Uncle Allan McDonald was one of the first Indigenous soldiers to enlist in the First World War, surviving Gallipoli and seeing battle in Beersheba with the iconic Light Horsemen. After his death, he was buried in an unmarked grave in the city's cemetery, in a spot no-one knew about - until now.
It was fitting that on Remembrance Day, descendants of Uncle Allan gathered around a small space in Warrnambool cemetery - marked with nothing but flowers - to unveil a headstone in recognition of the south-west soldier.
Among them was Gunditjmara man Tom Molyneux, Uncle Allan's great, great nephew.
"He's been lying in an unmarked grave since 1967 when he passed away, just after the referendum which was a milestone for Aboriginal people in terms of being counted in the census," he said.
"He's been a bit lonely next to some of the marked graves - he's there in the middle and his wife is buried in the Framlingham cemetery, so he's been here on his own and it was important for us to make sure he had the appropriate memorial he deserved.
"We were able to find him through the cemetery records. We knew through family oral records he was here at the Warrnambool cemetery but it did take quite a lot of digging because his name was spelled incorrectly.
"We then worked with elders and knowledge holders to really track down as much information as we could and piece his story together because it was at risk of being lost, especially because he didn't have any kids of his own."
Mr Molyneux said after surviving the war, Uncle Allan received little recognition for his service.
"On Remembrance Day, we try to remember all of the diggers who have sacrificed their lives, but also those who did return in the service of our country and Uncle Allan for many years - like a lot of Aboriginal soldiers - didn't get the same sort of remembrance as the non-indigenous soldiers," he said.
"After his service, he applied for a soldier settlement block at the Lake Condah mission with some of the Lovetts who were his cousins and who also have a rich military legacy and unfortunately they were all denied. There were only two Victorian Aboriginal servicemen who did receive a block.
"It is a bit of a stain on our history, the way the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen were treated after World War One in particular."
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Uncle Allan's story was inspiration for Mr Molyneux's play, 'STARDUST + THE MISSION', a 35-stop national tour which will arrive at the Lighthouse Theatre in the new year.
"The Mission tells Uncle Allan's story with 'The Mission' being quite a layered title talking about growing up at Lake Condah as well as the missions of his life, including his service for our country and for his people, fighting for their rights through the referendum process.
"We're so pleased to be able to take such a local story to the national stage. We were talking with the family about how lovely it is that his story will be properly remembered and the memorial is just one part of making sure his memory is kept alive."
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