What dreams they carried off
those sons and brothers, fathers, uncles
twenty thousand hearts squeezed to fists
as summer unwound beneath the Southern Cross
they sought Heaven’s Light to guide them north
through Suez to Gallipoli
where even eucalyptus oil could not medicate
shattered souls, nor eradicate the pain.
n.b. April is marked on the Australian calendar by ANZAC Day, (25th April), a day set aside to remember the sacrifices made in World War One by Australian, Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal and New Zealand people.
New Railway Pier saw the first departures of volunteer soldiers in the Australian Imperial Force who travelled to Europe in October, 1914 to fight in that war.
This liminal setting then witnessed the hospital ships returning from Southampton, of which the last departure from England was delayed by the 1919 Spanish ‘Flu pandemic.
After those terrible events the pier became the arrival point for many emigrants from war-torn Europe, who saw more hopeful prospects on southern shores.
Now known as Princes Pier, this is indisputably an in-between place.