Vietnam Veterans Day 2003

Matt Lawson reports from Pandanas Park, Kalpowar Station, North Queensland

We had travelled from West Australia and headed to Pandanas Park, arriving on 18th June 2003.

Once we got our bearings, we headed out to Weipa via Musgrove Station. We spent 2 weeks at Weipa, checking the area out and enjoyed some great fishing.

Then we headed north along the old telegraph line to Pundson Bay, staying for a week and checking out Cape York ( the very most northern point of Australia). It was great to be there but there were no fish so after a week we headed back to Weipa for a rest and re-supply

Then it was back to Pandanas Park and north to Bathurst Heads.

Hell! Where are the fish!!

Had a shit off a time so we moved onto Cape Melville and the National Park. Once again the area was fished out, or the fish were on strike, and after 4 days we got the hebbie gebbies and headed south to Cooktown. It took us 11 hours to travel some 290km.

At Cooktown we re-supplied and had to do a suspension job on the trailer. While there, I contacted Lee Savage and met up for a few beers and a chin wag, before he headed of back to his plantation in the boonies.

4 days later still no fish
only wished we had an M79 just to prove that there was something in the water.

So! we headed back to Pandanas Park again and onto the Marriott River, which is tidal


We caught a good feed of grunter and crabs and lived like kings for 2 weeks.

After all the lazing around and sharing the area with some gruesome crocodiles we decided it was time to move on, as the area belonged to them.


Back at Pandanas Park and we hung around for another 2 weeks till Veterans Day settling in, meeting others who had made the trek, and swapping stories.

Veterans Day arrived and there were approx. 350 ex veterans including their partners from all over Aussie.

Veterans Day Service and Dedication was held at the memorial (for all veterans from WW1 through to Iraq) on this day. All those present attended the service that was conducted by Padre John Newman (from Atherton Nth Qld)

The dedication read out by the Padre was:

On Behalf of the Vietnam Veterans, gathered here today and of the many who are absent before God I dedicate this Memorial as a site, sacred to the memory of all the Australian Military personnel who served in the various wars, conflicts and peace keeping missions in which this nation has ever been involved.

After the service, there was a bit of revelry, with a good feed and drink and many tales told.

The RAEME Banner (it was paraded in Sydney for the 1987 Welcome Home March) was the centre of attraction during the gathering. We also met up with many other RAEME members that had travelled from, Victoria, West Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.