Advertising feature | Silky Oak Festival 2019

This year November 9 - 10, celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the Greta Army Camp, the largest single training establishment in Australia during World War 2.

The two-day festival, originally known as Silky Oak Festival was run in Greta until the late 1980's. It took its name from the Silky Oak trees that were planted in the main street of Greta to honour WW1 and WW2 Veterans.

Today, the event is more commonly known as "Celebrating Greta Army Camp 1939-1960" .

Brett Wild, President of Central Hunter Business Chamber explains:

"With the DVA reporting that less than 13,700 WW2 Veterans alive nationally, the importance of the 80th Anniversary of the 60,000 men of the 6th Division, 2nd AIF raised in the Hunter Valley should not be forgotten.

"We need to recognise, the 6th Division was the first formation of the 2nd AIF to be raised in Australia once war was declared in September 1939."

The men that enlisted had survived the 1930's depression, and enlisted to serve a nation, fight for the rights and freedoms of other around the world, defending democracy and standing up to those who sort to impose their will against others, to whom they had never meet or had even heard their names.

The first Commander of the 6th Division was given to Lieutenant General Thomas Blamey, he went on to become the Australian Army's most decorated soldier during WW2, and was the only Australian to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshall.

The Greta Army Camp also trained the British and Commonwealth Forces of Japan serving under General Douglas Macarthur as the garrison of Japan after the war.

In 1949 - 1960 the camp became home to 100,000 migrants fleeing Europe, seeking a new life in Australia.

These migrants were required to repay the cost of passage to Australia by working at BHP and the Snowy River Mountains Scheme,. They were the modern-day trail blazers who helped build a true multicultural Australia.

Celebrations will be officially opened by The Governor General of Australia, His Excellency General David Hurley AC, DSC, (Ret'd). This will be the first visit to the Hunter Region by the Governor General since his recent appointment. The Official Opening starts at 9.30am on Saturday, commencing with a full military parade.

The event is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defence. It will show case military and service personnel and equipment, displays from C130 Hercules Aircraft, Royal Australian Navy Band, MRH 90 Helicopter, military vehicles, armoured Vehicles, with mass Scottish Pipes and Drums closing each day.

There will also be displays, dance and food and a kids zone.

16th Hunter River Lancers in Greta Army Camp in the 1930's. Hot and dry in summer. Cold and wet in winter.

16th Hunter River Lancers in Greta Army Camp in the 1930's. Hot and dry in summer. Cold and wet in winter.