The day before ANZAC day, time to start the pilgrimage down to ANZAC cove. Very unorganised Fez tour people but it all worked out as we ended up on a bus with a great bunch of people... bus 61! Took pretty much most of the day to make it down to the Gallipoli peninsula, with lots of stops on the way.
Got down there about 3:30 and went for a walk around up the top near the museum and saw some trenches that had been restored to what they looked like during the war, not very big at all. Apparently as the trenches we so close together only 8 metres or so at night when both sides had stopped fighting, they used to trade things the Allies would throw over smokes to the Turkish and the turks would throw back tomatoes and local produce! It really was gentlemans war. The views were just amazing over the coastline but hard to call this place beautiful when so much evil has happened here.
Kept continuing on down the hill and stopped at some cemetaries and the head stones of those that gave their lives and the inscriptions that their family back home chose to put on them, was very moving. Then it was down to ANZAC cove to make our beds for the night under the stars. Lovely hot day but as soon as the sun went down it got cold really cold, thermals came in very handy.
There was movies about Gallipoli and interviews with historians on the big screen T.Vs all night but tried to get some sleep, only had about an hour on and off, but no compaints from anyone. At midnight we had a message from John Howard in Australia and Helen Clark in New Zealand. And later we got a glimpse of what the dawn services were at home in Aus. Then it was time for our dawn service. I can't describe it... very emotional had speeches from a few people and the sphinx rock up behind us in the cliffs started glowing with the first rays of sunlight, its sort of what the ANZACS might have seen when they first landed on the beach that morning 92 years ago.
The ode and the last post were very emotional and then after a minute silence hearing all of us proud Aussies sing our national antheum with such gusto, that was when I cried. Just a very emotional and like I said words can't really describe the setting, the emotions and the general feel of the place and the service.
I was amazed at the amount of younger people there, most around their 20's I think it has become a sort of pilgrimage that we have to do.
After the dawn service we slowly packed up our things and made the trek up the hill to the Australian Memorial Service at Lone Pine. Hard work as it was quite warm and we still had all our thermals on! Lone Pine where one of the bloodest battles happened 6th-9th August 1915. Sitting amongst the headstone of those who gave their lives so galantly, without thought of self was very emotional.
Brenon Nelson our defence minister gave a speech at the service and he retold a diary entry of one of the frontline soilders
"rollcall after the battle for lone pine was the absolute hardest day as only 42men of our original 525 squadron answered. It was after then I finally cried"
Again we had the last post and the national antheum and very heavy stuff. It was a beautiful service and the setting there is just so peaceful with that lone pine tree and the stands all around it.
Walked up past the turkish Service that had a lot of noise, this is a big day for them as well, they were very patriotic which was good to see. However they mainly celebrate a day in March when they stopped the Allies from entering the Dardenelles.
All the way up the hills past baby 700 hill and finally up to the NZ service at Chunik Blar.
Then it was time to try and get back on a bus and back to the mainland. Somehow amongst the thousands of people and hundreds of buses all of aour great bus 61 managed to get on the right bus as it drove past. Could not believe it i was speechless.
Bus down to crappy BBQ and they didn't even come through with a beer as promised. We started to rebel a bit as we all hadn't had much sleep so while our bus was queing to get on the ferry to get over to the mainland we all found a cafe and had a couple of beers to cheers to the diggers and celebrate our ANZAC heros!