Deborah Wheeler has self-published a loving tribute to her grandfather in the children’s picture book My Pop was a Kangaroo ANZAC (2018). In 1915, her grandfather William (‘Bill’) James Wheeler, set off from Wagga Wagga on the Kangaroo March almost 600 kms to Sydney to prepare to fight overseas.
Fed and entertained by families in towns along the way, the Kangaroo recruits – an entirely rural contingent – arrived in Sydney on 7 January 1916 after a journey of 38 days. There they completed basic military training and were issued supplies for the next stage of their mission. They set sail in April 1916 for France, via England. There were other such recruitment marches around the country, including the Kookaburras (from Tooraweenah to Bathurst), the Waratahs (Nowra to Sydney) and The Men From Snowy River (Delegate to Goulburn).
This book would be an ideal resource for primary school students studying the ANZACs and Australia’s World War One history. It is brimming with well-researched information and contains many interesting anecdotal facts and stories about the Kangaroos, and about what life was like for people of Bill’s generation, and facts and statistics about the reality of their situation. This is also a personal story about one man and his family, and about the sacrifice he undertook by serving our country. It includes photographs, a poem, copies of correspondence, lists of men who served, and a useful glossary of terms (great for younger readers). The book features illustrations by the author and by Lauren Hakala.
I know that this aspect of history is included in the primary school curriculum, and also that many younger readers are fascinated to hear about the lives and circumstances of the ANZACs 100 years ago.