Stories of service

World War II veteran Joyce Strawhorn.

Each Anzac Day, the Mount Macedon Memorial Cross provides a spectacular, evocative setting for one of the largest dawn services in Victoria.

This year it will host a service with the theme ‘Honouring Every Role, Every Sacrifice’ to acknowledge the many different ways that Australians have, and continue to, serve and protect their country.

As part of the service, the stories of local veterans will be shared, including the story of Kyneton’s Joyce Strawhorn, which will be told by school captains from Gisborne Secondary College.

During World War II, Joyce initially volunteered in the Women’s Air Training Corps, then enrolled in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force in 1941, and finally enlisted in the Australian Women’s Army Service.

When asked why she joined the WATC, Joyce said: “We were asked to volunteer, and we volunteered.”

Her first job was cooking one-egg teacakes for the Toc H, a place that provided rest and recreation for service people. The WATC was also viewed as a place to train women for possible future roles in the Air Force.

Joyce then volunteered to work at the Laverton Nurses Quarters as a domestic.

“I loved every second of it. The boys treated us like the nurses, they saluted us,” she said.

“We had our row of seats in the camp cinema. It was a lovely life, and we worked our little hearts out.”

The WAAAF was formed in March 1941 and Joyce was the 57th person to join. Towards the end of her service Joyce enlisted in the AWAS and drove ambulances until the end of the war.

“When the war ended all the ambulances had to line up at Spencer Street Station. We picked up people in the ambulances and drove them to hospital. They were all POWs, the ones I remember. We drove through screaming crowds.”

While Joyce was coy about revealing her age to the Midland Express (so as not to let the ladies at the Woodend Bowling Club know!), we can say she was 19 when she joined the WAAAF.


The Dawn Service begins at 6am and runs for an hour. Access is via bus only. Cameron Drive on Mount Macedon will be closed to all private vehicles including bicycles.

People wishing to attend the Dawn Service are encouraged to book a seat on one of the free bus services that will operate from towns across the Macedon Ranges and Sunbury. Bookings can be made via or by phoning (03) 5422 1788.

Alternatively, a continuous shuttle bus service will also operate from Tony Clarke Reserve, Waterfalls Road, Macedon from 4:15am. Bookings are not required for this shuttle service.

Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring a water bottle and torch. A sausage sizzle, tea and coffee will be available. A gold coin donation would be appreciated, or you can donate online at