Mathoura Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens
A town salutes its fighters.
Mathoura residents, filled with patriotic fervour, built this park after World War 1 to honour fallen soldiers from the Murray Shire.
Troops who survived were welcomed home with a formal dinner and presented with gold watches. The families of those who died were given large commemorative plaques. But the town wanted a public memorial and decided on a park.
The Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens were established by the Mathoura branch of the returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. These gardens, monument and rotunda were funded entirely by the local community – the land donated by Mr Gus Reinkowsky – but they were later handed over to the Murray Shire which continues to maintain then today.
There were no big government grants back then and for a small community it was a truly monumental effort. Raising the funds took most of the inter-war period, with the stone memorial finally unveiled in 1934. But it was several more years before funds were raised for the names of the fallen to be engraved. By then it was almost time to add names from World War 2.
During one period of austerity the garden’s curator was given approval to sell cut flowers, the proceeds being used to buy more flower seeds and other gardening needs.
Some years ago the time-ravaged rotunda faced demolition until it was recalled that the structure itself was another memorial to the fallen, at which point it was restored by the Murray Shire.