An ANZAC History, Carved In The Rocks


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At that time a working class area, The Rocks had in 1901 been taken possession of by the State Government for slum clearance and renewal. In 1914, World War I intervened.

Those who enlisted from The Rocks and Millers Point were generally rough and tough unskilled labourers working on the docks between Darling Harbour and Sydney Cove, who sought opportunity, better and regular pay, the thrill of an overseas adventure, and the bravado that they believed would come from serving in battle. There were also well-educated men, professionals and even the son of a knight. 340 men and women signed up for the war effort; more than 80 never made it home. Each had their own story.

Take for instance, Major Cyril Lane, described as a “fine officer”, after whom “every man in the Battalion would have followed … to the ends of the earth after the first charge.” Major Lane took command of B Company, 18th Battalion just weeks after his wedding to Evelyn MacLurcan; the Battalion trained briefly in Egypt before arriving in Gallipoli in 1915. In August he led his men on a dawn attack on Hill 60; more than half were killed and many wounded. Major Lane died on a following attack, leading his men on a charge of the Turkish trenches.

From 20 April until 3 May, 12 such tales from The Rocks will be unveiled as part of The Rocks Wartime Stories, an exploration of the bravery of some, the failings of others, how some lost everything in the horror of war, and how they got through in a time of great tragedy.

Walk The Rocks and experience 17 outdoor installations along George Street, each telling a personal story and decorated with beautiful native Australian flowers to mark the Centenary of ANZAC and the rich spectrum of local people who contributed to our history.

The Descendants Project at The Rocks Discovery Musuem, a unique portrait exhibition by Turkish artist Mertim Gokalp, tells us the stories of the families of those who served; an honest portrayal of conflict and remembrance, and the lingering influence of the kind of experiences presented in The Rocks Wartime Stories. Depicting Australian and Turkish descendants, and linking them to their ancestors through an item they once owned, it crosses the divide of conflict to reveal the shared experience of both sides at Gallipoli, and the untold, less glorified aspects of war that soldiers had to endure.

Selected works will also be presented in a large-scale outside exhibition at Darling Harbour, adding a new context and revealing the elements of the artworks in a whole new light. To experience and contrast all three free exhibitions lends a deeper understanding of the war experience, and is a powerful addition to personal remembrance and commemoration for the Centenary of ANZAC.

The Rocks Wartime Stories
George St, The Rocks
20 April – 3 May
More information

The Descendants Project
The Rocks Discovery Musuem
Kendall Lane, The Rocks (enter via Argyle Street)
10 April – 3 May
More information

Getting to The Rocks (and home again!) is easy. Check out all the transport options here

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