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WA's Most Iconic ANZAC Day Services and Sites

Lady with girl looking at the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial

Wednesday 25 April 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It’s also ANZAC Day and commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces on Gallipoli. ANZAC Day offers a chance to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunset services occur on 22nd, 23rd and 24th April at Kings Park and on the day itself, huge crowds start to gather at the State War Memorial on Fraser Avenue from 4.00am onwards for the 6.00am Dawn Service. From here many migrate to a gunfire breakfast from 7.00am at Government House Gardens. The Australian Defence Force will lead the march from the corner of Barrack Street and St Georges Terrace from 9.15am eventually arriving in Langley Park. From 11.00am a Commemorative Service (ticketed event) at the Perth Concert Hall will bring together the Salvation Army Perth Fortress Band and Perth Modern School Choir.

Albany is one of WA’s most iconic WWI sites. Just imagine the heartbreaking sight from Albany’s Mt Clarence on 1st November 1914 as over 41,000 Australian soldiers and horses departed for war. Sailing from King George Sound to their fate, they headed to Egypt and the Middle East for training before too many landed on the shores of Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.

On 11th November 1918 peace was declared; hence the birth of Remembrance Day. Out of the 416,809 Australian and New Zealand men who bravely enlisted, over 60,000 lost their lives and a further 156,000 were wounded or taken prisoner. A staggering casualty considering Australia only had a population of less than five million. During the war, thousands of Australian women volunteered for auxiliary service roles such as cooks, nurses, drivers and interpreters, often located close to the front line. The grief back home was overwhelming leaving those left behind, predominantly the women, to carry on the burden of supporting their families.

Albany is considered the birthplace of the Dawn Service tradition and the dawn service begins at 5.30am at Mt Clarence, although the crowds usually assemble at 4.15am. Live simulcasts are shown at the Albany Entertainment Centre (AEC), ANZAC Peace Park and the ANZAC Albany Festival at the National ANZAC Centre Grounds. A gunfire breakfast commences outside the AEC from 6.30am and the ANZAC Day Parade assembles outside the Albany Town Hall to march down Albany’s historic York Street and into the ANZAC Peace Park. The National ANZAC Centre hosts a Convoy Campout on 24-25th April for a unique dawn service with WWI themed experiences, performances and movie screenings.

Rottnest Island wasn’t always the carefree wonderland it is today. By September 1915, it was used as an internment for almost 1,000 Austrians and Germans living in Australia, as well as a Prisoner of War camp for 148 prisoners. Rottnest Island would also play a role in WWII in its defence of Fremantle. From 6.00am onwards the island holds a dawn service and ANZAC Day themed activities.

Broome’s pearling market plummeted during WWI as most of the town’s male population enlisted. During the war years, the only use of pearls was for buttons on the soldiers’ uniforms. Although many of the prominent families never returned to Broome after the war, the town once again became a thriving pearling town in the 1920s. An ANZAC Day Dawn Service is held at Bedford Park between Weld and Hamersley Street.

Services, marches and gunfire breakfasts are offered all over the metropolitan area, and beyond. It’s best to check with your local council or the Returned and Services League of Australia WA Branch (RSLWA) www.rslwa.org.au for details and ticketed events.

 

WWI captivated the imaginations of many creatives. For an insight into life in WA during this tragic era of our history:

Read: The Lighthouse Girl, by Dianne Wolfer. Set in Albany’s King George Sound, the book portrays the story of the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Fay, who collected the messages from soldiers and telegraphed them back home. So acclaimed, the Black Swan State Theatre Company transformed the story into a stage performance in May 2017.

Watch: Gallipoli. Directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Bill Hunter, this film needs no introduction and focuses on the lives of several Western Australian young men who enlisted in the Australian Army during WWI.

Visit: Australian National Centre. Overlooking King George Sound, the award-winning Australian National Centre opened on 1st November 2014 and uses multimedia, interactive technology and historical artefacts to connect the public with its war heroes. Reflect over the shared stories of our brave soldiers at the neighbouring Garrison restaurant with a gourmet meal and bevy in their honour.

Have you got an ANZAC story you’d like to share? Email Carmen.Jenner@catholichomes.com.au