What is Anzac Day all about?

Anzac day ceremonies 2001 in Turkey. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Some of you may have seen the parades in Australia and New Zealand on Monday and wondered what all the fuss is about.

Well we probably should have posted this blog last week, but here’s some help anyway for you next year!

Downunder Anzac Day is possibly more important than our national days.  The origins of it date back to WWI when ANZACS (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) fought at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.

Many died in the campaign to capture the Turkish peninsula and the bravery and resolve of the men who battled it out there has become legendary and did much to help form the identity of our nations. Qualities like mateship, standing by your friends, seeing a job through and courage under fire have become much prized as a result.

Anzac Day is also commemorated in the Cook Islands, Tonga and Niue and has been extended to include all those who have served their nation whether that be in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Borneo, PNG, Somalia etc.

While it is viewed very solemnly it is also a day in which to celebrate who Aussies and Kiwis are and so the public holiday should be enjoyed and you’ll see people getting out having picnics, meeting friends and family, playing cricket in the park and so on celebrating the freedom we can now enjoy.

Every single city and town in Australia and New Zealand will have some sort of parade and service. There’s usually a dawn service marking the time the Anzacs landed on the peninsula, then a parade about mid morning followed by the service.

Anzac Day 1996 in Brisbane. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Many people will also travel to key places like:
– the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey
– the Hellfire Pass in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
– Le Quesnoy and Longueval and Villers-Bretonneux (France) who were liberated on 25 April 1918 by the Anzacs
– Long Tan, Vietnam
– Anzac Day is also observed in places like London, Port Moresby, Berlin, Hong Kong, Indonesia and many other places

I attended the service at Anzac Cove in Turkey several years ago and found it very moving. Last year I was here in Brisbane at a local RSL and on Monday I was out in regional Queensland. I’ve also been to big parades. All the events I’ve been to have been equally meaningful, bigger doesn’t mean better.

So if you’re downunder for Anzac Day next year make sure you get out to see what it’s all about. Go see the parade, join the service and head to your local RSL (Returned Services League) to honour the veterans, have a drink or even a good meal.

You don’t need to be an Aussie or Kiwi to join in.


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at blog@vipbackpackers.com


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