“And the band played on”
Saturday, 14th April, 2012
By Kurtis Eichler
Armed with his wicked wit and a black cane, Adelaide journalist Peter Goers has come to the city for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Broken Hill is one of only two places in Australia with a memorial to the doomed luxury liner - the other is in Ballarat.
The memorial, built in December 1913, is dedicated to the band members who continued to play while the ship went down. It was the first monument built in Broken Hill. The pillar is broken to represent life cut short.
To honour the occasion City Council will hold a public service tomorrow in Sturt Park at 12.30pm.
Mr Goers, a Sunday Mail columnist and ABC Radio host, said it sounded like a good idea come to one of his favourite places and visit the memorial to the Titanic’s bandsmen.
“I read this week that the three words that are most identified all around the world by people who speak no English are Okay, Coca-Cola and Titanic,” Mr Goers told the BDT. “Isn’t that incredible?”
During the third-day of her maiden voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg just off Newfoundland on April 15, 1912.
The impact was catastrophic. Of the 2224 people on board, just 710 survived.
“The tragedy of it, of course, was felt all around the world including a desert community, a mining community in the middle of the desert and the middle of nowhere which found it in its good, big, beating generous heart to reach out to the workers as Broken Hill has always done,” Mr Goers said.
“Of all those 1514 people who went down with that ship, they reached out to seven bandsmen who worked as the ship went down.
“They were the only people who were doing that. They played ‘til the end and they could see the futility of never getting off the ship.
“They were going down and they might as well practice their art and they worked until the end and that’s a wonderful thing.
“The bands here and the citizens subscribed this beautiful memorial and I think it’s unique to Australia.”
Mr Goers hosted his ABC show live from the city on Thursday night, interviewing a handful of characters as well as speaking of the Titanic anniversary.
But it’s not just the Titanic service he’s come for - Silverton and the Mundi Mundi Plains are just some of the places he and Adelaide Advertiser journalist Samela Harris will be visiting during their short stint.
“Apart from Adelaide, my home town, I like Newcastle very much and I like Broken Hill.
“I was lucky enough to be brought here by Josie Peoples of the Peoples’ Chemist in the 80s and I came on numerous visits with her.
“I’m anxious to encourage people to come here.”
City Council’s General Manager, Frank Zaknich, said tomorrow’s ceremony was mainly in honour of the ill-fated bandsmen.
“Broken Hill has a proud musical heritage and Sunday’s event will continue that strong bond.”