Unveiling and Dedication of the Walking with Greta statue
State Member for Gregory, Mr Lachlan Millar MP; Federal Member for Maranoa and Leader of the Nationals, the Honourable David Littleproud MP; Mayor of Blackall-Tambo Regional Council, Councillor Andrew Martin; RSL Queensland Deputy President, Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Taylor (Retd); Blackall RSL Sub-Branch President, Captain Terri-Ann Eden-Jones; Representing the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, Lieutenant Daniel Mulhall; Nephew of Edgar and Greta Towner, Mr John Towner; Sculptor, Mr Cam Crossley; Distinguished guests; Ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we gather, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to all First Nations people here today.
As Joint Patrons of RSL Queensland, Graeme and I are honoured to join the RSL Blackall Sub-Branch, members of the Towner family, and all of you for this significant occasion in the history of the region.
This afternoon, we pay tribute to Sister Greta Norman Towner, whose magnificent statue, created by sculptor Mr Crossley, captures the brave determination of this remarkable woman, and will stand as an enduring testimony to her service to others.
Like her brother — the “Giant ANZAC”, Lieutenant Edgar Towner VC MC — Greta enlisted without hesitation.
In 1915, as a newly qualified nurse and member of the Australian Army Nursing Service, she left the familiar for the unknown, the safe for the perilous, prepared to risk her own life for the greater good.
And like her brother, she served with distinction — yet, little was known about her life, until Ms Avril Fazel and the students from Blackall State School, joined forces with Ms Christine Campbell and the Blackall Historical Society on a journey of discovery.
What is so inspiring about Sister Greta’s story is that it represents so much more than one individual’s contribution—incredible though that was.
Her efforts personify the qualities of skill, care and compassion of the three-thousand Australian nurses who served during World War One—whose legacies are so very worthy of public recognition.
Sister Greta’s story represents the immense, disproportionate sacrifice of our country communities — whose losses during that war, and in all subsequent conflicts, continued to impact lives and fortunes long after the guns had silenced.
And her story is one of community resolve, reflected in the genesis and realisation of this statue, but even more broadly in dedication of people in Blackall and Tambo to honour and preserve the achievements of their own sons and daughters.
Now, in Blackall’s Memorial Park, a heroic nurse’s statue, Walking with Greta, joins that of her gallant brother, Towner’s Call, which owes its existence to schoolboy Ronan Robinson’s 2008 quest to recognise Lieutenant Towner.
Siblings reunited across time and standing proudly as a result of the efforts of local people.
These dual bronze statues are not only beautiful, but also expertly crafted to endure the years.
Soon, it will be my great pleasure to join Mr John Towner, nephew of Edgar and Greta, in unveiling Walking with Greta for everyone to admire, and I thank the members of the extended Towner family who have travelled far to be here today.
I offer my deepest congratulations to the entire community, and in particular those individuals and organisations who have been directly involved in this journey with the “Sister Greta Towner — She Too Served” project.
Thank you for sharing your pride in your homegrown servicemen and women with all of Queensland.