Flight Centre's Trish Venz travels to Gallipoli to witness the Gallipoli Dawn Service. Trish experiences an emotional Anzac Day with her fellow Australian travellers. Trish, please share your experiences with us.
As we arrived in Turkey we were greeted by a sign that read "Top Deck", myself and five other people who'd been on the same flight were loaded onto a minivan and zoomed through the streets of hectic Istanbul. I was instantly grateful for the decision to do a five day tour rather than go it alone. This was going to be a once in a lifetime experience, a lifelong dream that I did not want to get wrong. We were later greeted by our guide at the hotel and given directions to a very secluded, but extremely funky bar a block away. The rest of the tour group members were already settled in and getting to know one another. Thus began the beginnings of an Anzac Day experience I will never forget.
The days that followed were packed full of culture shocks, magnificent photo opportunities, intriguing history and contrasting landscapes, as well as fabulous architecture and downright fun. Though, nothing prepared me for the emotional roller-coaster that was the Gallipoli Dawn Service. We arrived at Anzac Cove on the afternoon of April 24. The set up was fantastic, with grandstand seating and big screens and speakers set up for entertainment and educational documentaries that ran right through the night. As the sun dropped, so did the temperature. There were porta-loos and food stalls dotted around the place. Crowds of people wandered amongst them, on and off, before quickly going back to their sleeping bags and the warmth of bodies that had become their fast friends in the few days previous. At different times, the speakers would blare out gun fire and wake us up from a cold half sleep. We only had to endure the cold and noise for one night and would be home safe and sound the next day, having not been shot at and not losing any of our new friends. At that moment, I promised myself I'd stop complaining about the cold and lack of sleep and really start appreciating the spectacle. As dawn came closer and more and more tour companies began to arrive, we were asked to stand and move forward to make room.
Thousands of people fell deathly quiet at the rising of the sun. Tears fell freely as the ‘Last Post' was played. Following the service, we packed up our belongings and began trudging up the hill to the Lone Pine. Ahead of me was a sea of people. They'd all made the journey that is surely becoming a necessary pilgrimage for a young Australian. There were more tears at Lone Pine and yet more again at the New Zealand Service further up the hill at Chunuk Bair. All in all, I think the lot of us cried on and off for six whole hours.
I've been to many Anzac Day Dawn Services here in Australia, so going to Anzac Cove was something I had to do. The atmosphere and emotion created by the ghosts of our brave men who fell on that day, as well as the fantastic itinerary and never-ending facts offered up by our guides on that trip, will never be forgotten by me.
I say this: you must go!
Looking for information about travelling to Gallipoli? Contact [email]text=Trish Venz[/email], an International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre based in Beaudesert, Queensland who can be reached at 1300 338 769 or by [email]text=email[/email].