For Ebony Whitney, the Premier’s Anzac Student Tour is a “life-changing” chance to explore her deep interest in history, as well as her family’s legacy.
Ebony is one of 10 students set to travel to Sydney and New Zealand on the 2023 tour.
And the Year 12 Collie Senior High School student has a personal connection through her great-great-grandfather Gunner John James Blyth.
“I’ve always been interested in the Anzac spirit and what my relatives have done throughout the war in looking after us and giving us what we have today,” Ebony said.
John Blyth enlisted for the First World War in Narrogin in 1915, leaving behind his wife and three children under the age of five.
Escaping death in the battlefields, John Blyth fell Ill with the Spanish flu three months after the end of the war and died in hospital in France.
During a pre-tour briefing session in Perth, Ebony was able to revisit a plaque her family had placed in Kings Park six years earlier to honour John Blyth.
“The visit to the memorial in Kings Park was a right place at the right time kind of situation,” Ebony said. “I remembered the grassed area from when we first put the plaque at the tree. I asked if I could go with one of the teachers to see if we could find JJB's memorial and we were able to.”
Ebony based her essay entry for the tour on the experiences of the Collie Country Women’s Association during wartime. She said sourcing and reading documents from the time gave her “goosebumps”.
Ebony expects the tour, which is set to depart on 16 April, to be an unforgettable experience.
“Meeting new people and finding life-long friends – it will be life-changing, I’m sure,” Ebony said.
“Young people have always been important in the community. They are the next generation, and they are going to be the leaders of the future. The further you look back in the past, the better the future will play out.
“We’re learning about what happened all those years ago to hopefully make our future better.”