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Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway

Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, close-up of timber sign
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, timber sign and bushrock with Mackay/Gilmore plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, plinths along walkway
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, dedication plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Australia's commitment to Afghanistan plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Boer War plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Balikpapan plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Somalia plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Australian Animals at War plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Changi Prison plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Legacy plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Australians in Vietnam plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Kokoda Track plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, National Service plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Operation Tamar plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Battle at Buna plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, HMA/HMAS Kanimbla plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, indigenous service plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Australian peacekeepers and peacemakers plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Women in War plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Kingscliff RSL Women's Auxiliary plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, the Battle of Coral Sea plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Indonesian Confrontation plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Sydney Harbour bombings plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Korean War plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, The Battle of Milne Bay plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, Australians on the Western Front plaque
Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway, close-up of Mackay/Gilmore commemorative plaque
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Description / Background

The memorial consists of a concrete walkway, connecting Murphy's Road with a lookout at Dreamtime Beach in Kingscliff, NSW. Along the path are a number of concrete plinths. The plinths feature numerous plaques, which have been placed in honour of conflicts in which Australia has been involved. The inscriptions include a variety of information, such as historical accounts of operations, casualty statistics, and dedications to specific groups. Some of the groups represented are indigenous service personnel, servicewomen, and homefront workers. Several of the plaques have been designed, written, or illustrated by students from local schools. 

The plaques are in the shape of open books, with the two 'pages' filled with raised text that has been highlighted in gold. They also often include illustrations to complement the content. These illustrations include service personnel, animals, maps, and emblems or logos of related orgnisations, such as the Returned and Services League of Australia. Each plaque is shown in the images above and is transcribed in the Inscriptions section below. 

The walkway is marked by a timber sign at the corner of Murphy's Road and McKissock Drive. There is also a commemorative plaque, attached to a bushrock in front of the sign, in honour of Ivan Mackay and Mavis Gilmore who were integral in the development of the memorial.

The walkway was opened by General Peter Cosgrove on 26 April 2007. The details of the opening are recorded on one of the plaques along the walk. The project was the result of contributions by the Tweed Shire Council, Kingscliff RSL sub-Branch, Wommin Bay Village, the Lions Club, individuals, local orgnisations, businesses, schools and historical societies, and grants from the Australian Government's Department of Veterans' Affairs. 

Timeline for plaques

Since the opening of the walkway, numerous plaques have been installed:

  • Early 2012 - The 'Australia's committment to Afghanistan' plaque was dedicated. 
  • 17 August 2012 - Kingscliff RSL sub-Branch received a Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grant from the Department of Veterans' Affairs to install a plaque in honour of the Australians who served in the Anglo-Boer War. It was dedicated by Bogangar Public School and unveiled by General Cosgrove at the opening of the walkway.
  • 15 September 2014 - The department awarded a Community Commemorative Grant to the sub-Branch for the installation of another two plaques. These were the 'Balikpapan' and 'Somalia' plaques. 
  • 10 August 2016 - Ms Justine Elliott MP, member for Richmond, dedicated four more plaques on the walkway. These were the 'Australian Animals in War', 'Changi Prison', 'Legacy', and 'Australians in Vietnam' plaques. The sub-Branch had received a Community Commemorative Grant from the department for the Changi Prison and Vietnam plaques.
  • 11 June 2019 - Ms Elliott MP unveiled two new plaques commemorating 'National Service' and 'Operation Tamar'.
  • 14 June 2020 - The sub-Branch was awarded an Australian Community Grant to install two plaques on the walkway dedicated to military personnel who served in the First World War. These were the 'Australians on the Western Front' and the 'Australians in Gallipoli' plaques. 

Also located on site is the Wommin Bay Memorial Walkway Lone Pine.


Timber sign on Murphy's Road


Plaque 1


This plaque was placed by the board of Wommin Bay Village on 26th April 2007 to acknowledge the contribution of veterans

to Australia's military history

Unveiled by General Peter Cosgrove 

Joint initiative by Tweed Shire Council

Wommin Bay Village and local schools

Wommin Bay Hostels

Plaque 2


Following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, Australia announced an Australian Defence contribution to coalition operations against terrorism. The Special Forces Task Force operated in Afghanistan until December 2002.

The Special Forces Task Force was again committed to Afghanistan in 2005. This is part of Australia's contribution to Operation Slipper.

Under Operation Slipper, Australian has contributed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. ISAF seeks to bring security, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan and aims at preventing the country from again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.

The Australian commitment is part of a peace-enforcement mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and at the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and the United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1833.

Australia has had a presence of 1550 members of the Defence Forces committed to the Australian mission.

At the time of the dedication of the plaque in early 2012, 32 Australian had lost their lives in Afghanistan.

[Illustration of two Australian soldiers in the desert]

[Kingscliff High School emblem; Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Text composed by Kingscliff High School Year 9 History Endeavour Class, 2011.

Story inspired by the loss of an ex-Kingscliff High School student in action while serving with the Australian forces in the Afghanistan.

Plaque 3


(11th Oct 1899–31st May 1992)

The Boer War took place in South Africa and lasted for almost three years. Approximately 16,500 Australian volunteers from all the states served in this war; it was the first war in which the federated states of Australia fought. Initially all the individual Australian states sent troops to South Africa. These men were mainly mounted on horses and were known as Mounted Rifles or Imperial Bushmen.

Approximately 8,000 more Australians served in local South African irregular units. Many of these men were gold miners who had traveled to South Africa before the war.

The Boers were mainly pioneer farmers who had established their own independent republics in Southern Africa; the ZAR (or Transvaal) and OVS (or Orange Free State). Unfortunately for the Boers the word's largest gold deposits were found in the ZAR in 1886.

Many foreign miners flocked to the small country to make their fortune. The Boers felt threatened by this large influx of immigrants. Tensions saw war break out on 11th October 1899. Boers were very good horsemen, hunters and good shots. Many new tactics had to be learnt on the battlefield.

This was the first war in which Australian troops wore the 'Rising Sun' badge and the familiar slouch war. Six men won the Victoria Cross—the first time this award was bestowed upon an Australian. A total of 590 Australians died in this war— most of whom died of disease. The war degenerated into a protracted Guerilla war. Peace was declared on the 31st May 1902.

Dedicated by the students of Bogangar Public School

[Illustration of a Mounted Rifleman on horseback]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Accentuate The Positive logo]

Plaque 4


A port on the southern coast of Dutch Borneo, Balikpapan was the site of the first Major Australian ground operation of the Second World War. The landing at Balikpapan was codenamed Oboe Two, and was the largest of the Oboe operations mounted by 1 Australian Corps at various places around Borneo. The landing's objectives were to secure all processing and port facilities. After a tremendous preparatory bombardment, the 7th Division went ashore on the morning of 1 July 1943. It was the first time during the war that the division had fought as a whole.

Once ashore, the division had to fight much harder for its beachhead than had the forces at earlier Oboe landings at Tarakan or Brunel Bay and concerted Japanese resistance continued for the next three weeks as it advanced inland. The operational tempo decreased thereafter but daily engagements with the Japanese continued until the war's end.

Balikptan was one of the most controversial Australian operations of the Second World War. By this point it was clear that the Australian operations in Borneo were not contributing anything to the final defeat of Japan and many high-ranking Australian officers considered them strategically unsound. The Australian Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Thomas Blamey, advised the government to withdraw its support for Oboe. The government, however stood behind the Commander-in Chief of the South West Pacifica Area, General Douglas MacArthur, who had devised the Oboe operations, and the Balikpapan landings went ahead. They resulted in the deaths of 229 Australians and 2,300 Japanese.

A resident of Duranbah Lieutenant William Loder was a member of 2/25th Battalion which fought at Balikpapan.

[Illustration of service personnel coming ashore]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Duranbah Public School emblem]

Plaque 5


(29th November 1992–22nd May 1993)

Somalia is found on the horn of Africa. Control of the country in recent time has been by the Arabs, the Persians, the Italians and the British. In 1960 independence was granted by Britain and Italy through the United Nations and the Republic of Somalia was established. The President was assassinated in a military coup in 1969 and the army seized control. War with Ethiopia, civil unrest and a military dictatorship destroyed all civil and administrative functions within the country. By 1990–1991 the country was in the hands of local warlords/bandit groups who dominated by terror. Murder, robbery, rape and the rule of the gun were the weapons used.

The United Nations Security Council resolution 775 proposed the intervention of armed forces to ensure the distribution of humanitarian aid to the population. On the 14th October 1992 the Australian Government committed a Movement Control Unit (MCU) to Mogadishu. The United States (US) committed a task force of 1800 to the Mogadishu area on the 29th November 1992. The United Nations passed another resolution (794) organising a multi-national force lead by the US to intervene in the war torn country and establish order. This was operation "RESTORE HOPE". 1 RAR was officially warned for duty in Somalia on the 17th December 1992. The Battalion group consisted of 653 from 1RAR including 56 soldiers from 2/4RAR elements from 107 Bty 4 Fd Regt, B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt, 17 Fd Tp 3 CER, 103 Sig Sqn, Public Relations, Bn Spt Gp and Div Int.

Aggressive patrolling and convoy protection during their tour ensured the safe passage of over 400 convoys of essential supplies to the starving populations. Contact with the bandits -(war lord forces) was usually fast with the response from the Australians being decisive and deadly. During this time the battalion action resulted in 7 enemy killed, 4 wounded and 70 taken prisoner and handed over to Security Forces. The action also secured 935 weapons and ensured the safe delivery of over 8000 tons of aid supplies.

The experience of being exposed to the waste of human life, the murder of innocents, the lack of water and sewerage facilities and the total decay of human values was a shock to most. Australia lost one soldier on the operation.

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Fingal Head Public School emblem]

Plaque 6


The Boer War to Afghanistan

[Illustration of a horse and a dog]

Australia has always had a strong affiliation with animals because of our ties with the land. As early as the 1830s, Australia was shipping locally bred horses for service with the British Army in India. The horse bred for such action was a combination of all the horses that were brought into Australia from the surrounding colonies. It was known as the 'Waler' and was part Cape Horse, part Timor pony, part British thoroughbred, part Arab and part Clydesdale. Over 16,000 horses were sent to Africa to be used for Australian cavalry in the Boer War—none returned.

During WW1, horses had a pivotal role transporting troops and hauling supplies, equipment and ammunition. More than 136,000 were sent with Australian troops. Only one returned home at war's end. As well as providing companionship, dogs were trained to sniff out explosives, find fallen soldiers and carry messages. Carrier pigeons proved essential as a means of passing messages, which were written on tiny pieces of paper and strapped to their legs. The pigeon's success in reaching their destinations saved thousands of lives and made them the first animals to receive war medals.

Many soldiers brought kangaroos with them as mascots and several were given to the Cairo Zoo when the units left Mena Camp to go to Gallipoli. WW2 saw an enormous variety of animals tested for new or different roles many of whom had made brief appearances in the previous war. Elephants, mules, donkeys, camels, birds, dolphins, cats and monkeys were also adopted for one purpose or another. Again the horse and the dog stood out as Australia's best animal exports.

It was the dog however who proved its worth in the modern era. Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Timor, L'Este, Iraq and Afghanistan saw Australian dogs trained for the most supportive roles in assisting troops on the ground to avoid ambushes and IEDs. In Vietnam and Malaya dogs were mainly tracker dogs (Army) and Air Raid Alert and Airfield Defence dogs (RAAF) but in Iraq and Afghanistan they became really important as Explosive (Ordnance) Detection Dogs and Combat Assault Dogs—Australian animals have served us well.

[Lions International emblem]

Plaque 7


[Illustration of two prisoners of war, leaning on each other]

Changi Prison was constructed by the British administration of the Straits Settlement as a civilian prison, in 1936. During World War 2, after the Fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese military detained about 3,000 civilian prisoners in Changi which was designed to house 600. The British Army's Selarang Barracks, near the prison, was used as a prisoner of war camp and housed some 50,000 - predominately British and Australian, soldiers and from 1942 Dutch civilians. 

Australian prisoners of war suffered greatly under the Japanese during the Second World War. Many were sent to Changi prisoner of war camp after capture in Java, Singapore or Malaysia.

By mid 1942, approximately 15,000 Australians were held prisoner although Selarang became a transit stop for many prisoners as working parties were sent to other camps in Singapore and Malaya or to work on projects such as Burma-Thailand railway and the Sandakan Airfield in Borneo as part of the Japanese war effort.

In May 1944 all the Allied prisoners in Changi, including 5,000 Australians, were concentrated in the small areas of the original civilian Changi Gaol. In this area 11,700 prisoners were crammed into less than a quarter of a square kilometre. Rations were cut, camp life was increasingly restricted and in July 1944 the authority of allied senior officers over their troops was revoked. It is these times that saw the Changi became synonymous with the suffering of Australian prisoners.

Allied POW's, mainly Australians, built a chapel at the prison in 1944 using simple tools and local materials. After the war the chapel was dismantled and shipped to Australia with the cross, fashioned by SGT Harry Stodgen out of a used artillery shell, was sent to the UK. The chapel has been reconstructed and is now located at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra.

Changi was liberated by troops of the 5th Indian Division on 5 September 1945 and within a week troops were being repatriated. After the war the prison was used briefly to hold Japanese soldiers who were held on suspicion of having committed war crimes'.

[Wollumbin High School emblem; Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 8


On a WW 1 battlefield in France a young digger lay mortally wounded in the arms of his mate. He asked that his mate look after his wife and kids at home. From this legend grew the recognition of the needs of the families of fallen diggers.

Legacy had its origins in Hobart in 1923, when the 'Remembrance Club' was set up by veterans of WW1 to help former comrades who were struggling to re-establish themselves in the community. Legacy itself was formally established in Melbourne in 1923 in recognition of the greater needs of the widows and children of those who did not return. This became the Charter of Legacy.

All Legacy Clubs are run by volunteers who raise their working funds from the sale of badges and donations. Little government assistance is available. Legacy is dedicated to the widow/widowers and the dependent children of defence force personnel killed in war or whilst training for war. In peacekeeping or other hazardous services or who have died subsequently.

During times of war these families have had to endure the worry of not knowing the fate of their loved ones from day to day ("for they also serve - those who sit and wait"). For many their loved ones did not return. For the children, they lost a parent forever. In addition, many waited for the return of partners who were physically or psychologically damaged and would need special care and attention for the rest of their lives.

Legacy is a charity providing services to Australian families suffering after the injury or death of a spouse or parent, during or after their Defence Force service. Legacy currently cares for about 80,000 widows and 1800 children and disabled dependents throughout Australia.

Plaque 9


Australia signed the ANZUS Treaty with the USA and NZ in 1981 amidst much controversy. The Treaty was about the provision of advice to treaty members not military support. In 1962 Colonel Ted Serong (considered to be our foremost expert in jungle warfare) landed in Saigon and provided advice to the American and South Vietnamese Military Leaders. Serong immediately set about arranging for Australian Advisers to provide training for local forces and saw the first members of the Australian Army Training Team arrive in Saigon late in 1962.

In 1965 this commitment was increased to an Infantry Battalion with some supporting elements. The battalion (1st Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment) was sent to Bien Hoa Province and attached to 173rd Infantry Brigade. They were tied to the US Forces for all their logistic and medical support. They conducted operations in support of US operations. In Australia, (conscription) The National Service Act was introduced in July 1965. All 19 year olds were required to register for call-up on their 20th birthdays.

In 1965 this commitment increased to two battalions (and later three battalions) and a Task Force Headquarters which established itself at Nui Dat in Phouc Tuy Province. The Task Force also provided Armoured and Artillery support (including a battery of NZ Artillery and two companies of NZ Infantry). A Special Air Service Squadron, engineers and a squadron of RAAF Helicopters. The RAN provided transport and offshore naval gunfire support. The Viet Cong were fully in control of this Province when it was taken over by the Australians.

In total 63,745 were drafted into service and of those 19,450 overseas, providing one third of the entire force sent to Vietnam. 215 National Servicemen were killed in Vietnam out of a total of 521.

Vietnam was a war without fronts. It was a conflict of counter insurgency, fought among a civilian population. The military historian (Major) John McNeill, wrote that Vietnam placed Australian men into longer periods of risk of contact with the enemy than at any time in Australia's history since Gallipoli.

When the war ended for Australia in Vietnam in 1973 Phouc Tuy Province was fully controlled by the Australians and equally avoided by the Viet Cong and NVA.

This plaque signifies the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan on 18th August 1966

[Illustration of service personnel in Vietnam using artillery; illustration of a helicopter in battle]

Plaque 10


The Kokoda Track is a single-file trail from Owen's Corner to Kokoda which twists through 96 km of rugged and isolated terrain. The track passes through the Owen Stanley Range with its highest point being 2,250 metres at Mount Bellamy.

On this track the Australian troops fought against the Japanese Imperial Army and inflicted the Japanese with their first defeat in 1943. The Australians fought through many obstacles such as hot, humid days, intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and tropical diseases like malaria.

Defeating the Japanese on the Kokoda Track was one of the vital elements which saved Australia from invasion in World War II. But it was the nature of the fighting and the resolution of the Australian defenders which made it one of the heroic episodes in Australian history.

During the four months of fighting in the Owen Stanley Ranges, the Australian troops lost 607 men and 1015 were wounded.

Artwork by: Kelly Sheath Year 10

Written by: Daina Waugh Year 10

[Artwork representing Australia's involvement on the Kokoda Track by Kelly Sheath]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; St Josephs College Tweed Heads emblem]

Plaque 11


[Illustration of four service medals associated with National Service]

In 1909, the Federal Government of Prime Minister Alfred Deakin introduced legislation for a form of conscription for boys from 12 to 14 years of age and for youths from 18 to 20 years of age for the purposes of home defence. The legislation did not allow soldiers to be conscripted for overseas service.

Compulsory military service for duty within Australia was revived in 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. There was to be no conscription for service overseas, but instead, in a bill passed in February 1943, "Australia" was defined in such a way as to include New Guinea and the adjacent islands. This obliged soldiers in the Citizen Military Force (CMF) to serve in this region, known as the South-West Pacific Area.

Compulsory military training was brought back in 1951 by the Liberal Government as the National Service Scheme. The scheme was criticised as being irrelevant to modern defence needs, and for being a drain on the Regular Army's finances and manpower. In 1959 the scheme was abolished. National Service was re-introduced in 1964, and in May 1965 the Liberal government introduced new powers that enabled it to send national servicemen to serve overseas. There were many misconceptions held that NS was started to provide soldiers for the war in Vietnam but that was fallacious. Cabinet took the decision to commence National Service in 1964 before any commitment was made to Vietnam—National Service was designed to combat 'aggressive communist developments in Asia' and in fact it wasn't until 1965 that National Servicemen were legislated to fight in units in Vietnam—initially National servicemen were to swell the troops on the home front whilst regulars were engaged overseas.

There were 2 call ups each year initially consisting of 81 birth dates but later increasing, in 1968, to 84 to make allowances for all those who deferred, resisted, hid, fled, got married etc and allowed the Army to build to the 37,500 they were seeking. No women were conscripted. From 1965 to 1972, 19,381 national servicemen served in the Vietnam War, with 210 killed and 1,279 wounded. The National Service Scheme was abolished on 5 December 1972 by the newly elected Labor government.

This plaque was generously donated by members of the 11th Intake National Service - February 2018 on the occasion of their 50th anniversary

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 12


United Nations

Assistance Mission in Rwanda II:

August 1994–August 1995

[Map of Rwanda]

The central African country of Rwanda is a small, landlocked country about two-fifths the size of Tasmania. Its population of about seven million is divided into two main ethnic groups - the Tutsi and Hutu. In 1990 the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), mainly Tutsis, invaded Rwanda from Uganda beginning a three year civil war among the Tutsi and Hutu. In August 1993 a power sharing agreement resulted in a joint Tutsi-Hutu government which broke down [with April 6] killing of Rwanda's president when his plane was shot down. Hutu extremists seized control and instigated genocide. 

In three months from April to July 800,000, mostly Tutsi, were brutally massacred. Capturing Kigall and other major centres the RPF "won the civil war" and invited the UN to assist in stabilising the situation.

In May 1994 UNAMIR II was established to "secure and protect" all those at risk. Australia agreed to deploy a medical contingent of 308 members, including a medical company, an infantry company, four Armoured Personnel Carriers, and logistic and engineering support team arriving in Rwanda in August 1994. The second contingent of 308 took over in February 1995 serving until August 1995.

On 19 April 1995, 32 Australian soldiers and medics were sent to Kibeho Internally Displaced Persons camp to assist refugees. Controlled by Hutu genociders, supplies of food and water were cut off and the Rwanda Patriotic Army had been ordered to close it. This resulted in a violent massacre with the RPA killing 4000 and injuring 600 in full view of the Australian and Zambian UN troops.

Under UNAMIR's mandate the Australian peacekeepers could have intervened but, hugely outnumbered, faced certain death had they tried. The Australian medical team worked tirelessly to cope with the volume of wounded many of whom were evacuated to the Australian Hospital.

This plaque was generously provided by the Tweed Heads Historical Society Inc.

A community facility of Tweed Shire Council.

[Tweed Heads Historical Society Inc. emblem]

Plaque 13

1942 BATTLE AT BUNA 1943

The Papuan village of Buna was the main base for the Japanese advance along the Kokoda Track. Major fighting did not occur at Buna until the Japanese had advanced and then retreated along the Kokoda Track. 

The 18th Australian Brigade and a squadron of tanks from the 2/6th Armoured Regiment were moved up from Milne Bay in mid-December 1942 to reinforce the American 32nd Division. By this time Buna village had been captured. The 2/10th battalion made a series of attacks along the old airstrip between 24th and 29th December.

Victory at Buna came with a pause in operations to allow the reinforcement of tanks and the replacement of the tired and depleted 2/10th by the fresh 2/12th battalion.

They attacked on the morning of the 1st January 1943 and, with the tanks and infantry cooperating closely, destroyed the bulk of the Japanese positions before nightfall.

The Battle for Buna cost the Allied forces 2,870 casualties, the 18th Brigade had lost 306, with 557 wounded.

[Map of Port Moresby and Buna in relation to Australia's coast]

This plaque commemorates the contribution of men and women of South Sea Island heritage to the defence of Australia.

[R.S.L. Veterans Retirement Villages New South Wales emblem; Cudgen Public School emblem]

Designed by: Lucas Wayne, Jay Varudo

Plaque 14


An Unequalled Record 470,000 miles steamed during her war service, 22 enemy ships captured.

The Kanimbla began her war service on October 1939 when she was commissioned into the Royal Navy.

1940 and 1941 spent patrolling in waters off China and Japan followed by escort duties around Malaysia and the East Indies.

Kanimbla escorted the first convoy out of Singapore after the Japanese attack in Malaysia. In the early hours of June 1, 1942 she fired on one of the Japanese midget submarines attacking Sydney Harbour. In June 1943 she became HMAS Kanimbla after being converted to a Landing Ship Infantry (LSI). She was pivotal in ensuring successful landings in New Guinea at Morotai and Leyte.

Landing troops on Luzon Island in Lingayen Gulf she was narrowly missed by a zero fighting bomber which was shot down.

Kanimbla was also part of the invasion of Brunei before supporting the final amphibious landing of the war at Balikpapan.

She continued her transport duties in New Guinea and Philippine waters for the remainder of the war.

Kanimbla was instrumental in saving Australia from invasion.

[Illustration of the H.M.S. / H.M.A.S. Kanimbla]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Kingscliff Public School emblem]

Text composed by Class 5M Kingscliff Public School 2009. Art Work by Jacob Ryan.

Story inspired by Chloe Hampton's great grandad who served on HMS/HMAS Kanimbla as a Leading Stoker (Chloe a 5M student in 2008)

Plaque 15


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have served in Australia's armed forces since Federation with at least three men serving in the colonial naval and military forces of Victoria and New South Wales before 1901. A small number of indigenous men (10–12) are known to have served during the Boer War in South Africa.

The First World War (1914–18) exempted full-blooded indigenous Australians from general enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force however between 1000–1200 men with proven indigenous heritage were accepted for enlistment with approximately 700 of these being sent overseas. Two female Australian indigenous nurses were also amongst those accepted for overseas service.

During the Second World War Australia raised a Second AIF in which many indigenous men duly enlisted and have been identified in campaigns in the Western Desert, Greece, Crete and Syria. After Japan's entry into the war indigenous service continued in south-east Asian and south-west Pacific theatres along with Malaya, Singapore, Papua and New Guinea, Bouganville and Borneo. It was during the Second World War that other services began accepting recruits of indigenous heritage (RAN and RAAF).

The Second World War saw the acceptance into the military of indigenous women for each of the services and the Australian Women's Land Army which maintained the nation's agricultural production.

Indigenous Australians have served in every conflict since including Peacekeeping Operations and Military Reserves. These include the British Occupation Force Japan, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam (including the Australian Army Training Team and Special Air Services), Iran, Iraq, Timor, L'Este, Afghanistan and Peace Keeping operations all over the world.

In 1980s Defence formed three major formations for regional force surveillance as part of the Army Reserve. These formations comprised largely, even dominantly indigenous Australians (NORFORCE), The Pilbara Regiment and the 51st Battalion (Far North Queensland Regiment). Although lacking the numbers, RAN and RAAF are equally committed to maintaining a proportion of their workforce representative of indigenous numbers in Australian Society

[Illustration of Lieutenant Reg Saunders]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 16


[Illustration of an Australian peacekeeper carrying a wounded person]

Australia was a founding member of the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and has been actively engaged in the organisation since its formation. The UN is seen by the Australian Government as a means to influence events which directly affect Australia's interests but over which they have little unilateral control.

Australians were the first peacekeepers to serve under United Nations auspices when they sent military observers to Indonesia in 1947 during the independence struggle. About 65,000 Australian personnel have partaken in more than fifty peacekeeping operations, in about 25 different conflicts. Operations include military observation, monitoring ceasefires, clearing landmines, humanitarian aid and the repatriation of refugees.

More that 3,500 Australians are currently serving in peace and security operations including our continuous participation in the Middle East and Cyprus.

Forty-eight Australians have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during non-warlike and peacekeeping operations. Last year, as a lasting tribute to their service, their names were added in the Australian War Memorial honour roll.

Australians have joined peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Korea, Namibia, Rwanda and Somalia among others. All three services of the Australia Defence Force as well as police officers and civilians, have been in peacekeeping activities.

The most significant recent involvement from Australian peacekeeping troops is in the newly formed country of East Timor. Australia have initially offered between 1,000 and 1,300 infantry, three Royal Australian Navy ships (HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla already stationed nearby and HMAS Tobruk) along with other support capabilities. Australia also has peacekeepers from the Australian Defence Force participating in the United Nations mission in Sudan, to support the African Union's Mission in Darfur.

The dedication of this plaque was made possible by a kind donation by the Centrelink Call Centre Social Club at Tweed Heads South

[Australian Peacekeepers & Peacemaker Veterans' Association Inc. emblem; Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 17


Many people believe that men were the only people involved in war, but a major part of the war was fought by women, both on the home front and in war service.

Australian women worked hard on the home front. They sent food, clothes and blankets to the soldiers. Many women, as young as 13, were sent to work in factories to make things like optical sights for guns. Other male jobs got handed over to the women such as: office working, teaching, shop keeping and managing the farms.

Some people believed that women should only help with supplies and needs at home. As more men were needed in combat women volunteered. Women served in many different services such as Australian Army Nursing, Women's Australian Auxiliary Air force, Women's Royal Australian Naval Service, Australian Women's Army Service, Australian Women's Land Army and the Australian Army Medical Women's Service. The women's jobs included operating search lights to track incoming threats, driving trucks and using morse code to send information. Hearing the stories of the women who have been associated with War has taught us what a hard and enjoyable time it was, the true meaning of friendship and how fortunate we are today. Today the role of women in the services and in the community has changed completely.

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Murwillumbah East Public School emblem]

Plaque 18


Kingscliff RSL Women's Auxiliary was founded in September, 1947 and since that time countless members have worked continuously, many times under most adverse conditions, to raise funds in support of our esteemed Returned Services Personnel. The Auxiliary has catered for various and multiple occasions, not the least of which are ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day and Vietnam Veterans's/Long Tan Day.

Over the years and continuing, the magnificent sum of $100,000 has been provided to assist our cause. Our numbers are fewer but the dedication remains and we hope to continue providing this service well into the future.

Plaque 19


4–8th May 1942

In January 1942 the Japanese forces continued their push south with the purpose of capturing Port Moresby and the Solomon Island Group. Rabual was an important support base for the capture operation and was known as Operation R by the Japanese. Japan secured the territory of the Caroline Islands which was selected as the site of the Imperial Japanese Navy Base on the Island of Truk. As the list of military defeats and reversals for the Australian, British, American and Dutch military and naval forces began to mount, the feeling within the general populace of Australia was one of depression and a general expectation that the Japanese would invade at any moment.

In May 1942, the Japanese decided to invade and occupy Port Moresby and Tulagi in the Southern Solomon Islands. Australia was involved in the battle from the very first when locally-based signals intelligence units made a significant contribution to the early detection of the Japanese thrust. Aerial reconnaissance flights were flown from Australia and Port Moresby by USAAF and RAAF aircraft. Eleven US submarines based in Brisbane were deployed to the Papua area. The U.S. sent two United States Navy carrier task forces and a joint Australian-American cruiser force to oppose the offensive. The battle is historically significant as the first action in which aircraft carriers engaged each other.

On 3–4 May, Japanese forces successfully invaded and occupied Tulgai, although several of their supporting warships were sunk or damaged in surprise attacks by aircraft from the U.S. fleet carrier Yorktown. Now aware of the presence of U.S. carriers in the area, the Japanese fleet carriers advanced towards the Coral Sea. Beginning on 7 May, the carrier forces from the two sides engaged in airstrikes over two consecutive days. On the first day, the U.S. sank the Japanese light carrier Shono; meanwhile, the Japanese sank a U.S. destroyer and heavily damaged a fleet oiler. The next day, the Japanese fleet carrier Shokaku was heavily damaged, the U.S. fleet carrier Lexington was critically damaged (and later scuttled), and Yorktown damaged. With heavy losses in aircraft and carrier damaged or sunk, the two forces disengaged and retired from the battle area.

The Battle of Coral Sea marked a major turning point in the Pacific War because it effectively stopped the Japanese advance to the south towards Australia.

This plaque was generously provided by Mr Colin and Mrs Helen Withey of Kingscliff.

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 20


Between 1962 and 1966 Indonesia and Malaysia fought a small, undeclared war which came to involve troops from Australia and Britain.

The actual war began when Indonesia launched a series of cross-border raids into Malaysian territory in early 1963. 

Australian units which fought during the confrontation did so as part of a larger British and Commonwealth force under overall British command.

The first Australian Battalion, 3 RAR arrived in Borneo in March 1965 and served in Sarawak until the end of July. During this time the battalion conducted extensive operations on both sides of the border. 4 RAR, also served in Sarawak - from April until August 1966 and were involved in clashes with the Indonesian Army.

Continuing negotiations between Indonesia and Malaysia ended the conflict, and the two sides signed a peace treaty in Bangkok in August 1966. Because of the sensitivity of the cross-border operations, which remained secret at the time, the confrontation received very little coverage in the Australian press.

[Map of Indonesia]

This plaque commemorates the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women to the defence of Australia.

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; Cudgen Public School emblem]

Designed by: Amber Gilbert; Danielle Williams

Plaque 21


May 29th

3.00 am - Japanese subs arrive outside Sydney Heads. 

May 30th

4.00 am - Japanese sent float plane over Sydney Harbour. 

6.30 am - Due to fog float plane capsized. 

May 31st

5.25 pm - 3 midget submarines are launched. 

9.48 pm - 1st midget submarine caught in boom net.

10.35 pm - 2nd submarine enters the Harbour undetected following a ferry.

10.52 pm - 1st submarine self destructs.

11.03 pm - USS Chicago spots 2nd submarine

11.14 pm - 3rd submarine attacked by HMAS Yandra but didn't sink.

June 1st

12.25 am - Blackout. Garden Island Island flood lights turned off. 

12.35 am- 2nd sub fires on USS Chicago but misses target by 4 metres and hits the "Kattabul". 

1.30am - 2nd midget got out of the harbour but ran out of fuel just outside Sydney Head and sank. It was found in 2006. 

2.56 am - USS Chicago sights the 3rd sub. 

3.50 am - "Kanimbla" shoots the 3rd sub down and is blown to the surface.

5.00am - 3rd sub is blown to the surface.

They came into the harbour

To everyone's surprise

The 21 that died that day

May they R.I.P. where they lay

In memory of those who went down with The Kattabul

[Map of Sydney Harbour, indicating where submarines were found]

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; St Joseph's Primary School Tweed Heads emblem]

Designed by: Lizzie Boyle, Sienna van Rossum & Scarlet Styles

Plaque 22


[Returned & Services League Australia emblem; St Anthony's Catholic Primary School Kingscliff emblem]

The Korean War started on 25th June, 1959 and ended on 27the July, 1953. The War was fought between the North Koreans/China and the UN Forces/South Korea. It was a fight against communism. The F-85 Sabre Jet was first used during the Korean War and mobile Army Surgical Hospitals were introduced. Korea was called "The Forgotten War" because it was overshadowed by World War II and Kokoda. 17,000 Australian troops served in this war. Approximately 339 Australian servicemen were killed and 1700 wounded. 423 Australian were declared MIA and 390 were taken as POWs.



Jan 12: South Korea excluded from US Defence Perimeter in Asia.

June 25: North Korea invades. Seoul overrun.

July–Aug: UN forces retreat South.

Sep 3rd: Battalion RAR committed.

Sep 10th: North Korea offensive halted at Psan.

Sep 15: Inchon landings begin.

Sep 27 Seoul liberated.

Oct 7: UN forces push north across the 38th parallel.

Nov 26: China enters war. UN forces pushed back.


March 15: Seoul again retaken by UN forces.

22–25th Apr: 3RAR assists 27 Bde to halt the Chinese spring offensive at Kapyong.


1st Battalion RAR enters war.


2nd Battalion RAR enters war. Truce agreement signed. Prisoner of war exchange begins.

[Illustration of a Dakota plane]


Dakota planes were used during the war because of their versatility. Their main use was transport and mail. Dakotas were used to carry 6,000 tons of freight and mail. 100,000 passengers and 12,270 casualties to hospital in Japan.


The Royal Australian Air Force 77 Fighter Squadron was the first to engage the enemy in Korea. It was awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for meritorious services and heroism.


The Royal Australia Navy committed 11 ships to Korean Waters plus Fleet Air Arm 806, 808 and 817 Squadrons. Our ships formed part of the US 7th Fleet and were awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation by the President of South Korea.

Milly Keogh, Cherie Bahnsen, Jacob Bosanac, Finn Wallington, Yr 6 2011.

Plaque 23


25th August–7th September 1942

[Map of Papua New Guinea]

This battle was known as Operation RE or the Battle of Rabi by the Japanese and was designed as part of the push to capture Port Moresby. Elite Japanese naval troops, known as Kalgun Tokubetsu Rikusental (Special Naval Landing Forces), with two small tanks attacked the Allied airfields at Milne Bay that had been established on the eastern tip of New Guinea. Due to poor intelligence work, the Japanese miscalculated the size of the predominantly Australian garrison and, believing that the airfields were only defended by two or three companies, initially landed a force roughly equivalent in size to one battalion on 25 August 1942. The allies, forewarned by intelligence had heavily reinforced the garrison.

The Japanese quickly pushed inland and began their advance towards the airfields. Heavy fighting followed as they encountered the Australia Militia troops that formed the first line of defence. These troops were steadily pushed back, but the Australians brought forward veteran Second Australian Imperial Force units that the Japanese had not expected. Allied air superiority helped tip the balance, providing close support to troops in combat and targeting Japanese logistics. Finding themselves heavily outnumbered, lacking supplies and suffering heavy casualties, the Japanese withdrew their forces, with fighting coming to an end on 7 September 1942.

This battle is often described as the first major battle of the war in the Pacific in which Allied troops decisively defeated Japanese land forces. Although Japanese land forces had experienced local setbacks elsewhere in the Pacific earlier in the war, unlike at Milne Bay, these actions had not forced them to withdraw completely and abandon their strategic objective. Nor did they have such a profound impact upon the morale aspect of the war. Milne Bay showed the limits of Japanese capability to expand using relatively small forces in the face of increasingly large Allied troop concentrations and command of the air. As a result of the battle, Allied morale was boosted and Milne Bay was developed into a major Allied base, which was used to mount subsequent operations in the region.

This plaque was generously donated to the memorial walkway by Mark and Judy Eglinton and family of Cudgen.

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 24



[Map of the Western Front]

The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.

In March 1916, four Australian Divisions arrived in France from Egypt. They were deployed on the Western Front, two opposing trench lines stretching 700 kilometres from the Belgium coast through France to the Swiss Border. Another Division arrived from Australia later that year.

The Western Front was the major front of the First World War. Australians fought in some key battles including Fromelles, Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in 1916 and Bullecourt, Messines, Menin Road, Passchendaele and Viller-Bretonneux in 1917. Losses were heavy and gains were small. The Australian Flying Corps and Army nurses also served as part of the Australian Imperial Force.

In March and April 1918 Australians were successful in defence against the German Spring Offensive and in the battle of Hamel on 4 July, under Lieutenant General John Monash. From 8 August they took part in some decisive advances until relieved in early October. Germany surrendered on 11 November.

Australia's losses were staggering, with more casualties in the first six weeks than the entire Gallipoli campaign. More than 295,000 Australians served on the Western Front, with 46,000 deaths and 132,000 wounded. 55 Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Lest we forget

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 25



[Map of Gallipoli Peninsula]

The Gallipoli peninsula is in Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles strait to the east.

The aim of the Gallipoli campaign was to force Germany's ally, Turkey, out of the war. The Allies naval attack on Ottoman forts at the Dardanelles entrance in February 1915 failed and agreement was reached that land forces be used.

At dawn on 25 April 1915, Australian and New Zealand troops landed north of Gaba Tepe, late named Anzac Cove, one of two Allied landings to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula. The Turks resisted and attacks and counter attacks continued in May.

August saw coordinated Allied attacks to break out of Anzac. On 6 August the Australians launched a diversionary attack at Lone Pine. A new British landing at Suvla Bay included some Royal Australian Naval personnel, Australian light horsemen, as foot soldiers, attacked The Nek on 7 August, another costly diversion.

The offensive failed and the stalemate resumed. The Gallipoli campaign was abandoned and Australians withdrew from Anzac and Suvla Bay in December 1915. There were 28,000 casualties and 8,709 deaths among the 50,000 (plus) Australians. Nine Victoria Crosses were awarded, seven for Lone Pine.

Lest we forget

[Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Plaque 26


In appreciation of the Tweed Shire Council and the Tweed Dune Care Group for the construction of this memorial walkway and surrounds with the Kingscliff RSL Sub Branch as custodians and Kingscliff Lions Club as supporters

[Illustration of Ivan Mackay; illustration of Mavis Gilmore]

1st October 2013

Ivan and Mavis worked tirelessly from 1994 to convince the Tweed Shire Council of the need for a concrete walkway from Murphy's Road to a viewing platform overlooking the ocean this would serve the local Wommin Bay Nursing Home as a venue for non-ambulant patients and residents to view the sea. The eventual acceptance of the project saw a [illeg.] alliance formed between the Tweed Shire Council, the Nursing Home (now named Feros Village Wommin Bay) and the Department of Veteran's Affairs. The Tweed Dune Care Group offered to provide advice on the landscaping and care for the maintenance of the vegetation. The RSL agreed to be custodians and the Lions Club continued their long-standing support. The project received formal approval in 2007 and was opened by General Peter Cosgrove on 26th April 2007. It has been a wonderful success.

[Feros Care logo; Tweed Shire Council emblem; Returned & Services League Australia emblem]

Veterans listed on this memorial

Veterans listed on this memorial

Last held rank Given name Family name Conflict/s Service No. Service Campaign Read more
Lieutenant Reginald Saunders Second World War, 1939–45 337678 (VX12843) Australian Army - Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) view

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Cnr Murphy's Road and McKissock Drive
Kingscliff NSW 2487
Local Government Area
Tweed Shire
Location status
Original location
Memorial type
Recorded by
Graham Wilson
Year of construction
Dedication date
26 April 2007
South African War (Boer War), 1899–1902
First World War, 1914–18
Second World War, 1939–45
Occupation of Japan, 1946–51
Korean War, 1950–53
Malayan Emergency, 1950–60
Indonesian Confrontation, 1963–66
Vietnam War, 1962–75
Iraq: the First Gulf War, 1990–91
Afghanistan, 2001–present
Iraq: the Second Gulf War, 2003–09
Peacekeeping, 1947–present
All conflicts