To commemorate the mine closure, one hundred and seventy ex-Radium Hill residents and family members made the pilgrimage back to their former home town to take part in the planned festivities.
They arrived from Scotland and all states of Australia. The weather was perfect. Leith Singe, an eighty one year old ex-Radium Hill and Luxemburg miner traveled by bus, hitch-hiked and walked, carrying his swag all the way from Lightning Ridge in N.S.W. His swag only weighed 35kg. Historic commemorative plaques were unveiled on the Saturday morning including one which was unveiled by a former nursing Sister who had worked at the Radium Hill A.I.M. Hospital. This plaque was inscribed with the name and birth date of the one hundred and seventeen babies who were born in the Hospital between 1953 and 1961. At noon, the ashes of five former residents were laid to rest in the Radium Hill Pioneers Cemetery. Andy Treloar launched Kevin Kakoschke's social/mining history book of the North-eastern Goldfields, titled, ?Women of Gold?. A Doctor and six nursing Sisters were on hand to treat any emergencies. You can never tell when such a large number of people, many elderly, are gathered in such an isolated spot. The Royal Flying Doctor service was only a phone call away and an airstrip was within striking distance.
Barry and Sylvia Kakoschke celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary which took place exactly fifty years ago to the day when living in Radium Hill. The roofless Church was packed out and every window and doorway was filled with faces. Even the confession booths were full. Under an azure blue sky studded with white cotton ball clouds, they re-affirmed their wedding vowels in "Our Lady Queen of the World" Catholic Church ruins where Sylvia promised not to obey. The medical brigade was not needed. The bride was given away by her grandson, Cameron Underdown. The wedding reception was followed by the cutting of the Anniversary cake, an auction, raffle and then the night air was rent asunder by the theme tune of ?Priscilla, Queen of the Desert? heralding the arrival of Priscilla perched high on the top of a Nissan Patrol wagon. A huge glittering head dress designed by June Kakoschke, a three metre flowing veil and an array of sparkling lights bordering the ?Queen? was captured for posterity by the flashing cameras. The 'Ghost Town Cabaret' got off to a flying start with the high kicking ?Can Can Girls? weaving through the crowd. Singers, dancers and a host of entertaining acts captivated the audience. The night?s entertainment concluded with a huge fireworks extravaganza donated by Karen Kakoschke and supervised by fire fighters and a pyrotechnic technician.
Sunday, the ?Pom?s v?s the Aussies? cricket match saw the local boys defeated with the Radium Hill Cricket Embers trophy heading off shore. A Tag-a-long tour proved to be both exhilarating and exciting when vehicles slipped and slid on the muddy banks of Gall?s Well creek. Sandra Dumont spent the afternoon creating a beautiful wreath from the surrounding native vegetation to be used at the Anzac Day Dawn Service. Movies, sing-a-longs, dampers and drinks ended an exciting day.
ANZAC DAY DAWN SERVICE
On Monday morning, 25 April, 2011, and just before six am or 'picaninny dawn', the track leading to the Radium Hill Pioneer Cemetery was lit with "glow worm like" twin beams of light piercing the dust laden air as the convoy of four wheel drives slowly made their way to the Cemetery for the Anzac Day Dawn Service. The flag was limp at half mast above the one hundred and one strong crowd gathered for the Remembrance service to honour those who had served their country and for those who fell in the theatres of war. Many from the surrounding pastoral stations including James Treloar, Wadnaminga, James Morgan, Outalpa and Andy Treloar,Tikalina made the journey to be with us for the occasion. More than 356 ex-Radium Hill men and women had served in the armed forces of their countries. Exploits of Phillip Davies and Reg Inwood who had received Victoria Crosses in the first World War, Guido Moderianno the French Madaille Militaire and two Croix de Guerres, Franz Kannermann the Iron Cross First Class, and other award recipients were read out by Pam Barratt. Geoff Parker conducted the ceremony where 'Reveille' and the 'Last Post' were played along with the laying of Sandra's Anzac Day wreath by Trevor Morrison. The raising of the flag concluded a most moving Anzac Day Dawn Service.
Back at the camp site the fires had been stoked for hot tea and coffee followed by the traditional 'Gunfire breakfast' and a rum 'chaser'. The bacon and eggs on a slice of toast were cooked to a turn by the "Bush Super Chefs", Wolf Fellegger, Rod Lawrence and June Kakoschke, 10/10. Trevor and John Morrison ably supported by Keith Jones, Pauline Harratt and team, made sure that those visiting the reception tent went away with a full cup of beverage plus an additive to warm the cockles of their hearts.
A 'tag-a-long' to the old Luxemburg gold and copper mines in the afternoon was an adventure. Along the way Kevin Kakoschke demonstrated water divining at Gall's Well with a couple of pieces of wire. Some found it hard to believe. At the mine ruins, Leith Singe explained the 'leaching of copper process' where he and Lea Brown were the biggest producers of copper for South Australia in 1956. They produced 11/4tons. Kevin told some stories of the early mining families from his recently released book, Women of Gold'. The group was glad that they didn't experience the harsh conditions as those of their forebears. An evening of song and tales around the campfire before enjoying a damper supper concluded a most extraordinary holiday week end.
Tuesday, and the workers had to return to the grind while those in the grey-power brigade were able to linger a little longer before they too had to make their way home. A week-end of friendship and entertainment had come to an end, but memories of it will last forever.
Kevin Kakoschke OAM