The Kookaburra March – Tooraweenah to Bathurst

The outbreak of war in August 1914 was greeted in Australia, as in many other places, with great enthusiasm. Young men went off to fight for King and Country, to have an adventure and to see the world. Some men enlisted because the pay was enough to support their families. So the recruitment drive was successful and the army was only picking the healthiest men to serve.

However, as the war went on, and Gallipoli claimed many lives, the casualty rates increased and the number of volunteers declined. It was against this background that the Hitchen brothers, Richard Hitchen, a butcher, and his brother William Thomas Hitchen, a plumber, thought of a plan which would encourage men to join the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF). The plan was to start in a country town and march to the city gathering recruits form the towns as they marched through. The original Recruitment March, named the Coo-ee March left Gilgandra in October 1915 with 35 men and arrived in Sydney with 263 recruits.

The Kookaburra March commenced in Tooraweenah on January 12, 1916 with 25 recruits. ‘Captain’ WT Hitchen assisted in organising the march as they travelled through Yarragrin, Mendooran, Dunedoo, Gulgong, Mudgee, Rydstone, Kandos, Capertee, Portland Yetholme and arrived in Bathurst on Friday February 3, 1916 with 92 men. The Boomerang marchers from Forbes and Parkes arrived at Bathurst at the same time with 202 men,

There was no official record of the names of the recruits who left Tooraweenah but a list was compiled from newspaper reports and information from descendants, by Roy Cameron for his book ‘The Kookaburra March through Mendooran and Dunedoo’ published in 1966.

BAKER Walter James Depot

BALDERSTON David Peter 2140

CHALSON Augustus 2502

CLEAVER William 1634

COOK William George 5663

DONNELLY James 5678

EDDY AW Unknown

FERGUSON Andrew 1639

FERGUSON Donald 5683


GOW David 1746

GROVE HC Unknown

HAYES Thomas Patrick 6128

HEDLEY Davidson 1640

KEEGAN Herbert 1643

KEEGAN Hilton 1642A

McNABB John Thomas 1644

McNAMARA W Unknown

MILLS Arthur Maeford 1702

MOORE William Donald 5054

O’CONNOR Patrick 1663

O’CONNOR Michael 1637

PEARSON Leslie 1750

RANSOME James 527

SMITH Harold 1668

WARREN Henry 2041

WARTLEY Michael Emmanuel John 2297


What Happened to the Tooraweenah Kookaburras

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