How to Spend Anzac Day in Australia

the popular anzac biscuits

Observed as a day of national remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day falls on the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. The day was originally celebrated to recognise the soldiers who died in that battle, but now salutes all Australian and New Zealand soldiers, past and present, who have served.

Customarily, people in Australia and New Zealand assemble and meet for a sunrise ceremony known as the Dawn Service, which is regarded as one of the most cherished and well received ceremonies on Anzac Day.

Attend the Dawn Service in Canberra

Dawn Service at Australian War Memorial

The Dawn Service is said to have been called the “stand-to.” Usually, the opposite armies struck in the limited light of twilight as well as dawn. Watchful at all times, the Australian military prepared their soldiers to stay awake and be vigilant at their posts with weapons prepared before the other armies could attack. The Dawn Service recaptures those silent moments. Services include readings, hymns, as well as rifle volleys and gun salutes.

The rite also involves traditions like the Last Post (a military bugle call, symbolising the end of the day's activities), wreath laying, and a reading of the Ode of Remembrance. 

Situated in the capital of Canberra, the Australian War Memorial holds one of the biggest Anzac Day events. Note that there is no allocated seating for the Dawn Service. Those who want to join are encouraged to occupy the seating put in place for the National Ceremony, or simply stand on the Parade Ground. 

How to get here? You can pick up a rental car from the airport or from one of the city depots in Canberra. Alternatively, the city is over a three hour drive from Sydney. You'll find the Australian War Memorial at the end of Anzac Parade, at the roundabout where Limestone Avenue meets Fairburn Avenue.  Access to parking is via Treloar Cresent. 

Other services in Australia

Soldiers at ANZAC Day ceremony

The Anzac Day celebration in Sydney begins on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Martin Place. The Act of Remembrance is observed as participants pass the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park. The main Commemoration Service is set at the Anzac Memorial which is close to the Pool of Reflection. The ceremonies wrap up at night with the short Sunset Service happening at 5pm at the Cenotaph.

In Melbourne, commemorative services and marches are held at dawn at the Shrine of Remembrance. After the dawn service and march, the 'gunfire breakfast' recalls the 'breakfast' taken by many soldiers before facing battle. The Dawn Service is scheduled at 6am at the Shrine of Remembrance, as thousands of veterans are expected to march down St Kilda Road.

Brisbane holds a silent service at midnight , which is followed by a Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance. Between ten and fifteen thousand people march in Brisbane to show their support.

In Perth, the biggest Dawn Service in Western Australia starts at the State War Memorial on Fraser Avenue in Kings Park. This is followed by a Gunfire Breakfast for ex-servicemen at the Stirling Gardens, and the people to cover the  time between the Dawn Service and the parade, which concludes in a commemorative service at Langley Park.

Did you know? In honour of Anzac Day, Aussies and Kiwis enjoy baking and eating Anzac biscuits. It's a popular myth that they are named Anzac biscuits because they were delivered to the Anzac soldiers during the war. The traditional Anzac bikkie is made from a mixture of oats, flour, coconut, butter, sugar, golden syrup and a few other ingredients. These days, you can purchase these biscuits in major supermarket across Australia and New Zealand.

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