Thousands packed the city on Sunday morning to see the Giants wake up (approximately 1.4 million people). The Lilliputians received a rousing welcome as they arrived at Langley Park on a double-decker bus.
The program began with a ceremony commemorating the Anzac Centenary. After waking to the sound of a didgeridoo, our large guests watched Don Watson, the son of Fay, Breaksea Island lighthouse keeper’s daughter, lay a wreath with his son and daughter.
Wreaths were also laid by Graham Edwards for RSLWA and by Premier Barnett.
My parents were keen to attend the commemoration and were ready to sit on the grass inside the fenced area, but at the last moment my sister found a bench beneath a shady tree; a perfect place to view the passing of the Giants and somewhere for my family and Don Watson’s to meet after the service. Peg and her daughters gave us handcrafted poppies which will be worn proudly on April 25th in Albany, Jindabyne and Albury.
After lighting the eternal flame and a minute’s silence, horses and riders of 10th Light Horse led the Giants on a final lap of Langley Park. After the kerfuffle of banning horses from marching in Albany last November it was wonderful to see the Light Horse riders in pride of place.
The Diver’s big footsteps passed so close to us and we had a wonderful view of the Little Giant’s dance. I loved her bilum dilly bag. To make the Giants move, their Lilliputians fling themselves into the air like mediaeval bell ringers.
After their final walk, Don’s daughter, Denise, my sister and I crowd-surfed trying to get another glimpse of the Giants before they sailed away. With so many people, all we could see was a speck of smoke as the Giants’ barge reached The Narrows.
We farewelled Fay’s descendants and my daughter Sophie, then drove to Fremantle for a swim and coffee. As we crossed the old Freo bridge I happened to glance left. More magic… a giant-sized barge was docking at East Street Jetty and sitting proudly on top were the Giants, watching a flotilla of small craft and well-wishers sailing beside them.
The odds of crossing the bridge at that exact time and glancing left must surely be slim. We made a quick turn, stopped and had a perfect final view of the Little Girl and her Diver uncle. I love synchronicity and there have been many ‘spooky moments’ during the ten years since I first read about Fay signalling to the departing troops. The ‘luck’ of seeing the Little Girl Giant one last time, reminds me of Roald Dahl‘s words: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
It was an inspiring and overwhelming weekend. A time of chatting with strangers in the street, of celebrating special moments with loved ones from nearby and from afar. A time of a big, brash city sharing a sense of community. The Giants touched the hearts of people of all ages. Thank you to the sponsors and organisers. I was honoured to be part of it.
‘Two Giants’ by Eden May.