What is The Borella Ride?

The Borella Ride took place between 20 February and 3 March 2015 and was the flagship Anzac Centenary activity for the Northern Territory. The Borella Ride retraced the remarkable journey that the Territory’s only Victoria Cross receipient, Albert Borella, made to enlist in the Great War in 1915.

How can I find out what happened during The Borella Ride?

You can watch the daily video highlights from the Ride and also read the blog from the journey.

We have also updated the website to include information about what happened at each stop along the way:

Tennant Creek
Banka Banka
Renner Springs
Daly Waters
Pine Creek
Adelaide River

Why did you recreate Albert Borella’s journey?

The Centenary of Anzac Commemorative Program will run from 2014-2018 and will commemorate significant events for Australia from World War I (WWI) and other conflicts.

World War I dramatizations invariably depict the ease of signing up – depicting Australians as just walking into their local recruiting hall. Albert Borella, who received a Victoria Cross for his fight on the Western front, had a personal battle just to apply his signature to the correct form. The Borella Ride was the Northern Territory Government flagship Anzac Centenary activity, retracing the journey of Albert Borella, the Northern Territory’s only Victoria Cross recipient to enlist in the Great War.

Where did The Borella Ride travel?

Albert Borella’s journey to enlist in the Great War is believed to have started in the Tennant Creek Region in January 1915.

The Borella Ride retraced Albert Borella’s footsteps, beginning in Tennant Creek travelling along the Stuart Highway through to Darwin.

How long did the journey take?

In 1915, the journey took Albert Borella about six weeks to complete. The Borella Ride retraced this journey over 12 days, from 20 February to 3 March.

Where can I find out about other Anzac Centenary Events?

Between 2014 and 2018 Australia will commemorate the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since our nation’s involvement in the First World War. The Anzac Centenary is a milestone of special significance to all Australians.

To find out what is happening in the Northern Territory – www.dcm.nt.gov.au/anzac_centenary

To find out what is happening Nationally – www.anzaccentenary.gov.au

Why was Albert Borella in the Northern Territory?

Albert Borella, originally from Victoria, was lured to the Territory with offers of pastoral land and prosperity in the Daly River district in 1913. Borella, along with two partners, Ronald Parker and Albert Lewis, applied for a farming lease in January 1913 and gained a hold over pastoral land west of the Daly River. After two trying years on the unfamiliar farming land of the Northern Territory, Borella handed back his lease and took a job as a cook with a survey party travelling throughout the Territory. Soon, news was spreading across Australia of the Great War.

What did Albert Borella’s journey to enlist entail?

Albert Borella’s journey to sign up for the Great War paints a picture of the tough man he was. It wasn’t as simple as walking into a local recruiting hall. To enlist, volunteers needed to travel to the nearest recruitment office. Early 1915, Borella set off in the harsh Territory climate by foot, walking from Tennant Creek to Renner Springs at times swimming flooded creeks. He then rode by horseback to Katherine, hitched a ride to Pine Creek on a horse-drawn mail coach, and then caught the train from Pine Creek to Darwin. However, his journey did not end there…. Borella then travelled by ship to Townsville, all the while not knowing whether he would even be accepted to serve in the Great War.

Did Albert Borella have to serve in the Great War?

Albert Borella was one of the many hundreds of thousands, who served Australia in World War I. There were no conscriptions for the Great War, but a great sense of duty amongst almost all Australians.

Where did Albert Borella serve in the Great War?

Albert Borella was formally enlisted into the Australian Army on 15 March 1915. According to his family, he “wanted to join the Light Horse as everyone did” but was taken into the infantry, the most dangerous occupation of all military life. Borella served in Gallipoli and then on the Western Front in Europe.

Why was he awarded the Victoria Cross?

Albert Borella was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in battle, displaying great courage and leadership in infantry fighting against the Germans. Borella had previously also received the Military Medal, a highly regarded honour, and a Mention in Despatches, also a most distinguished award, for his actions on the battlefield.

What did Albert Borella do after the Great War?

Albert Borella returned to Australia on board the ship Marathon on 1 January 1919. He returned to Victoria where he married and began a family. He again served Australia in World War II, being appointed Lieutenant in the 12th Australian Garrison Battalion with which he served until 1941 when he was attached to the Prisoner of War Group at Rushworth. Promoted Captain on 1 September 1942, Borella served with the 51st Garrison Company at Myrtleford until discharged at the war’s end in 1945. Borella then moved to Albury, New South Wales, joining the Commonwealth Department of Supply and Shipping, and worked as an inspector of dangerous cargoes until his retirement in 1956. Survived by his wife and two of his four sons, Albert Borella VC died on 7 February 1968 and was buried with full military honours at the Albury Presbyterian cemetery.