Dale’s Anzac Day

Dale, Sophie Sarah and Maisie wreath handling

Hi everybody, Dale here. Sorry for any bad spelling and grammar; We’ve all been up since midnight with only an hour or two sleep to get us through so we’re all a bit delirious at the moment!

After an early dinner we all tried to get as much sleep possible so we wouldn’t fall asleep during the dawn service (everybody made it although for Sophie only just). After a forceful awakening by the wakeup call we all got ready by rugging up with several layers in preparation for the Dawn Service. After a cup of tea to wake us up, we all boarded the coach for the trip to the memorial site. Once we got to the site the males and females were separated for security. Off course, for some unexplained natural phenomena the guys all managed to get through much quicker than the girls. We were given a show bag by the organizers full with goodies for us to enjoy. Walking into the memorial area, everybody was amazed by the mass of mulitcoloured sleeping bags that seem to occupy every spare space in the entire area. It was fascinating to realise that despite everybody’s differences they were all here for one reason, to commemorate and remember those who died for our nations. Luckily we had V.I.P seating passes; we made our way to our assigned seats where we met another group of students from the Tasmanian Frank Macdonald Prize sitting in front of us. Each state offers a Simpson Prize-esque tour to somewhere in the world. We were all extremely jealous when we found out that they were going to continue their journey onto the Western Front after Gallipoli. 


The previous day, we had bought 50 lira’s ($40) worth of chocolate to enjoy between all of us. In order to keep the crowds occupied for the long wait up until dawn, several audio-visual programs were shown. After we had watched some of the shows and eaten a mountain load of chocolate we went for a walk around the area. We ended up buying hot chocolate. Returning back to our seats it wasn’t long before we were hungry again, this time for our first Turkish kebabs for the trip. Eating them, Masie seemed as though she had died and gone to heaven.

Putting our best foot forward at the Dawn Service

Once again we returned to our seat. We continued to watch the programs. Everybody enjoyed the Maori dancing choir who had dressed in traditional garb (which looked freezing). Other shows everybody enjoyed was the New Zealand and Australian military band, a moving musical light show designed to represent the initial landing by the Anzacs and a slideshow of various Anzacs who had made the ultimate sacrifice at Gallipoli.

Fortunately the morning was warmer than previous ones which made the experience much more enjoyable for everyone. After several hours of waiting, the dignitaries began to make their way to their seats which signaled the start of the ceremony. After speeches from officials such as Governor General Quentin Bryce, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs Alan Griffin (he awarded us our certificates in Canberra) we were instructed to stand for the last post, two minutes of silence and reveille. After the moving bugle calls the national anthems of Turkey, New Zealand and Australia were performed. After this the ceremony came to its close and we started making our way towards the nearest exit.

Luckily Andrew managed to find the V.I.P exit which meant we were able to begin our trek up to Lone Pine far ahead of the masses. By now the sun was starting to warm the area and everybody shed their heavy jackets, jumpers, beanies and gloves. It was quite funny to see a group of eight students in dress pants and dress shoes walking up a steep gravel track. By the time we reached the summit of Artillery Road everybody was half dead from the heat. We made our way through security and got our seats in the front row. We freshened up and changed into our Simpson Prize polo’s. After more waiting around, more chocolate and a lot of panicking by the girls over their hair we were told by an official that the Governor General wanted to meet us. At this stage Alix nearly fell off the stand in excitement. We joked that if the GG didn’t meet us Alix would jump of the nearest cliff!

Meeting the Governor General

When the Governor General eventually arrived at the Lone Pine site we all crowded down on the lawn in wait. Before she reached us the host of the pre-ceremony show, comedian Warren Brown invited us up in front of the camera. Alice and Kimberly both spoke exceptionally well when they were interviewed by him. We returned to our waiting for our meeting with the GG. After a bit more patience and a lot more panicking by the girls over how they looked, ‘Her Excellency Quentin Bryce’ made her way towards us. Andrew introduced us all to her. She was very nice and friendly to all of us. She was very interested when she found out that Sharee was a teacher at her old school.

After our short meet with the Governor General we all made our way to our assigned positions for the ceremony. The structure of the Lone Pine ceremony was very similar to that of the Dawn Service. Quentin Bryce, Alan Griffin and several others all made speeches without incident. Eventually it was Alix’s turn to stand up and present her poem. Of course she did exceptionally well and despite one small slip up to the unassuming public she was perfect!

Alix ready to read

Then it was the rest of the groups’ turn to move into the limelight as wreath handlers for the dignitaries who would be laying them. Once again this all went off without any noticeable problems. Although before the ceremony began there had been a slight diplomatic incident. Originally it was planned for the New Zealand’s to lay their wreath before Turkey did but just before the service began Turkey was placed before New Zealand. Unfortunately, Andrew, who was sending us off with the wreaths seem to forget this new arrangement and tried to push me onto the platform carrying the New Zealand wreath in front of the Turks. Fortunately, the Turkish soldiers who were laying their wreath (the way they walk was a source of much amusement for all, as they had to kick their legs up in the air with each step) pushed past us.

After the formal ceremony was over, William and Kimberly laid a wreath on behalf of The Simpson Prize. We then made our way back down Artillery Road (which was much easier than the walk up) and back onto the bus. By now everybody was extremely tired and ready for a sleep. In fact Will was so desperate he ended up falling asleep in the hotels café before he even made his room.

The action team

Tomorrow we are leaving Gallipoli to return to Istanbul where we are all very excited about going to the Grand Bazaar!


4 responses to “Dale’s Anzac Day

  1. An exceptional report Dale! I, of course, was interested to hear about my go girl, Kimberley being interviewed in front of the masses. Safe journey home to you all.

  2. Margaret and David Wattchow

    Congratulations to all those aboard the Simpson Prize contingent. To the students you have all experienced and achieved so much. It is fantastic to read and view your entries, and to watch your composure and maturity in action- via modern telecommunication technologies. To those behind the scenes (Andrew, Sharee and Tracy) thank you for taking care of our precious children, and supporting them in their endeavours.
    PS Where are these special adults…we want to see you too 🙂

  3. Wow, the service looked so lovely! I saw you all and I thought Alix spoke very well!

    I miss you Sarahhh :p French is not the same without you!

    I hope you all have a great trip back to Istanbul, and that you all got a lot out of this amazing experience.

    Can’t wait to see you Sarah. :p

    Great Job Everyone! 🙂

  4. Congrats to all winners, you have all achieved so much. Hope you’re having a lovely time in Turkey and representing Australia well!
    Sophie, see you at Kates, yeah?

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