A major project for the Granite Belt has been developed to honour the returned men and their wives from WW1 at Cottonvale near Stanthorpe. This will be the most inclusive monument to the soldier settlers, and certainly the first time in Australia that the wives of the returned soldiers have been recognised and honoured. The returned men were not treated as the heroes they were.
These men who fought for our freedom took their families onto bush blocks, cleared, fenced, built bark huts (or humpies) and believed that if they followed their training and worked hard they could build a family farm to pass on to their sons. Many of the men were permanently injured physically, all of the men were mentally scarred for life. The scheme included allocating land to men who had lost an arm or a leg, many others had been gassed or had shrapnel left in wounds. By the end of 1922 further government support was considered unnecessary by the politicians.
Living in bark huts (sometimes for years) and helping to build this nation, these men have been ignored or taken for granted - but not anymore.
The walkway of named pavers in memory of all returned men and their wives, Bush Nurses, Land Army, QCWA, Red Cross and VAD from all conflicts, will lead up to the plinth where the soldier settler, his wife and child stand alongside their horse so necessary to clear the virgin bush and plough the land for farming. This walkway represents the purpose built branch railway line that transported fruit and vegetables to the markets in Brisbane. Replica railway signs will be installed alongside the walkway. The monument and park will include a granite structure built in the manner of the Stanthorpe War Memorial.
When Mortgage payments could not be made whether due to illness, inexperience, poor soil, drought or pests the returned soldier must have believed he had failed his family. Children were often hungry, and the whole family destitute before they walked away. The scheme beat them. They were not lazy or dishonest. If just one member of your group were to forward this information to others and those likewise forward it on to their friends we would see the grapevine work its magic.
This will be the most complete monument to soldier settlers; certainly the only one giving recognition to the families.
The monument and park will include a granite structure built in the style of the Stanthorpe War Memorial. The plinth will overlook the walkway, designed to emulate the railway line. Because many of the men were permanently wounded, great care has been taken to ensure those less able now can get onto the plinth, be photographed with, and examine the detail, of each sculpture.