One hundred years ago, on October 31, 1917, the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse conducted the world’s last great cavalry charge, capturing the wells of Beersheba for Allied forces in World War I’s Palestinian conflict.
Many of the young men fighting in the desert campaigns enlisted from western Queensland, and now 100 riders are sought for a commemorative “Ride to Beersheba” planned for Barcaldine, Ilfracombe, Longreach and Winton in September this year.
Being planned by the Winton 5th Light Horse and the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop, the organisers are seeking expressions of interest from possible participants.
“In World War I, recruiters rode from town to town, gathering people up,” organiser Debbie Nichols said. “For this event, we are looking at eight people from New Zealand coming over to participate.”
Some 40 to 50 Light Horse troops from across Queensland will also be heading west to mark the centenary of the Australian mounted infantry charge in a far off country.
Debbie said the commemoration was structured to enable local riders to participate in all or just some of the planned activities.
“If you can’t make the whole week then please just come and join us at a point closest to your local district.”
Logistics will prevent the total distance being covered on horseback but parades and cenotaph commemorations in each town, as well as a ride between Winton and Bladensburg National Park, culminating in a mounted charge, are being planned, in conjuction with a gala event conducted by the Winton Outback Festival.
According to Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Troop spokesman, Jed Millen, most of the men who enlisted were placed into Light Horse regiments because of their bushman and horsemanship skills.
That makes the event, to run from September 16 to 24, of special significance to western Queensland.
With the majority of riders to be in World War I Light Horse uniform, Jed said the event was likely to attract significant local, state and national interest due to the historical, visual and public interest.
The ride will culminate in Winton and coincide with its Outback Festival, where it will be part of the festival parade.
Debbie said the 2015 festival, where the Anzac centenary commemorations meant there was a large military presence, was the genesis of the idea.
“I told them this country had supplied a lot of men to the war, and we talked about having something special,” she said.
“They thought it would be nice to acknowledge that history.
“If you have your own horse, you’re welcome to join us, in memory of our forebears who fought gallantly for us.
“Maybe you have photos, diary extracts, or other information/items you would like to display, or come as a volunteer and tag along with the ride and enjoy the banter of the horsemen and listen to the stories around the campfires at night.”
Interested riders can contact either Debbie Nichols on 0427 573916 or Bendemeerstn@activ8.net.au or Jed Millen on 0417 195 853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planned outline of events:
- Barcaldine 16-17 September, mounted parade and ceremony at cenotaph in Barcaldine on 18 September
- Ilfracombe 18 September, mounted ride and ceremony at cenotaph
- Longreach, mounted ride to Stockman’s Hall of Fame, overnight Longreach
- Mounted parade in Longreach, 19 September, ceremony conducted at cenotaph, return to Stockman’s Hall of Fame
- Longreach 20 September, depart for Winton, and proceed to Winton Showground
- On 21 September, mounted ride from Winton to Bladensburg National Park, conduct two events that directly relate to the charge and to Winton Light Horsemen that participated in the charge. At conclusion return to Winton
- 21 September, no events allocated at this time
- Participate in mounted street parade and ceremony in Winton, at conclusion return to showground.