Soil samples from the Central West honour state’s WW1 enlistees

The soil sample collected from Canowindra for the project.
The soil sample collected from Canowindra for the project.

First World War Diggers from Cowra and surrounding villages and towns are one step closer to being honoured in a stunning new public artwork at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney a key feature of the NSW Government’s Anzac Memorial Centenary Project.

Local surveyors have been key to ensuring the more than 1700 home towns of enlistees are included in the memorial through the soil collection project.

The Soil Collection Program was a collaboration between DFSI Spatial Services, the NSW Office for Veterans Affairs and the Geographical Names Board of NSW (GNB).

The program recruited hundreds of public participants to collect the soil samples from First World War memorial sites, school grounds or locally significant sites.

Spatial Services surveyors and local surveyors were key to the project's success.

Locally soil samples were collected from Billimari, Gooloogong, Westville, Waugoola, Mandurama, Eugowra, Darbys Falls, Walli, Mount McDonald, Wattamonda, Wyangala, Koorawatha, Bumbaldry, Greenethorpe, Canowindra and Cowra.

Just months out from the opening of the expanded Memorial, NSW Surveyor General Narelle Underwood has visited the site to participate in the installation process. The memorial’s new Hall of Service artwork, devised by Australian artist Fiona Hall, will include the soil sample and a plaque for every town, suburb and locality around NSW that enlistees for the First World War gave as their place of address. 

Surveyors from around the state have volunteered their time to be involved in the collection process to ensure that the coordinates of the soil collection sites were precise.

NSW Surveyor General Narelle Underwood said many great stories have been uncovered throughout the state. “The soil collection program has been a terrific opportunity for our surveyors to get out and about in their local communities and build solid connections while working to honour our diggers,” she said.

“We have met people who are honouring the memories of their own relatives and who have shared with us the stories passed down through generations of family members.

“It has been a wonderful project to work on and the type of unusual role that surveyors love to take part in. Our profession takes us all over the state, county and world, we get to work in amazing landscapes, meet incredible people and be a part of events and activities that shape our nation at all levels,” Ms Underwood said.

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