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Three Things to See on Anzac Day in Sydney Australia

Jun 10, 2008
Anzac Day is a significant day, a significant cultural day for all Australians.It happens on the 25th of April every year, and it is marked by some memorial services, marches, some celebrations and some fairly unusual games of chance as well.

So brief story of Anzac Day and the Anzacs. The word itself Anzac A-N-Z-A-C stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. This is a name that was given to the combined forces of Australia and New Zealand in the First World War. Anzac Day itself is a commemoration of a very famous battle for the Australian and New Zealanders. It is a commemoration of the battle at Gallipoli that occurred on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The battle itself was not particularly significant in the context of the entire World War I campaign. However for those forces involved, it was definitely a significant and quite a horrific battle and campaign that occurred. The campaign itself was a matter of the allied troops planning to land and take Istanbul. So on the 25th of April in 1915, the Australian-New Zealand forces part of the allied contingent landed at Gallipoli.

It was intended to be a very bold aggressive move as part of the campaign to capture Istanbul, however the Turks fiercely defended the land and it pretty quickly became a pretty huge stalemate. And that stalemate endured for around 8 months. At the end of 8 months over eight thousand Australians had been killed in that campaign and two-and-a-half thousand New Zealanders had also been killed.

It was not a successful campaign or attack by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it was something of a disaster. Which is yet another reason why Anzac Day itself is not about glorifying war, it is about celebrating the Anzac's spirits, the spirits that was showed by those soldiers.

Today on average over ten thousand Australian & New Zealanders actually make something of a pilgrimage back to the Gallipoli Peninsula to celebrate the dawn service on the grounds at Suvla Bay, on that battleground where the Australian forces actually landed.

There are 3 main events that really characterize Anzac Day.

The first one is the dawn service. The Anzac's landed at Gallipoli at dawn and for that reason, a dawn service is conducted commemorating Anzac Day on 25th of April each year. There is a very large one that occurs in Martin Place in the city, many thousands of people attend it. There are lots of defense members supporting it, a Cataflaque Party providing an escort, there's speeches and the last post.

As well as this large dawn service in Martin Place in the city, also all through Sydney and all through New South Wales and Australia there are many, many smaller dawn services. These are usually conducted at RSLs and RSLs sub-branches, a Return Serviceman's League club established by return servicemen.

Usually in the vicinity of most suburban RSLs, there will be a dawn service where as similar as they are in the city, but in a small scale. They are all equally solemn, all equally significant cultural activities.

An Anzac Day march occurs in the city each year. It starts from a variety of locations, usually Hyde Park, a number of other spots in the city and finishes in Martin Place.

Unfortunately, there is not too many of the World War I veterans, but there are World War II veterans still around, it is a fact that we're getting more and more younger veterans coming through the ranks and being involved in the march. The march itself is huge, there are many thousands of people in there recognizing the contribution of all these veterans and it's very humbling to witness.

Celebrations generally follow straight after the march. There are a lot of celebrations, lots of people will have plenty of drinks and food, and play some games. Particularly in Sydney city itself there is always marching bands that always been involved in the march, supporting that march. They will often then continue to just march around the city, in and out of hotels and bars and pubs, with playing their bagpipes or their drums, providing some entertainment to the people celebrating there.

Australians also play some interesting games on Anzac Day. The primary one that you will see, which can be a little bit bewildering, is Two-Up. Now this is a pretty unusual game. This is a game of chance, a gambling game. In New South Wales Two-Up is illegal except for on Anzac Day when it is legal to conduct Two-Up.

It can be quite difficult to describe Two-Up. Essentially, "The Spinner", the person with a piece of stick something like a ruler, places 2 coins on it. The coins are flipped it up and people bet on whether the coins will land with 2 heads, 2 tails or 1 of each. That is about as simple as it gets. People get very passionate about it.

Two-Up was played by diggers all through World War I, when the soldiers had some down time, they would often play Two-Up. The game has just flown on through the years, and now it is something that is enormous in and around the pubs and bars around Sydney and Australia on Anzac Day.
About the Author
Garry Searle has lived in Sydney, for 15 years. His podcast, The Sydney
Visitor, is the free authoritative guide to experiencing the sights and sounds
of Sydney Australia. To
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