Anzac Day. It was once a staid commemoration of the 1915 military campaign in Gallipoli, but is now a festival of Australian identity of the highest order.
Over 8000 pilgrims will travel to Turkey for the Dawn Service on Friday, ahead of an expected 10,500 for the centenary next year. But if you can’t be on the beach at Lone Pine, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Anzac Spirit right here in Australia. Here are a few activities we’d recommend.
Those who’re willing to make the trek into the city for the 4.30am Dawn Service in Martin Place deserve their tot, while others will prefer to watch the 9am parade as marches through Pitt Street, Martin Place, George and Bathurst Streets, to Elizabeth Street and a 12.30pm Commemoration Service at the ANZAC Memorial. A Sunset Service will also be held at the Martin Place cenotaph.
Retiring to the Returned Service’s League Club of your choice is also a time-honoured tradition. While selecting a preferred RSL is a deeply personal choice, we’d suggest that the North Bondi and Cronulla Clubs have two of the best aspects in the land.
Back in town, small bar Easy Tiger will be serving Young Henry’s Real Ale on tap, while punters can play plenty of two-up while listening to The Owls, Spirit Valley, Civilians and guitarist Steve Smyth.
Meanwhile the Royal Paddington will be hosting two (two!) two-up arenas, and the Four in Hand will be serving its much-feted fare while playing the AFL, NRL and Rugby games simultaneously. For craft beer lovers, the Australian Brewery will be taking over the taps at the Quarryman in Pyrmont, and the Dove & Olive will be putting on a special Anzac menu.
Australia’s most observant Anzac attendees are in Perth, where the world’s largest dawn service takes place in Kings Park. Over 50,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event, and big screens will be mounted along Fraser Avenue to cope with the overflow. The service commences at 6.00 am at the State War Memorial, though you’d want to find a place well before that. The main parade will begin at 9.30am St Georges Terrace, move onto Barrack St, Riverside Drive and conclude in Stirling Gardens with an 11am service.
Once you’ve attended the march, why not head down to the Freemantle RSL Club for a cold beer and a round (or ten) of two-up. Then, in the evening, buzzy Brissy band Ball Park Music will be playing Studio 146, where they’ll be joined by Jesse Davidson.
In Melbourne, St. Ali in South Melbourne will open early to serve much-needed caffeine to those headed to the Dawn Service. It starts at the imposing Shrine of Remembrance at 6am, while a march goes front he intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets back to the Shrine at 9am.
For later in the day, Mountain Goat Brewery in Richmond will be opening its doors, and its final keg of Australian Pale Ale to mark the occasion. Cafe Vue has a specially-prepared Anzac menu, replete with gunfire breakfast of hen’s yolk, pancetta, beans and Vegemite toast and prawns on the barbie.
Caulfield RSL and the Mail Exchange Hotel are also favourites on the two-up circuit, if you’re looking for that more traditional Anzac Day atmosphere.
For the more culturally-inclined, Melbourne filmmaker Aaron wilson’s new film Canopy about an Australian soldier in war-torn Singapore at Cinema Nova and Palace Cinemas. Then, later in the evening, long-time favourite DJ Krafty Kuts will be headlining an Anzac Day BBQ at the Royal Melbourne Hotel.
And then there’s the big one – the AFL’s Anzac Day blockbuster at the MCG between Essendon and Collingwood. If you can get a ticket.
In Adelaide, the Dawn Service kicks off at the State National War Memorial, North Terrace, at 6.15am; at Light Horse Memorial, Cnr North & East Terraces at 8.15am; and the Railways Memorial, Cnr North & West Terraces, 8am
If you’ve still got a lot of energy after the Dawn Service, you can make your way to what’s likely to be one of the country’s best Anzac Day parties at Groovin the Moo, where Disclosure, Dizzee Rascal, Naked and Famous and The Presets will be rockin it (for all ages). For those not quite in the mood for a festival, head down to the Wheatsheaf Hotel to drink a few good brews, play a few rounds of two-up and catch a band later on.
Not to be topped, Brisbane will be holding not only a dawn service (4.28am), but a Midnight Service at 12:45am by the Shrine of Remembrance. A march runs from corner George and Elizabeth Street at 10am.
Queenslanders have only recently been legally allowed to play two-up since 2012, though it’s essentially a formality, because it never stopped them in the past. These days you can flip ‘em loud and proud at the The Story Bridge Hotel, which kicks off at 2pm. You could also go down to Shady Palms for no other reason than we like it there.
Down in Hobart, people will begin assembling at the cenotaph in Queens Domain at 5.30am, then head to the Hobart Worker’s Club for a Gunfire Breakfast. The parade begins at Macquarie Street at 11am, and returns to the cenotaph.
The Republic Bar on Elizabeth Street is doing its own unique interpretation of Anzac, with ‘Hobart’s favourite Anzac band,’ Boil Up, a Tassie act that does Kiwi and Pacific Islander reggae. Why not?
In the top end, the Dawn Service begins at the Cenotaph at 6am, then at 9am the march heads along the Esplanade, along Knuckey Street into Cavenagh and concludes at the Civic Centre.
The Mindil Beach Markets are re-opening this week, with a huge range of ethnic street food – though they’re returning at sunset on Thursday and Sunday, so perhaps you can fit them in at the start, or end, of your long weekend.
On Anzac Day itself, the place to be is, of course, the Darwin RSL club, where the two-up kicks off at 11.30am and goes until you’re cleaned out.
At the Australian War Memorial’s Dawn Service this year, haunting images of fallen troops who served in Afghanistan will be projected on the building’s walls. Over 35,000 people are expected to attend the event, which begins at 4.25am. The national service begins at 10.15am, and will be attended by officials including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Those who’re up early can pop into one of the local cafes, including Elk and Pea, which will be serving coffee from 5.30am, and Paleo Perfection in Kingston, which is handing out free Anzac biscuits.
Canberran two-up punters will have to attend the Canberra Bowls Club, the temporary home of the Canberra Services Club as it rebuilds. Games can also be had at the Duxton or the Dickson Tradies, which kicks off at noon.
It’s the one day of the year you’re permitted, nay, encouraged, to openly gamble in public. In honour of one of the Digger’s favourite pastimes, folks can bust out their billfolds for a game of two-up anywhere they damn well please, so long as they can find a fellow punter to bet against. So get out on the street and make some money from your neighbours. Or strangers. But remember – the police will take you away in their van for this kind of behaviour on any other day.