Shire out of step with RSL march

Soldiers marching during the service. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON
Soldiers marching during the service. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

YARRAWONGA-Mulwala RSL sub-branch faces a possible fine for defying a Corowa Council order for a route change to Mulwala’s Anzac Day march.

The march has traditionally started outside Hicks’ Butchery near Dunmore Street and proceeds on Melbourne Street to the cenotaph in RSL Park.

But the council told the sub-branch in the lead-up to last week’s march it could use only a reduced section of Mulwala’s main street beginning from Bayly Street.

Sub-branch president Kerry Pendergast confirmed the council order was defied on the day with the backing of local police.

“It has been the traditional route for as long as people can remember,” he said.

“I am talking about World War II people.

“When the locals found out what was going on they were disgusted.

“Everyone we spoke to said ‘good on you for starting where you did because it was a disgrace going to the other place’.”

The letter from the council to the RSL said the change was aimed at protecting the safety of marchers.

“By reducing the length of the route along Melbourne Street, the period of time the road is required to be closed is also reduced,” it said.

“As there is no alternative detour available for traffic in this area, traffic will be required to wait until the march is completed.

“It was considered the longer distance originally proposed would require closure of the road for an unacceptable amount of time.

“The maximum time allowed for the total closure is 15 minutes.”

The letter didn’t spell out penalties for non-compliance.

But Mr Pendergast said he expected some follow-up discussions between the sub-branch and council staff in coming weeks.

Corowa mayor Fred Longmire said he supported the council position and felt the march starting from the recently re-named Digger Loughnan Park near the Bayly Street intersection was fitting of the occasion.

“If they did what they did they wouldn’t be covered by insurance,” he said.

Corowa Council is also under fire from many Mulwala residents over its preferred route for the future replacement Lake Mulwala road bridge.

The council is continuing to support the “grey” route alongside the current lake crossing to Yarrawonga.