Coastal commemoration

PARADE: The Naracoorte 3rd Light Horse Regiment brought a sense of occasion to Robe. Picture: JACQUI BATEMAN

By Brett Kennedy

THE inaugural four-day Robe 2 Recovery Anzac Day commemoration has exceeded expectations with the community transforming the seaside town in a tribute to veterans.

From the emotional presentation of specially-designed guernseys by veterans to Robe footballers on Thursday night to Sunday’s dawn service, the Anzac spirit radiated throughout the township.

The delivery of the match ball to Saturday’s Mid South Eastern Football League clash between Robe and Hatherleigh by the Mach 5 Wingsuit Team went off without a hitch, while veterans from as far away as Queensland travelled to Robe as part of the commemoration.

The Robe 2 Recovery program supports selected veterans with short-term holiday in the coastal town, with the community supplying accommodation, food, supplies and vouchers to be used during their stay.

The successful initiative was the catalyst for last weekend’s events, with organiser Jacqui Bateman setting out to recreate a sense of occasion similar to that of the traditional AFL clash between Collingwood and Essendon.

“It was above all expectations,” Ms Bateman said.

“We hoped it would be fantastic but it was brilliant – the entire community pulled together,” she said.

Friday’s veterans golf day at Robe Golf Club was strongly supported and looks likely to become an annual fixture.

Saturday’s football clash was preceded by several formalities, including both the Australian and New Zealand national anthems.

“Both teams were there to win and the game was played in the right spirit,” Ms Bateman said.

Ms Bateman said she believed the events had further galvanised the community behind Robe 2 Recovery.

“The displays in businesses windows were absolutely amazing, everyone went to quite a bit of effort,” she said.

“To have veterans walk down the street and see messages saying they are welcome in this town and they are among friends was very heartwarming.”

Ms Bateman said the committee would now review this year’s event and explore whether it will return in 2022, with Anzac Day falling on a Monday.

“When a community unites behind something like this we can achieve so much,” Ms Bateman said.