A $10,000 Southern Downs Regional Council grant has helped chronicle the journey of Australian Diggers from the Western Front to the Granite Belt while preserving an important piece of the region’s war time history.

The Guardians: Meet the Australian, French & Belgian people dedicated to gatekeeping the WWI Anzac legends, chronicles photojournalist Louise Grayson’s journey from the battlefields of France and Belgium to the Granite Belt, where more than 500 diggers resettled after the war in the Pikedale Settlement. Ten years in the making, the completion of the project was made possible by a $10,000 grant from SDRC’s Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). The RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Southern Downs Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

The Guardians was released in 2018 to coincide with the Centenary of WWI and is a coffee table book featuring a collection of beautifully shot photographs, personal stories and interviews. Grayson said the completion of The Guardians would not have been possible without the RADF grant from SDRC. “The generous RADF grant was used for all aspects involved in creating a large-coffee table limited edition book—text and photo editing, photo pre-production work and graphic design,” Grayson said. She said the RADF program is a wonderful initiative to help create outcomes for creative projects like The Guardians. As a result of the grant we were able to create a high quality outcome.”

A brush with World War I battlefield tourism in France almost a decade ago led Grayson to research the role of Australian Diggers in the war. She discovered some Granite Belt communities, such as Amiens, Bapaume and Fleurbaix, share a legacy with their European namesakes in France and Belgium. Councillor for Finance, Governance and the Arts, Jo McNally said The Guardians was a wonderful example of how the RADF can help preserve the region’s history and contribute to the arts. “The beautifully shot photographs and fantastic stories in The Guardians highlight not only Louise’s skill as a photographer and storyteller, but also the rich history of the Southern Downs and Granite Belt,” Cr McNally said. “The Guardians exemplifies how the Regional Arts Development Fund can help artists complete projects that residents can be proud of and promote the region’s rich culture.”

To view The Guardians: Meet the Australian, French & Belgian people dedicated to gatekeeping the WW1 Anzac legends, please visit online.

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