The Yungaburra Avenue of Honour 

Now in its 11th year, this important memorial event was again strongly supported by the local and regional veteran community with participants travelling from New Zealand and the Southern States.

THE day started with the attending riders mustering up around 9.30 am at the Harley Magic Dealership in Cairns, about 90 minutes ride from the small township of Yungaburra located in the Tablelands Region. Winding up the cool, twisting switchback ranges, the lengthy line of chrome and steel rumbled into the well-maintained location just outside the small northern township after midday.

The Yungaburra Avenue of Honour is a fitting tribute to our Veteran Community and its lakeside location offers many a place of reunion as well as silent reflection throughout the year. The Avenue follows the path of fallen Commando and local Yungaburra lad Ben Chuck’s ‘Carriage’ and symbolises the final journey home taken by The Fallen. The Memorial is thoughtfully laid out and is made up of three distinct elements. Firstly, the Carriage way is guarded by the silhouette of two diggers, one of which is that of Commando Ben Chuck; the second is the Honour Board and Winged Memorial, displaying the names of those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan; and the third element is the ‘Journey Home.’ The pathway facing the water, when using one of the first trees located to your right, will have you facing Afghanistan more than 10,000 km away.

The sounds of arriving bikes broke the mid-morning silence as members of the Cairn’s Chapter of The Patriots Australia led the way to the Memorial, the noise of their big twin engines drowning out the diesel whine of the two Defense Force Reconnaissance vehicles that rumbled along the road in escort.

In the six years that I have attended this service, it never ceases to amaze me the distance many will travel each year to pay their respects. Patriot Military Motorcycle members from Southern parts of Queensland make their way to Yungaburra, as do family members, some as far as South Australia were in attendance. It is some of the smaller events that occur that many may not be aware of that add something special to a day like this.

84-year-old Angelo Nucifora had served with the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in both Borneo 1966 and again in Vietnam in 1967. As these things happen, he crossed paths with Patriot’s Member Mad Max and expressed the idea that we would like to attend this year’s Memorial Service in Yungaburra. Within a very short period, that wish was granted with Patriot’s Member Sunshine flying up from Brisbane to Cairns to make sure this old warrior was there front and centre to commemorate his service in the company of other brothers-in-arms.

Among those to speak on the day, Patriots Australia National President David ‘Big Ted’ McHenry once again echoed a common theme heard from within the collective veteran community. “The veteran community relies heavily on mutual support of each other, the unwavering support of the families and, hopefully, the understanding of our communities,” he said. “As proven again and again, it is the support of our loved ones and the friends around that provide the opportunity for veterans to heal. Unfortunately, more often than not, the veterans have to fight a system that was designed to help them when it comes time for them to heal, an organisation that is complex and appears to believe that they can bury the veterans’ issues under procedure and paperwork focusing more on saving the dollar than helping those in need.”

Sadly, it is a theme that I have heard repeated at this and other memorials.

Those with wreaths were asked to come forward and lay them at the foot of the base of the large metal and chrome winged sculpture which featured stones carried from Tarin Kot, Afghanistan, and laid in at the base.

A lone Bugler from the 51st Battalion played The Last Post followed by a minute’s silence as those gathered bowed their heads.

I looked around at the crowd and to those people who proudly wore the ribbons and medals on their leather vests and wondered at the many stories behind each and every one. Some they might share their stories; some might share with only with a select few; some may go a whole lifetime and never be told.

One of the huge wings that mantled the memorial were deliberately made to look battle damaged. The artist who produced the Memorial did this to express that, despite suffering, the Spirit of Australian Service Personnel still endured and soared high above adversity. This was ringed by a steel band that held the words, ‘Your Service and Sacrifice Shall Never Be Forgotten’.

Lest we Forget.

Article submitted by Pyro.

Need Help? Open Arms is available to veterans and families: 1800 011046; 

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