1914, WA Diggers Depart: Blackboy Hill to Fremantle and Beyond

On 31 October 1914, two transport ships sailed from Fremantle. HMAT Ascanius carried Western Australia's 11th Infantry Battalion with South Australia's 10th Infantry Battalion and HMAT Medic carried Western Australia's 12th Infantry Battalion and 3rd Field Company Engineers. Also travelling on the Medic were Western Australian and South Australian men from the 8th Battery 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, Divisional Train (1 to 4 Companies Army Service Corps), 1st Division 3rd Australian Field Ambulance and the Divisional Ammunition Column.
The HMAS Pioneer and the Japanese ship HIJMS Ibuki provided escort. On 3 November 1914 they joined up with a large convoy from Albany to make their precarious journey to war. 


Community Bivouac, 5.00pm – 7.30pm

Venue: Greenmount Primary School, Greenmount

Families and people of all ages are invited to come and participate in an evening of activities, storytelling, live music, memorabilia displays and demonstrations.

Join the 11th Battalion Living History Unit, YMCA and other organisations with historic links to Blackboy Hill to learn life what was like at the training camp for Western Australian troops. This will include period tents, uniforms and a program of activities detailing the experience of Western Australian troops one hundred years ago.

Please register your interest to attend the Community Bivouac here.


Blackboy Hill Departure Service, 8.00am

Venue: Blackboy Hill Commemorative Site, Greenmount

The public is invited to attend the RSL service to be held at the Blackboy Hill Commemorative Site. The short service will provide a commemoration for the centenary of the first ANZAC departure from Blackboy Hill.

Public parking will be available at Fraser Park, Fraser Drive, Greenmount.

At the conclusion of the departure service Navy, Army and Air Force Cadets accompanied by the WA Military Cadet Band, 11th Battalion Living History Unit and the Avon Valley Light 10th Horse Memorial Troop will march from the Blackboy Hill Commemorative Site to the Bellevue RSL.

This march will provide historical significance as it re-creates the march taken by ANZAC soldiers one hundred years ago to the day.

The Bellevue RSL is the site of the old Bellevue train station. This is the train station that the troops would have boarded the train to Fremantle Port.


Heritage Train Journey

The ‘troops' will journey to Fremantle in specially prepared historic looking carriages pulled by a C class diesel locomotive. The locomotive is similar to those used for many years by Western Australian Government Railways across Western Australia.

The journey from Bellevue to Fremantle in 1914 was by steam locomotive. This could not be recreated on the Perth suburban rail system for safety reasons.

School children have been invited to participate in the commemoration of this journey by making Australian flags and ‘waving off the troops' at stations along the route as the train passes by, much as they would have done throughout World War One. The public is cheer the cadets at each station too. 

The train will depart Midland Station at 10.00 am. The journey to Fremantle Station will take approximately 70 minutes.

Students from local schools will be at Fremantle Train Station (which was operational and built in 1914) waiting to greet the ‘troops' as they get off the train.



Please note that these times are approximate and it is recommended that you get to train stations early.

Also note that priority will be given to school students who have already registered to see the train.


Fremantle March, 11.00am

Venue: Phillimore Street, Fremantle

Line the streets to welcome members of the 10th Light Horse memorial troop, 11th Battalion Living History Unit, WA Military Cadet Band and a contingent of Navy, Army and Air Force cadets as they march from Pioneer Park, down Phillimore Street to Victoria Quay.


Fremantle Departure Service, 11.30am

Venue: Victoria Quay (in front of the WA Maritime Museum), Fremantle

All are welcome to attend this service commemorating the departure of the troops from Fremantle Port.

Please register your interest to attend the Fremantle Service here.*

*Please note that this is a public event; however, we are sending formal invitations and assigning seats to descendants of World War One veterans. To receive a formal invitation and seat, you must register before 29 September 2014. After 29 September, you can still register to attend but you will not receive a formal invitation. Some seating will be available for those who require mobility and access support. Please indicate if this is necessary on registration. 


For further information please call the WA Diggers Depart Infoline on 9227 8266.

Blackboy Hill

Today, apart from the Blackboy Hill Commemorative Site, St Anthony's Primary School and Church, and Greenmount Primary School, Blackboy Hill has been absorbed into the pleasant residential suburb of Greenmount.

However, from August 1914 until November 1918, the site was a military training camp which prepared large numbers of Australian Imperial Force troops before they left for the various battlefronts in Europe and the Middle East.

Within days of Britain declaring war on Germany on 4 August 1914, beginning Australia's involvement in what was then known as the World War or the Great War, and which we now refer to as the First World War or World War I, the first of 32,000 troops who would go through the camp over the next four years marched on to Blackboy Hill to begin training.

The 11th Infantry Battalion was the first battalion raised in Western Australia after war was declared. There was a rush of eager young men, including 14 who had been working on the transcontinental railway. They immediately downed tools and travelled to Kalgoorlie, arriving on 15 August 1914. Of the 14, 13 were accepted as recruits and the next day boarded a special train to Perth. After a rousing public send-off in Kalgoorlie, the recruits were met with further cheers, congratulations and refreshments at every stop on the journey to Perth.

They marched to Blackboy Hill on 17 August. The 11th Battalion was composed of a disparate bunch of fine men, truly representative of Western Australia. They were bushmen and bank clerks; shearers, labourers, teachers, farmers, miners and timber workers.

Together at Blackboy Hill they were moulded into a cohesive unit. Initially, there was no camp, so the first thing they had to do was draw tents and pitch camp. Over the following months they began marching, drilling, and learning the skills of an effective fighting force.

After a 4am parade at Blackboy Hill on 31 October 2014, they boarded the train to Fremantle to begin their journey to the Great War.


Albany was the departure point of most Australian and New Zealand troops taking the long journey to war.

On 31 october 1914, however, Fremantle welcomed two transport ships, HMAT Medic and HMAT Ascanius, to collect Western Australia's first expeditionary force.

Both transport ships had already collected South Australian troops on 20 October. HMAT Medic already carried members of the 8th Battery 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, Divisional Train (1 to 4 companies Army Service Corps), 1st Division 3rd Australian Field Ambulance and the Divisional Ammunition Column. Each of these groups would be reinforced by Western Australian enlistees, in addition to men from the 12th Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Field Company Engineers.

HMAT Ascanius carried the 10th Infantry Battalion from South Australia and were joined by Western Australia's 11th Battalion.

Fremantle turned out in force to farewell their men. "There was much excitement and great rejoicing,” said Captain Walter Belford of the 11th Battalion. "There was a vast concourse of people down at the wharf to see the troops off.”

On 1 November, HMAS Pioneer and the Japanese HIJMS Ibuki also sailed from Fremantle as escorts.

Two days later, Ascanius and Medic joined the Albany convoy off Fremantle, and sailed together to their destiny.

After posing for a famous picture at the pyramids in Egypt, the 11th Battalion soon saw action.

In early 1915 it was decided to carry out an amphibious landing on the Gallipoli peninsula to open up a second front and secure the passage of the Dardanelles.

Australians and New Zealanders, grouped together as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), went ashore on 25 April 1915. As part of the 3rd Brigade, 11th Battalion troops were among the first ashore at 4.30am at what is now known as Anzac Cove.

For the next eight months the Anzacs, alongside their British, French and other allies, fought a costly and ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Turks. The Anzac force was evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula in December 1915 and returned to Egypt.

The 11th Battalion served in France and Belgium from 1916 to 1918. After the Great War ended on 11 November 1918, the Battalion was disbanded on 5 February 1919.

A century on, we remember those who sailed away from Fremantle, many never to return.  




In the first instance we would like to encourage people to consider public transport, train and bus services along with the healthy options of walking and cycling where possible; there is limited parking in the Fremantle CBD and it will get very busy so if you must drive be sure to come in early. 

Parking is available at the following larger parking locations around the City:

·Beach Street Car Park (CAT in)

·Claremont Train Station (train in)

·Point Street Car Park (CAT in)

·Queensgate Car Park (walk in) – first hour free

·Car Park 11 adjacent to the Esplanade next to the Italian Club (walk in)

·Collie Street Car Park (walk in)

·Parry Street Car Park (walk in) – first hour free

Street parking on Phillimore Street and some surrounding streets will not be available, nor will the parking outside of the Maritime Museum. 

Signed street parking as well as smaller car parks will be available on the day throughout the City. For a comprehensive parking map locations please visit the City of Fremantle's website www.fremantle.wa.gov.au or search ‘Fremantle parking’ in the App Store to find where to park.


Public Transport (trains, buses and CAT buses)

There will be some disruption to train and CAT services. See

http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/Service-Updates/Service-Update-Details/midland-and-fremantle-lines-service-disruption-4251 for more information. 


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The City of Fremantle will be participating in, supporting, and hosting a number of events over the commemorative period. The people of Fremantle (including the greater Fremantle area) are proud to be part of the ANZAC Centenary commemorations and to have the opportunity to honour and pay respect to those who have and are serving our nation as part of the Armed Forces. ANZAC Centenary events will embrace the themes: 'Commemorate, Contemplate and Educate'.
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The 849

The 849

Eight hundred and forty-nine is the number of servicemen who lived in the greater Fremantle area, embarked in Fremantle on transport ships that would take them to far away fields, and they are the ones that never returned. You can view the list here. If you would like to make comment about the list please contact 9432 9999 or email events@fremantle.wa.gov.au.
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