Sunday, April 26, 2009


Yesterday was ANZAC Day -- one of the biggest holiday's celebrated in Australia. And lots for us to learn and find out about. Many shops are closed, while others open only at lunchtime (except for outlets like Starbucks Coffee which was doing a roaring trade in the city in the morning). According to the Australian War Memorial website, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and the day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

Slade had an ANZAC Day ceremony at school on Friday, and Kai also learned about ANZAC Day, including doing a march around the school play area saluting children in the other classes! Slade got to make ANZAC biscuits -- a crunchie type of biscuit. Kai got given ANZAC biscuits at school. We also had some shop bought ones that come in special packaging.

April 25 is a special day for Australians as a day to remember soldiers who had died in war. The website states:
"In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soliders formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed."

ANZAC Day was officially named in 1916 and marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia, a march through London, and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt.

All states observed some form of public holiday on ANZAC Day from 1927. In subsequent years the meaning of the day was broadened to include Australians killed in all military operations in which Australia has been involved.

Commemorative services are held at dawn -- the time of the original landing -- and later in the day marches are held.

The turnout at the march was quite amazing -- and with all the marching bands and other groups, it reminded me of the American marches that I saw when I was there. There was lots of flag waving, and children and adults alike enjoying the march. It was really moving watching the people marching -- there were representatives from all sorts of regiments and divisions, some elderly people walking, in wheelchairs, in taxis and on golf carts, and adults and children wearing medals that belonged to relatives.

We had gone into the city on the train -- it was fun for the kids, parking in the city is expensive and it saved having to drive around amongst the throngs of people. After the march we walked across the Brisbane River to South Bank which is a wonderful area that was established when the World Expo was held in Brisbane. It has a fantastic man-made swimming area for the kids -- with sand beaches, water sprays, and a pebbled river-like area that's also great for playing. Slade had such fun building a wall of stones across the river!

After bumping into one of Slade's good friends we stayed at South Bank a little longer than we had planned, but we eventually persuaded the kids to head back to the nearest station and get the train back out of the city. We had parked at a really convenient station about five or 10 minutes from our house so it was fortunately a quick drive back home. We were all exhausted, but really enjoyed the experience of our first ANZAC Day in Australia.

1 comment:

Seneca said...

Very nice Blog Cheryl.

Yes ANZAC day is huge here too. In New Zealand it is regarded as the defining moment for the identity of the New Zealand Nation. It was truly national as Maori and Pakeha (European) stood side by side in battle at Gallipoli and formed an unbreakable bond.

We also have the Dawn Parade often in very cold conditions of, rain, snow, or frost but always well attended.

You may like to Google it to read more.

Lovely pictures of your family enjoying the rest of the day.

Our transport is good here but not as good as in Australia. In my case a 65+ age I have a Supergold Card for superannuitants (spelt right?) and have free unlimited travel in the Auckland region on train, bus, ferry. Very useful.

Thanks Cheryl I will keep looking at your blog.