Anzac profits


A few Anzac gifts available from the Post Office

As you bite into your Anzac biscuit, preparing to celebrate Anzac Day at Anzac Cottage, or maybe have a pint at the Oxford Hotel on the corner of Anzac Road, or…

You get the point. Anzac is a bit more than a military term. It’s a word full of emotion and value. Value in the ‘give me all of the money’ sense, that is.

The wonderful Ms History Punk has exposed the cashing in immediately—really immediately—after the word Anzac was coined. It wasn’t even an official word at first, just a nickname. It wasn’t even popular with some soldiers. So Ms Punk explores the seedy world of business folk safe back home in Australia who never missed a chance to make a little extra.

Like the Imperial Boot Co on Hay Street who announced an Anzac Sale in 1916. Yep. Apparently all those Anzac heroes going off to war meant they weren’t buying footwear like they should have been. And the poor shop was overstocked. So here was your chance to get some cheap shoes before the soldiers came home and the prices went back up again. That’s what they meant by Anzac Sale!

If you were in Bunbury during WWI and fancied a cool drink, fruit, lollies, or perhaps some beef or ham, we’d recommend the deli quickly renamed The Anzac to catch the current mood. Or if you were in Kalgoorlie, why not eat at the Anzac Grill Rooms?

Didn’t get a residence built for you by the local community? Presumably that’s because you weren’t a wounded serviceman. Never mind, estate agents will still sell you a lovely house as close as possible to Mt Hawthorn’s Anzac Cottage. Really close if you can afford a bit extra.

And finally, not serving overseas? Well you can pretend you are by buying some Anzac badges and Anzac hat pins to wear on Anzac Day. Then you can imagine you’re playing your part. And Boans can make a profit. By coincidence, of course.

It was all getting so out of hand that the WA poet Dryblower (aka Edwin Murphy) imagined a dystopia where:

It’s ‘Anzac Cottage’ and ‘Anzac-street,’
Anzac sox for your tender feet;
Anzac collars and Anzac ties,
Anzac puddings and Anzac pies.
Anzac stockings and Anzac shoes,
Anzac buttons and Anzac booze.
There’s an Anzac hat for an Anzac head,
And an Anzac bridegroom newly wed,
While spoony pairs will be sighing soon
For a sweet little Anzac honeymoon!

We were spared this nightmare when the Government suddenly banned the use of the word on anything commercial.

But you should still go to Anzac Cottage. And eat an Anzac biscuit. And be thankful we were spared Anzac socks. Although a pint of Anzac booze would go down nicely right now.

The war over Anzac Cottage


There is nothing so wonderful, so perfect, that some mongrel can’t find a way to try and ruin it.

But first a quick history lesson.

Anzac Cottage in Mt Hawthorn was built in 1916 by the local residents as a home for Private John Porter and his family. It was intended both to help out a wounded soldier and serve as a memorial for those who lost their lives at Gallipoli.

End of quick history lesson.

So, they’re about to build Anzac Cottage when the said mongrel pops up.

Let me introduce you to John Beer.

Mr Beer decides to write to the paper saying that the proposed cottage is far too grand for a simple soldier like Private Porter. He thinks that a much more modest dwelling should be constructed for the wounded digger.

Of course, he’s only thinking of saving Private Porter from embarrassment of having to accept the keys of Anzac Cottage. Imagine how humiliating it would be for Mrs Porter to think that she and her family would have to live in such a lovely place. Mr Beer is only being considerate.

And, in any case, perhaps more people would donate money to the project if they knew that only a small building was being erected.

What a thoughtful, kind man Mr Beer was.

This letter drew a stinging rebuke from the organiser of the project, Frank Kelsall. John Beer could get stuffed, he said.

If you think a simple four-room cottage is too much for the family of a man who had served his nation, then you are an “insufferable cad”.

Besides which, continued Frank, there were enough gossip mongers in Mt Hawthorn already stirring up trouble about the project without tossers like Mr Beer poking his nose in.

Rather than do the decent thing, and keep his mouth shut, John Beer now decided to attack the organising committee, as well as Private Porter. Lovely.

Fortunately, the tosspots like Beer did not triumph, and Private Porter was able to receive the keys to his modest home as planned.

If you want to check out if Anzac Cottage was too grand for a wounded digger, it’s open this afternoon (1 March) from 1pm. I reckon a pint in the Oxford Hotel to toast Private Porter and curse John Beer would be entirely appropriate first.