1925 Corroboree: Tales from our Heritage

In 1925, under the leadership of Charles Snow, Queensland staged its first, and Australia’s 3rd Interstate Corroboree, from 29 June to 9 July 1925.  Scouts with their First Class award, 16 to 17 years of age, with Rovers and Scouters attended, totalling 360 from all Australian States.  Dr T A Price, Deputy Commissioner and former Mayor of Toowoomba, contributed to the organisation of the Corroboree.  It was an outstanding event, full of worthwhile Scouting ideas which demanded much bushcraft and was a big adventure. Three tribes were formed and composed of Patrols from each State. The tribes were the Numinbah, the Coomera and the Mudgeeraba with Patrols from each State.  The event included the E. Trenchard Miller Interstate Challenge Shield competition between Patrols.

The major activity was a very tough hike through mountainous country in the South East corner of Queensland.  The Scouts went by the Tweed, Canungra and Lamington railway routes and alighted at various railway stations on Wednesday, 1 July.

The cross-country routes and finishing points were not known to the Scouts.  Each Patrol Leader had previously been given a sealed envelope on which was merely the name of the railway station at which his Patrol must alight.

At the railway station, Patrols were given an envelope which they opened to find a map indicating only railway stations, roads, towns and natural features; no route or central meeting place was shown.  Five smaller sealed envelopes were also contained, and each was opened in sequence to give directions for the hike.  After very tough climbs over ranges, creeks, rivers, valleys, a plateau, through gorges and primitive bush, the Patrols linked with other Patrols from other directions, until they converged progressively on the tribal meeting places on the Sunday afternoon.  Here they became complete tribes under the control of their tribal chiefs.  On the Monday morning, they arrived at the central corroboree ground in the vicinity of Canungra and at the Upper Coomera River.

Before the event, many people familiar with the country commented that parties of bushmen would be needed to find lost Scouts.  Patrol Leaders were told by farmers that some of the ranges were impassable.  The Patrol Leaders took out their compasses and went according to the official instructions and every Patrol got through and arrived at the appointed time.

On the Monday night there was a colourful and elaborate corroboree ceremony according to Aboriginal traditions with drumming, bull roarers and spears.  There was chanting and dancing and the solemn lighting of the Council Fire with friction of sticks.  During the corroboree the results of the E. Trenchard Miller Shield competition were announced: First – 1st Renmark (South Australia); Second – 1st Petersham (New South Wales); Third – 1st Dulwich Hill (New South Wales); and Fourth – 1st Toowoomba (Queensland ).

As a final part of the ceremony and the event, those Scouts who had fulfilled the necessary requirements of the challenging journey were presented with the High Hikers Badge.  This round metal badge was the size of a one cent piece with horns.  It was worn on the old-style Patrol shoulder ribbons of the Scout shirt.

“The Adventure in Scouting continues”

Scouts Queensland Heritage Team