Holbrook, "the Submarine town"
Australia is well known for its vast landscape, but then you pull in a small town, 400 km inland, and almost drive into a....submarine!
World War I and ANZAC Day
As you travel in Australia, you will see many references to the military; pieces of artillery in a park, a combat airplane replica, monuments in honour of combattants, etc. The national ANZAC Day (stands for: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), celebrated on April 25th, is one of the most important days in the year. It commemorates military engagement, especially in the Gallipoli campaign of World War I. Allied forces attacked the Turkish army led by Atatürk on April 25th, 1915, aiming to capture Constantinople, then an ally of the German army. Although the campaign failed to meet its objective, it gave birth to the powerful Anzac legend, contributing to the strengthening the identity of both nations in the future.
Lieutenant Norman Holbrook
Lt. Holbrook was a British naval officer, commander of the submarine HMS B11, operating in the Dardanelles Strait in 1914. He managed to torpedo a large Turkish ship before escaping in a dangerous mine-field, whilst remaining submerged for 9 hours, something deemed impossible for an old submarine. He survived and was awarded the Victoria cross. In 1915, the small town of Germanton in New South Wales, with an unfortunate name considering the events of the world, changed its name to Holbrook in honour of the daredevil commander, even though he had little connection to Australia.
Nowadays, a 1/5th replica of his B11 submarine is exposed in the Holbrook park.
HMAS Otway, a full-size submarine in rural Australia
The town's special connection with the underwater vessels encouraged the city to acquire the complete out-of-water structure of a 1994 decommissioned Oberon-class submarine from the Royal Australian Navy. A large donation of Commander Holbrook's widow made this possible and the submarine museum opened in 1997.
We enjoyed the visit around the outdoor structures, reading about the fascinating story of the man who gave his name to a city thousands of kilometers away.
Every town and place has its history, and we will put this visit down as homeschooling time with the boys ;-)