The evening began with a horseback charge undertaken by the Queensland Mounted Infantry Historical Unit and others, to honour the men of western Queensland that enlisted and fought in the Australian Light Horse.
Some participated in the audacious charge of Beersheba, an unexpected military tactic that helped swing the fortunes of the first World War in the Allies’ favour.
With armoured vehicles forming a guard of honour for dinner guests, Warrant Officer Jason Moriarty of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment closed the loop between history and the modern-day soldier in his speech.
“The men who took part in the charge – what sort of Australians were they,” Jason asked.
“They had horsemanship – the ability to ride at speed over obstacles and engage a formidable enemy.
“Humour was a characteristic too, to overcome the hardship and death of mates.
“Looking after their mate – their horse – and giving them their last drop of water – that’s another.
“All soldiers hold our history with pride – that’s what we draw our strength from.”
The audience also heard from Victorian Racing Club president, Amanda Elliott, who said it was an honour to support the Light Horse.
“The Melbourne Cup is a test of grit and heart, displayed in plenty by the modern day soldier.”
The dazzling array of entertainment, showcasing internationally renowned didgeridoo player, Willam Barton, was a counterpoint to one of the world’s most quirky festivals, built out of the adversity of drought in the 1970s.
The evening was well patronised even as the region is in its fourth year of drought once again.
Some $20,300 was raised for the Heart of Australia bus.