Australia

Thousands gather across Australia for Anzac Day dawn services

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Thousands have attended Anzac Day dawn services across the nation to commemorate the sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women.

Sydney

Thousands of people have gathered in central Sydney to commemorate Anzac Day as photos of diggers are being projected onto Charles House in Sydney's Martin Place.

In Sydney, AirCommander Australia, Air Vice Marshall Steven Roberton, delivered the address lauding the original Anzacs, members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.

"They changed that simple acronym of their Army Corps into a word that stands for unity and mateship, courage and determination," he said.

He said the legacy of Anzac day needed to be continued, more than 100 years since the tragic landing.

"Anzac day is not about glorifying war, but about celebrating the Australian spirit, which we share with the New Zealand counterparts," he said.

"Anzac signifies strength and quality of character, attitude and action that transcends time.

"The challenge for us here this morning is to ensure that the spirit of Anzac is passed on to our children and, in so doing, honour the fallen and their sacrifice."

He acknowledged Anzac Day caused pain for many.

"For some, it is a day of grief and tragedy, of immeasurable loss and deep mourning for loved ones and mates lost in battles. But for others, this is a day of pride and of mateship."

A image showing soldiers is projected on a building during the Anzac Day Dawn service at Martin Place in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
A image showing soldiers is projected on a building during the Anzac Day Dawn service at Martin Place in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, NSW Governor David Hurley were among the thousands gathered for the service.

Families with young children are among those to have come to the Cenotaph for this year's Anzac Day dawn service in the city.

Later on Wednesday, female veterans will lead the march in Sydney for the first time to mark 103 years since Anzac troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

Steel bollards have been positioned along the Sydney CBD march route while CCTV and airport-style bag checks will be utilised. Uniformed and plainclothes police will patrol the streets.

In another first, RSL NSW will fundraise for the 2018 Invictus Games after president James Brown announced in 2017 the charity would stop fundraising for itself following a scandal over the misuse of funds.

The games are a Paralympic-style sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

Crowds gather during the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Crowds gather during the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Canberra

In the cold and darkness, crowds have flocked to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for a dawn service commemorating the Anzacs and those who followed.

Up to 50,000 people are expected for the service, the 103rd anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.

A general view of the crowd during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
A general view of the crowd during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Benjamin Sime reads letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war firsthand during the dawn service at the National War Memorial in Canberra, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Benjamin Sime reads letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war firsthand during the dawn service at the National War Memorial in Canberra.
AAP

Former opposition leader Kim Beazley will delivered the formal commemorative address while one of Australia's last Rats of Tobruk, 97-year-old Bob Semple, also speak.

Hundreds of former Australian Army Apprentices are among the crowds - they'll mark the 70th anniversary of their formation by leading the march later in the morning.

After a centruy of war and left behind severed limbs and broken bodies, veteran Army surgeon Colonel Susan  Neuhaus reflected on her time serving in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bouganville.

The first woman to deliver a commemorative address at the Canberra dawn service, she recalled her childhood experiences of the early morning Anzac Day commemoration.

As a girl she did not understand the silence "of half murmured hymns and of old men lost in their own thoughts".

"And yet somehow those stories of service and sacrifice ground themselves into my DNA," she said.

"Like most Australians today I have no faded photographs of men or women in uniform on my mantelpiece and don't know of any family members who served on the beaches of Gallipoli, on the muddy fields of Somme or indeed the jungles of South East Asia.

Jeff Ward, a transport officer who served for more than 20 years, is among them with his wife Cathy, who served as a nurse.

"There's 800 of us, more than 800 now. It's out of control," Mr Ward said. It's expected to be the largest contingent leading a march in several years.

Melbourne

Despite serving in the army for six years, ex-soldier Chris Walters still struggles to see Anzac Day as for him.

"I still never see today as respect to me ... I still think of my grandfather (who) served, my dad was in the RAAF for 20 years," he told AAP at the Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

The former soldier is one of the thousands of people, including children, who have poured into the Shrine for Wednesday's dawn service, a century after World War One.

Crowds gather during the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Crowds gather during the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Surgeon Annette Holian's military battles involved scalpels, anaesthetic, blood and dressings.

The Group Captain and first serving woman to address an Anzac Day dawn service in Melbourne told the tens of thousands packed around the Shrine of Remembrance about courage on the field.

"My medals represent personal hardship, specific challenges and many victories. Medical battles with scalpels, antiseptics, blood and dressing," she said.

"They remind me of the emotion we faced living in the devastation in Aceh, its streets and rivers choked with the debris of thousands of bodies."

An estimated 35,000 attended Wednesday's service, which marks 100 years since the WWI battle of Villers-Bretonneux when Australian soldiers and their allies recaptured crucial territory from the Germans.

The numbers swelled by 10,000 from last year which organisers attributed to better weather and the ongoing commitment of Victorians to honouring service and sacrifice.

Brisbane

Thousands of people gathered in drizzling rain in Brisbane's CBD for the dawn service.

Armed with umbrellas and coffees, the crowds filled Anzac Square and the surrounding overpasses to honour those who have fought and died at war.

Debbie Radford, from Brisbane, says it's an important tradition to remember the sacrifices made by many Australians, including her great uncle, who fought in World War II.

A family grieves during Anzac Day commemorations in Brisbane, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
A family grieves during Anzac Day commemorations in Brisbane, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

"We started attending the dawn services a number of years ago with our children and we were fortunate enough to go to Gallipoli in 2015 to go to the dawn service there. It was amazing what those young men went through," she told AAP.

Hobart

Hundreds of people have gathered at the Hobart Cenotaph to commemorate Anzac Day at the annual dawn service.

Rugged up on a cool Wednesday morning, the crowd will pause to remember Australia's servicemen and women at the Queens Domain which overlooks Hobart.

"This is only one day a year when we all take time to remember.  It's not much to give up," Paul Thompson, 57, whose dad served with the British Royal Navy in World War Two, told AAP.

Adelaide

A 12-hour overnight vigil held at the South Australian National War Memorial by representatives from local youth groups ended early on Wednesday morning.

People arriving for the service are being greeted by reflective music sung by the Barton Singers and the South Australian Primary Schools Choir.

Veteran of the Indian Army Marvin Bunting at the Dawn service at the National War memorial in Adelaide, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Veteran of the Indian Army Marvin Bunting at the Dawn service at the National War memorial in Adelaide, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

The service will begin at 6.01am local time with the arrival of Governor Hieu Van Le, his wife, and the catafalque party.

The crowd will be addressed by Ian Smith, chair of the RSL South Australia's Anzac Day committee, with various politicians and representatives due to lay wreaths.

Darwin

Thousands of Darwin residents attending the Dawn Service have been told Anzac Day holds a particular resonance for them given the city's history of being attacked during World War II.

More than 90 bombs were dropped on the city 76 years ago, and Darwin was still home to 12,000 defence force personnel to whom the nation is grateful, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion told the crowd.

The Dawn Service is held at the cenotaph overlooking Darwin harbour.

Among the thousands of people at Darwin's Anzac Day dawn service was World War II veteran and former prisoner of war Charlie Parrott, who is 98-years-old and still going strong.

He was captured in Crete and survived four years in a German POW camp in Poland, where the often bitter cold and snow nearly killed him, and feels lucky to have lived.

"It was pretty tough going, I hope we never have to go through it again," he told AAP, while laughing.

"I did not serve my country as much as I'd like to because I was taken prisoner of war.

"I don't like looking back, but I've had a very lucky life." Thousands of people attending the Dawn Service were told how Anzac Day holds a particular resonance for the city, given it's history of being attacked during World War II.

The words Lest We Forget are projected onto a building during the Anzac Day Dawn service at Martin Place in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
The words Lest We Forget are projected onto a building during the Anzac Day Dawn service at Martin Place in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Perth

Crowd numbers were down slightly this year at the Kings Park State War Memorial service, with about 30,000 people in attendance.

Brigadier Peter Moore told the crowd that Anzac Day was about remembering and honouring those who have served their country.

"We are not here to glorify war," he said. "We are here to reflect on the almost incomprehensible sacrifice of so many young lives in so many conflicts that Australia has been involved in and recognise the service of all."

"Little did the soldiers who landed on April 25, 1915 imagine what they were embarking on would become the thing of legend."

Brigadier Moore also acknowledged those who continue to serve.

"Freedom only survives as long as there are people who are willing to defend it," he said.

"This is the Anzac spirit handed down to us and is ours to pass on to future generations."

Among the dignitaries at the dawn service who laid a wreath was West Australian Deputy Premier Roger Cook and WA Governor Kerry Sanderson.

Mr Cook said he was pleased to see so many young people at the ceremony.

"I think it's an opportunity for all of us to think about individual sacrifice of the young men and women, but it's also an opportunity for us to talk about our humanity and our expressions of freedom and the values that come with it," he told reporters.

After the dawn service, there was an Aboriginal corroboree and Maori haka performance.

It was the first time such a tribute was held involving both cultures.

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