Written in stone…

Aboriginal bush tracker Tommy who joined Broken Hill police station way back in 1892 is just one of the many ex and serving Broken Hill police personnel who have their names carved in stone and placed for ever in the Back to Barrier Paver Project.

Tommy – his last name was never known, or at least never recorded – remained with the force until 190 when it is assumed he returned to country.

The Paver Project at the front of Broken Hill police station is now in Stage two, with funds raised from the purchase of each paver donated to the NSW Police Force charity, NSW Police Legacy.

With 380 memorial pavers laid under the three flagpoles out the front of the new police station on Blende St during stage one of the Back to Barrier Paver Project, Stage two provides space, known as the Parade Ground, for another five rows of 110 pavers to be added at $100 per paver, with funds raised helping to support police families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.

Engraved with names, titles, and dates of police service in the Broken Hill district, the pavers laid so far are named in recognition of current and former, sworn, and unsworn members of our local police service.

Project coordinator, retired Senior Constable Ray Gardoll, told the Truth the Paver Project is moving into stage two so that everyone who missed out on purchasing pavers during Stage one have another opportunity to do so.

“The earliest paver we have is in honour of an Aboriginal bush tracker by the name of Tommy,” Mr Gardoll says.

“No one knew what his surname was, but he arrived in the records in 1892 and disappears from the records in 1910,” said. “It’s assumed that he returned to country.”

Featuring on the cover of Pathfinders: A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW by Michael Bennett, Tommy is said to have assisted in many police investigations in the Broken Hill district and was praised for his “marvellous skill” in locating the Stephens Creek cave camp of a notorious “pantry robber” in 1899.

Later that year, Tommy led police to a “mutilated safe” stolen from the Commercial Hotel, and dumped by robbers near the North mine tailings heap at Round House Creek.

Among other notable names to be found at Parade Ground is 1890s Mounted Trooper 1st Class Cyrus Liddy, a “well-known and popular” officer in charge of Euriowie Police Station for four years whose sudden death – a fall from a runaway horse drawn buggy when the brake failed – was recorded in the Barrier Miner in 1892. He was laid to rest in Broken Hill cemetery.

Barrier Police District Commander, Superintendent David Cooper, has ordered his paver since he started in the position in Broken Hill after stage one was completed.

“I’ve ordered my paver as I feel honoured to be out here,” said Supt Cooper. “We’d like to find all the historical names to make sure we’ve included everyone who has ever worked in the police force in this district.

“With a brand-new police station, we have the area out the front under the three flags to honour all who have served here before us, and all now serving the community,” he said. “My office looks over the area, and I see people stopping and spending 15 minutes to take in all the names and the historical significance.

“Ray and the Back to Barrier people have done a wonderful job in keeping the history alive. I encourage everyone to come and have a look under the flags, take photos, and let Ray know if they’re aware of someone who served in the police force here whose name isn’t yet on a paver,” said Mr Cooper.

“We want all police – past and present – to be remembered for their bravery and service to this remote community by people who visit this space.”

With 22 pavers representing the district police who left the region to serve in World War I, six pavers honouring local police who fought in World War II, including Fred Hanson, who returned to Broken Hill to continue his role with the police, and two pavers for Silver City police, Rodney O’Regan OAM, and Carey Johnson who went to Vietnam, the stories surfacing from Parade Ground are endless.

“Still with us today is Rodney O’Regan, who was one of the ‘tunnel rats’ who crawled into tunnels to flush out Viet Cong operating underground,” said Mr Gardoll. “I can’t believe he’d stick his head in a hole like that, but he received an Order of Australia medal for it.”

With stage two of the Back to Barrier Paver Project now underway, families and friends of deceased local police are invited to purchase pavers on behalf of loved ones who meet the criteria. If unable to purchase a paver, people are still encouraged to provide names and details of service in this district.

For more information, call Ray Gardoll on 0429 005 487 or to place your order, email [email protected]

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