What to Do in Sydney on ANZAC Day 2015

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On the 25th of April, 1915, the combined forces of Australia and New Zealand (ANZAC) landed on the beach of Gallipoli, Turkey to capture the Dardanelles from the Ottoman Empire. The goal was to provide safe passage to allied navies that would then allow for an attack on the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul). The battle of Gallipoli is recognised as one of the most brutal battles in the First World War, with both sides experiencing heavy losses before the allies finally retreated 8 months later.

There was a loss of 11,400 Australian and New Zealand soldiers, and their sacrifices are commemorated each year on the 25th of April, with dawn and day services taking place around the world. In Australia, dawn services are held in every major city, and have become one of the oldest and proudest Australian traditions.

Due to the increasing turnouts, what was once a simple ceremony has evolved into something much larger and more elaborate. Originally, the dawn services were limited to the veteran’s families, a chaplain and a lone bugler, with day services open to the general public. Today, however, Anzac day is a recognised public holiday, with many spending the day to remember and celebrate our brave armed forces at events throughout the day.

Camp Gallipoli

This year, ANZAC services begin a day earlier with a special camp designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary since the battle of Gallipoli. The event is designed to celebrate the ANZAC spirit through documentaries, movies, special guests, musical acts, dinner, breakfast, and of course the special dawn service.

The event begins with an official opening and several musical acts before the beginning of the light horse procession. This marks the return of the 11,400 souls to Australia and New Zealand, with the RSL Anzac flame travelling from Albany in Western Australia to Canberra, and then finally Sydney. Following the conclusion of the ceremony, a traditional Australian dinner will be served before interviews and history videos are shown.

From 8pm onwards, the final musical acts, including Jon Stevens and Mahalia Barnes, will perform before a short Gallipoli film is shown at 9pm. Once the film is finished, lights out will take place so as to give everyone enough sleep for the dawn service the next day.

Following the dawn service, a hot breakfast will be served before the closure of the camp.

In Sydney, the camp will be held in Centennial Park. For more information or to find out where other camps will be held around Australia, check out Camp Gallipoli.

Dawn Service in Sydney – 4:30am

If you want to attend a dawn ceremony while in Sydney, look no further than the main event held at The Cenotaph at Martin Place. Here you can expect to see a more lavish remembrance festival, complete with hymns, a prayer and address, the laying of the wreaths, a recitation, the last post, a period of silence for remembrance, the national anthem, and the Rouse or Reveille.

The ANZAC Parade – 9:00am

Following the dawn service, a parade will begin at 9am with veterans from all branches of the Australian, New Zealand, and Commonwealth armies taking part. The parade begins on the corner of Martin place and Pitt street, and will travel down George and Bathurst streets before finally coming to an end at Elizabeth street. This is one of the must-see events when in Sydney over ANZAC day, with each year boasting a bigger turnout than the last.

The Day Service – 12:30pm

After the parade concludes, a day service will begin at the ANZAC memorial in Hyde Park South, just across from Elizabeth street. The day service is not dissimilar to the dawn service, but is expected to be much larger due to its time and venue, so expect a different experience here.

Sunset Service – 5:00pm

To round off the day of events, a smaller, shorter service is held again at the Cenotaph at Martin Place. Accompanied by the New South Wales Ambulance Service Band, the event will pay final respects to the troops before the flags are lowered.

Play a game of two up

At the end of Anzac day, take a trip to your local pub and, for one day only, enjoy a game that was played by the troops. The game of two up, in which you guess whether two flipped coins will land on heads or tails, is legal only on Anzac day in remembrance of the troops who played it while back in the trenches and on the troop ships.

While you can visit and take part in all ceremonies, even visiting one will show you the true ANZAC spirit and how proud Australians are of their veterans. This really is a once in a lifetime experience, so make sure you get involved!