20 September, 2020
Local Heroes Honoured at Lake Tinaroo
AS the sun began to set on another perfect day in the Atherton Tablelands, I started my short journey down the Avenue of Honour, a living memorial on the shores of the tranquil Lake Tinaroo, near Yungaburra.
The chill of the late winter breeze setting in gave me an added sense of loss, as I learned about Ben Chuck, a local Atherton lad 27 years old, who gave his life fighting in Afghanistan.
Walking the sand-coloured path which reflects the endless dunes of the Middle East, you are flanked by an honour guard of Flame trees, standing at attention in silent vigil over those who walk in remembrance toward the central monument.
Each tree a living reminder of those that never returned home, but are still watching over us. The wingspan of the statue looms overhead at the central point of the Avenue, one wing visibly broken to symbolise the hardships and turmoil our defenders endure in the theatre of war, which is mounted upon a pillar of stone gathered from within a 20km radius of Camp Russell, Uruzgan.
Engraved on the base are the words: May their undaunted spirit soar with the angels forever
...and below reads…
Your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
An honour board stands adjacent to the central statue, commemorating the lives and sacrifice of the forty military personnel, as well as a trainee and a civilian, who died in the fight against terror in one of the worlds most unforgiving environments.
There is also a commemoration to the canine soldiers who gave their lives aiding and protecting their human compatriots. A memorial plaque for the fallen dogs of the Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD) and Special Operations Military Working Dogs (SOMWD) reads:
I question not your commands
I follow faithfully wherever you go
I pledge my loyalty no matter what
I share the danger of your domain
And will readily lay down my life for yours
For in this moment we are one
From the central monument, the journey heads westward toward the peaceful waters of Lake Tinaroo, and as the sun disappears over the mountains, it lends a bittersweet serenity to the loss of those brave souls who sacrificed everything for a home they would never come back to.
However, as families play in the water of the lake and celebrate their weekend, the memorial also has an air of joy and hope surrounding it. Immersed in the peace and natural beauty of this truly amazing and unique landscape, one cannot help but to feel a deep sense of gratitude for all those who helped protect and maintain our Australian way of life.
The Avenue of Honour is the perfect place to remember that ‘Lest We Forget’ should also mean ‘let not their sacrifice be in vain’, and is a must-see spot for everyone in Far North Queensland. So to pay your respects, or if you need a reminder of how many reasons we have to cherish life, then Lake Tinaroo should be your next weekend destination.