The Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

How to Commemorate Anzac Day in the Nation's Capital

20 April 2017

Anzac Day, on April 25, is a solemn time to remember the service of Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I, as well as all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. Anyone who has heard the sounding of the Last Post cannot fail to be moved, and one of the best places to commemorate the day is the nation’s capital.

With the help of our friends at Visit Canberra, we’ve put together some ideas for paying your respects in Canberra in the lead-up to, and on, this important day.

Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra at dawn. The Australian War Memorial at dawn is a moving place to be. Image: Getty

A shrine, museum and archive, the Australian War Memorial is the centrepiece of Canberra’s commemorations. Anzac events begin with the projection of images of Australian servicemen and women on to the Memorial Building, from Sunday, April 23, until the commencement of the Dawn Service at 5.30am on Anzac Day. In the hour before the Dawn Service, excerpts from letters and diaries of soldiers will be read aloud.

The national ceremony runs from 10.30am to 12 noon, beginning with a commemorative address, wreath laying, hymns, sounding of the Last Post, a minute’s silence, and the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand. The ceremony also incorporates the veterans’ march. Finally, the Last Post Ceremony starts at 4.45pm

The memorial has many moving exhibitions, and has recently acquired a rare silk carpet from the Ottoman Empire, which was made to commemorate the Turkish victory at Canakkale, which led directly to the assault on the Gallipoli pensinsula on April 25, 1915. It has also acquired a Sidney Nolan painting depicting stretcher-bearer John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey at Gallipoli.

National Gallery of Australia

Will Dyson's 'Eternal waiting' created with charcoal, pencil and wash on paper in 1917. Image: Australian War Memorial, Canberra/National Gallery of Australia Will Dyson's 'Eternal waiting' created with charcoal, pencil and wash on paper in 1917. Image: Australian War Memorial, Canberra/National Gallery of Australia

The Artists of the Great War exhibition (until June 2017) at the National Gallery gives a fascinating insight into the front-line experiences of personnel during World War I, and features many works by Will Dyson, Australia’s first official war artist.

National Archives of Australia

An unidentified Aboriginal soldier, thought to have served with the 20th Australian Infantry Battalion on the Western Front during World War I (1914–18). Photographer: E.H. Hazell, reproduced courtesy of the Australian War Memorial/National Archives of Au An unidentified Aboriginal soldier, thought to have served with the 20th Australian Infantry Battalion on the Western Front during World War I (1914–18). Photographer: E.H. Hazell, reproduced courtesy of the Australian War Memorial/National Archives of Australia

The lesser-known stories of Indigenous soldiers are told through two exhibitions at the National Archives – Facing Two Fronts: The Fight for Respect (until December 31, 2017) and Indigenous Australians at War (until July 16, 2017). The exhibitions celebrate their courage, tenacity and resourcefulness.

National Carillon

The National Carillon towers over Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. The National Carillon will perform a special recital on Anzac Day. Image: Getty

This stunning, 50-metre tall landmark features 55 bronze bells, a gift of the Briitish Government to the people of Australia on the 50th anniversary of the national capital. Aspen Island is a great place for a picnic and to listen to a carillon recital. On Anzac Day, the bells will toll in remembrance from 12.30pm and Waltzing Matilda and Botany Bay will be played, among other pieces of music, finishing up with And the Band Played Walzing Matilda.

* Featured image: The Australian War Memorial. Image: Getty


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Renae Spinks

Travel for me is about conversations and connections. There’s nothing like setting foot in a new land and meeting people a world apart. From talking to North Sea fishermen in Norway’s Lofoten Islands to breakfast chat at a B&B in my own back yard, there’s always a story to share and a tale to tell.