By Dunlea Centre / Jul 17, 2021

Anniversary of the Grand March

On July 17th, 1940, Father Thomas Vincent Dunlea, parish priest of the Sutherland Shire, marched twenty+ boys from Sutherland to Loftus.

Having been served with a minor nuisance order, in prelude to an eviction, Father Dunlea marched his boys from Sutherland to Loftus under great fanfare.

The local army reserve marching band escorted the boys and their entourage of animals to Loftus (near where Loftus Oval is today), including their goat, Mr Cooper, so named for the health inspector who served them notice. Above the music the boys shouted, “All we ask is a chance. All we need is a home.”

Reporters and photographers from all parts of Australia attended the event. By the very next morning, the boys’ plight had been broadcast across the country, in newspapers, newsreels and on the airwaves.

Father and his boys set up a small canvas city, complete with dorms, a dining hall and even an outdoor chapel. Here they stayed, in their self-titled Boys’ Town, until early October, when suitable land became available in Engadine.