South Kempsey train-bus accident: Memorial garden to commemorate 1968 tragedy commences | Photos

The memorial garden designed to honour the six children victims of the train-bus accident in South Kempsey in 1968 began today.

In one of the darkest days in Kempsey’s history, a train and school bus collided and six students between the ages of 11 and 14 lost their lives, while 19 more were injured.

The bus was travelling from Kempsey High School and the Kempsey Convent School to South Kempsey and farming centres towards Dondingalong. 

Former Kempsey mayor John Bowell is behind the project and he made a plea to the community to help honour the victims.

Mr Bowell was overwhelmed by the immediate response from generous businesses and members of the community, who wanted to contribute.

“I received a lot of calls and messages from people I didn’t know but they just wanted to play their part in this worthy cause,” Mr Bowell said.

Mr Bowell has been prepared to begin construction on the project for almost two months and is glad the Kempsey Shire Council finally gave the memorial garden the green light.

“I am relieved we have been able to start the memorial garden, I was worried it wasn’t going to happen and the hard work and generosity was going to go to waste,” Mr Bowell said.

“The memorial garden wouldn’t have been possible without the support from Coastline Credit Union, who donated $1000 towards the cause, as well as the other members of the community who have pitched in.”

The first stage of building the garden was complete today, with more hours of construction to be put in over the next month and Mr Bowell is hopeful the garden will be finished in September.

At the front of the garden, next to the memorial plaque of the children’s names, six miniature conifer trees have been planted, one to represent each student who lost their life.

In December, a memorial ceremony will be held to honour the victims 50-years on from the tragedy.

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