An Army Camp Becomes a Park
By 1978, the old Seymour Army Camp, which had gradually fallen into decline and eventually to complete disuse, was sold by the Commonwealth Government to the Seymour Shire Council to be used for community purposes. For a number of years, it remained a neglected area of rubbish strewn wasteland on the fringe of the Seymour township. In 1979 following grass-roots community pressure, 62 hectares of the purchased land was declared as the Seymour Bushland Reserve and a local committee began its rehabilitation and upgrading. Part of the land was also sold as a golf course and another area was retained by Council as a motor sports track.
In 1995, the idea of developing the area south of the Goulburn Valley Highway as a memorial park that would recognise the contribution made particularly by the Australian Light Horse Regiments, but also the part played by all those men and women who trained and served was mooted, and in 1998 the new Mitchell Shire Council established the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park. The Council appointed a Committee of Management for the park with Mr Murray Smith as inaugural President His role was particularly significant as Murray a highly respected Seymour citizen, had served in the Second AIF and was a ‘Rat of Tobruk’.
The Management Committee began the mammoth task of cleaning up the 140 hectares of land and welcomed the willing cooperation that they received from the Army. Colonel Gordon Jones, then Area Commander of Puckapunyal Military Area, recognised the importance of the park to Australia’s military heritage and provided practical assistance in removing much of the unwanted material left behind by the Army, while leaving important relics and ruins in place.
In 2001, to coincide with the centenary of the Australian Army, the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park was officially opened by the Hon. Brendan Nelson, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. The occasion was marked with a grand parade of Light Horse Living History groups and Armour, Artillery and Infantry units from the modern Australian Army. In recent years, the Management Committee, together with hundreds of volunteers and supporters, have continued to improve and develop the park.
Today the Australian Light Horse Memorial park attracts a wide range of visitors from all walks of life making a pilgrimage to one of Australia’s most important military heritage sites or simply to enjoy a stroll or a picnic in the tranquil bushland setting with its wide range of flora and fauna where once, a lifetime ago, soldiers gathered to prepare for war.
The Gateway Information Pavillion (right) was opened in 2009 and was designed by Tectura Architects, Melbourne.