On Sunday 10th October, 1915, the "Coo-ee" recruitment march left Gilgandra with 25 marchers. Marching 515 kms, stopping at each town and village holding recruitment speeches to increase their ranks.
They arrived in Sydney on Friday, 12 November, 1915 with its numbers increased to 263. This march started a 'snowball' march of other similar recruitment marches in late 1915 and 1916.
The "Cooee" march got it's name as the marchers shouted "Cooee" to attract recruits.
The word "Coo-ee" was used by indigenous people prior to European settlement. It was recorded in a notebook by one of the first fleet in 1789, and notated in music by Baudin in 1801. By the 1820s, it was part of colonial speech, widespread in New Zealand too.
Then in the 1840s it began to be called out loud in London by visiting colonists, and its nationalistic association with Australia began. A growing number of 'coo-ee' songs followed, along with its appearance in literature.
Federation seized on a word that symbolically encompassed the whole of Australia, and its popularity rose to the point where there were calls for three cheers to be replaced with three 'coo-ees'. In the First World War, the number of coo-ee songs swelled as it joined the chorus of recruitment numbers and ballads reminding troops of home.
The Australian National Film and Sound Archive has an hour and a half video called "Coo-ee" made in 1988. You can view this below:
On Tuesday 27th of October, 2015, a century later, the Coo-ee March re-enactment marched through Orange NSW.
It was a perfect sunny November day and the men and women marched down Summer street at 2pm from Cook Park to the war memorial.
Shop owners were hanging out of the front doors watching the parade which consisted of school children, school bands, scouts, cadets, support staff and many more as the public cheered them on.
Here are some photos of the day...