The community of Violet Town is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Southern Aurora railway tragedy. A head-on crash occurred just after 7:00am on February 7 1969, and the terrible sound shook the town awake.
Without hesitation the small community of Violet Town and district went to work to enter the wreckage to locate and rescue survivors and to control the fires in the terrible tangled mess. Nine people died in the trains, and over 50 were seriously injured, but countless numbers of lives were saved by this rapid voluntary response and supported by a whole range of activities on that day.
The activities commenced and carried out during that day by hundreds of local volunteer women and men covered a wide range of support: first aid, emergency transport, search and rescue, fire control, incident management, recovery, medical treatment, communications, nursing, counselling, pastoral care, catering, security and emergency accommodation. Some of these activities continued for several days.
This was a very traumatic event for all people involved, and many still carry the effects. We believe it is time to respectfully commemorate all those affected including people who were tragically killed, those who stepped forward to help in many ways, those who were physically injured, and those who were affected in other ways by the traumatic experience.
While several people received awards, there has never been any significant or official recognition of the event and its aftermath. We believe the approaching 50th anniversary provides an opportunity to correct this. There is a local saying that "Violet Town runs on volunteers." In this spirit, a group of volunteers plans to coordinate a commemoration weekend in February 2019 and build a memorial garden over the next 12 months. We have broad support for our concept, however we need funds and other support to help our small community carry out this important task.
We plan to build a high-quality and enduring garden space which provides opportunity for solace and reflection. It will also hold a range of information which respectfully acknowledges the tragedy and its aftermath, and also the crucial role of rail transport to regional communities. We plan to formally launch it on the 50th anniversary and hold a multi-denominational service on the Sunday as part of that.