A contingent from Maheno School has again commemorated Anzac Day at Fraser Island in Australia, the final resting place of the SS Maheno hospital ship.
The school was invited back to Fraser Island to mark Anzac Day after first attending in 2015, thanks to its links with the ship.
While there in 2015, the school was presented with a replica of the ship’s bell, which is now used daily.
The ship’s original bell, given to the school in the early 1960s by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, is displayed at the school.
This year, eight year 7 and 8 pupils and six staff and parents travelled across the Tasman.
While there, they attended Fraser Island’s Anzac Day service, where a bronze plaque set into rock, detailing the ship’s history, was unveiled.
Pupils performed a haka and pupil Oliver Symes rang a replica of the ship’s bell at the service.
Maheno School principal Ryan Fraser said it was a “special moment” and the pupils continued to gain more of an understanding of the school’s links to the ship and the island.
Before the group headed to Fraser Island, it joined Albert State School in Maryborough for its Anzac service, held a few days before April 25.
“It was really cool to be part of a service with another school.”
The school has been invited back to mark Anzac Day in 2019, and Mr Fraser is keen for the school to take part.
An idea has also been floated to create a replica of the bronze plaque for the school.
“That’s just thoughts at this stage. It would be cool to have a plaque here as well – maybe at the war memorial here would be good.”
In World War 1, the Mahenoserved as a hospital ship off Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in 1915. Over three months, she carried casualties from Gallipoli to Moudros (Greece), Malta and Alexandria (Egypt).
Maheno sailed back to New Zealand in January 1916 for a refit then returned to Egypt in February to collect patients for transport back to New Zealand.
She then sailed to the UK, arriving at Southampton in early July 1916.
Until October, she operated in the English Channel, taking large numbers of wounded troops from France to England.
The ship returned to New Zealand in December and made six more voyages between New Zealand and the UK, bringing back patients, before she was returned to her owners, the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, at the end of the war to resume her usual commercial service.
In 1935, the ship was hit by a cyclone while being towed to a shipbreaker.
It was washed ashore on Fraser Island, where its rusted hull remains.