987 re-enactment, it was awfully hard to get anyone to know about the Coo-ees. The 1987 march brought it off the ground and Gilgandra came to life.”
After pulling off the covering, Brian Bywater asked the crowd to give him a coo-ee back on three, and the crowd of 2000 people answered with ‘Cooooooo-eeeee’.
The Coo-ee March 2015 Reenactment marchers will march past this new statue when they set off from Bridge Street then along Miller street in a parade to the gates at the Cooee March Memorial Park, which lists the names of the 35 Gilgandra Coo-ee March recruits, for a commemorative service before they commence their long march to Sydney on Saturday, 17th October, 1915.