Home Front

As the war stretched on, thousands of women at home in Australia supported the war effort by volunteering for patriotic fundraising activities. Others, ardent pacifists, became active campaigners against conscription.

Frayed at edges, certificate with red cross symbol in ornate diagram at top, and cursive script below.

Bessie Rouse and the Kellyville-Rouse Hill Red Cross

Eliza Ann Rouse, affectionately known as Bessie, mistress of Rouse Hill House, was in her early seventies when war was declared in August 1914


Isabel Swann: the Women’s Peace Army & free speech

An ardent peace activist, an anti-conscription campaigner and defender of free speech

Cream doily with scalloped edge and hand painted with flag designs.

Patriotic fundraising

Within days of the declaration of war in August 1914 a vast civilian ‘army’ of voluntary workers began to mobilise to support the war effort

Celluloid doll wearing garment pinned with variety of patriotic badges.

A patriotic fundraising memento

This tiny celluloid doll, just 10 centimetres in height and clothed in panels of ribbon, is showing her age

Black and white photo of large crowd from above.

Allies’ Day 1915

On Friday 19 November 1915 a huge crowd gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place for a carnival, styled the ‘Festival of the Allied nations’, aimed at raising money for the relief of Britain’s allies in the war

Black and white photo of group on path framed by Norfolk Island pines.

Cupid camouflaged: a Red Cross silent movie

Cupid camouflaged is a lost film from the era of Australian silent movies, and was produced in 1918 as a fundraiser for the war work of the Australian Red Cross

Stitched cover of song book with blue and red printed design and words Our Boys.

Our Boys: patriotic sheet music

The song, written by a young Sydney woman named Evelyn Greig, was one of more than 500 patriotic songs published in Australia during World War I

Ornate and highly coloured written document on plain background.

Red Cross Convalescent Home at Moss Vale

‘The Mill’, an old Throsby family property at Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands of NSW, opened as a Red Cross convalescent home in late January 1916

Overlay of book cover and poem page to show both in one image.

Patriotic verse: ‘Wings’ by Eva Manning

In the collection at Rouse Hill Estate there are four copies of Wings, a little booklet of patriotic verse written by a schoolteacher named Eva Marion Manning


Red Cross tearoom at Vaucluse House

On 2 October 1918 the Sydney Mail published a photograph of a Red Cross worker amid the wisteria of Vaucluse House

Rolled piece of music on wooden scroll.

The Allies in camp music roll

Rouse Hill house boasts a fine pianola, a player piano, which came into the house just a few years before the outbreak of World War I

Tom Thorburn’s letter from Forbes on 15 November 1918 to his sister Tot Thorburn at Meroogal, Nowra

The bells are ringing

In early November 1918, Australians knew that the end of World War I was imminent and that an armistice was about to be signed between Germany and the Allies

Handwritten letter overlaid with black and white photograph.

The sock knitter: Belle Thorburn

For soldiers in the trenches of wartime Europe, a pair of hand-knitted socks was more than just a comfort from home

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War Service

From the shores of Gallipoli to the sprawling Western Front, the stories told here reveal the powerful war experiences of ordinary soldiers. Some were decorated for bravery in the field, while others made the ultimate sacrifice

Group of men in formation in middle ground of large open area with buildings behind.

Enemy Within?

These stories explore the threat to Australia from within, from the identification of a section of the population as ‘enemy aliens’ to the formation of the jingoistic Anti-German League, and the radical ideology and activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Closeup view of memorial.


Hear the poignant personal stories behind battlefield grave markers in Egypt, France and Gallipoli, as well as the stories behind workplace honour rolls, one of the most common, but often hidden, forms of war memorial in Australia