Over the past three months, the small town of Windorah has hosted soldiers of 11th Brigade who are supporting Queensland police and other state authorities as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist. 

During the operation, soldiers also found time to help with jobs that needed doing in the town, which has a population of 80 with a median age of 60. 

Acting Section Commander Lance Corporal Brodie Paul said once permission was granted to restore the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, his troops became highly motivated. 

“Windorah is a town that has a strong Anzac tradition – the local cenotaph features three Mentioned in Despatches, a Military Medal and a Distinguished Flying Cross, and local families have seen their sons depart to every conflict Australia has participated in since the Boer War,” Lance Corporal Paul said.

“The church offered the perfect project to say thank you to a local community with such strong Anzac links.

“During the works, two local ladies would deliver home-baked cakes and stop for a chat – both have sons in the Army and were pleased to see the uniform in town.”

Local president of the Windorah Development Board and owner of the Western Star Motel, Marilyn Simpson, said the community were very grateful.

“We have an ageing population so getting the people power to fix the church is difficult. We are thankful to have a whole lot of strong Army folk who were itching to help,” Mrs Simpson said. 

Lance Corporal Paul said work on the historic building took a number of days and saw a number of techniques used. 

The church offered the perfect project to say thank you to a local community with such strong Anzac links.

“The church dates to 1940 with most of the pieces within it being of high quality. A lot of love went into the building of this church 80 years ago,” Lance Corporal Paul said. 

“A clean and light sanding with a fresh coat of paint brought out the best in different facets of the building and it was fortunate to have Sapper Eamon Kelly – a skilled trades person – in our team. Without him this project wouldn’t have been finished to such a high level.”

The project reflects work being completed across the state by Joint Task Group 629.3 – providing essential support to Queensland police, while integrating with local communities.

During the operation their presence boosted local economies as soldiers sought catering, accommodation, hygiene and waste disposal services.

Across multiple locations in Queensland, Defence has spent more than $5 million to access these services - something not lost on local business owners.

Mrs Simpson said Defence support had helped her business during COVID-19 restrictions. 

“It has allowed me to keep two staff employed and the flow-on effects for the community have been vital,” Mrs Simpson said.

“Thanks to the support of Defence, our community will come through COVID-19.”