The Best Things to Do This Anzac Day Long Weekend

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Anzac Day, the anniversary of the April 25 landings at Gallipoli, Turkey, is one of Australia’s most important national holidays. Mark the occasion with a variety of long weekend events in a city near you.

Canberra

The Dawn Service

In the lead-up to Anzac Day, commemorations begin at dusk on April 23 when images of servicemen and servicewomen from the Australian War Memorial’s photographic collection will be projected onto the memorial building in Canberra. On April 25, at 4.30am, excerpts will be read from the letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war firsthand. At 5.15am, silence will be observed before the Dawn Service commences in darkness at 5.30am. Huge crowds are expected so allow plenty of time to travel to the memorial.

The Australian War Memorial

Around town

It’s a day of ceremony in Canberra. At 10.30am, Australia’s capital will host the Anzac Day National Ceremony, which includes the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand, the Commemorative Address, the laying of wreaths, the reading of hymns, the sounding of the Last Post and the observance of one minute’s silence. Ticketing is limited but you can take your own chair or rug and watch one of the large screens throughout the Australian War Memorial grounds. The Last Post Ceremony starts at 4.45pm in the Commemorative Area. All welcome.

Melbourne

The Dawn Service

It’s recommended to arrive at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne by 4.30am for the 6am Dawn Service, which concludes at 6.30am, when attendees can enter the Sanctuary to lay poppies. At 9am, the Anzac Day March will head down St Kilda Road.

Shrine of Remembrance

Around town

The Anzac Day blockbusting AFL match between Collingwood and Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) rates second only to the Grand Final – and the Anzac spirit of courage, sacrifice, endurance and mateship is alive and well on the paddock. Before the bounce at 3.20pm, a special service held in recognition of all Australian war veterans includes the national anthem and the sounding of the Last Post. In the 21 games so far, it’s 12-8 to Collingwood with one draw. If you can’t get a pew at the MCG, there’s no shortage of venues where you can catch the live action. Two to recommend are the Royal Derby Hotel in Fitzroy, where the big-screen action spills out into the beer garden; and the Grosvenor Hotel in St Kilda, where you can enjoy free pots until the first point is scored (hurry, now).

Sydney

The Dawn Service

It takes place at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney, from 4.30am. The Anzac Day March, which leaves from Martin Place at 9am, has a new route this year due to CBD roadworks. 

RSL New South Wales Branch

Around town

Anzac Day is the one day of the year on which you can legally play two-up. Sydneysiders throw themselves into the fray and if you, too, want to experience the true-blue spirit, you can find games all around town. The historic Rocks area is where most people end up, with a host of venues offering barbecues with coin-tossing. Try The Argyle, The Glenmore and the Fortune of War hotels but get in early. Further afield at Coogee Bay Hotel and Manly Wharf Hotel – which will host games of two-up – NRL fans can also catch big-screen coverage of the annual Anzac Day Cup between the St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters.

Brisbane

The Dawn Service

The service starts at 4.28am sharp at the Brisbane Shrine of Remembrance, Anzac Square. If you want a good vantage point you’ll need to get there even earlier. You can also watch the service on big screens located in and around Anzac Square, Post Office Square, King George Square and Queen Street Mall. The parade begins at 9.30am, with the best places for spectators along Adelaide Street.

Anzac Day Commemoration Committee

Around town

Brisbane is getting musical this long weekend. On April 24, there’s a free concert in Newstead Park featuring Brisbane Brass, Brisbane Municipal Concert Band and Brisbane City Big Band. Bring a blanket and buy lunch at one of the many food trucks. On Anzac Day, enjoy more music from the WWI era at the National Australia Remembers Freedom Wall (11am to 2pm); at New Farm Park, the South Brisbane Federal Band will play tunes reminiscent of wartime eras (2pm to 3pm).

Brisbane City Council

Adelaide

The Dawn Service

It’s a 6am start at the SA National War Memorial in Adelaide and big screens are in place to ensure everyone has a view of the proceedings. The Anzac Day March will commence at 9.30am from North Terrace and spectators are expected to line North Terrace and King William Road. 

RSL South Australia Branch

Around town

The Torrens Training Ground, home of RSL SA, will be hosting a range of family activities from 7am to 2pm, including food and drinks, a bouncy castle, face painting, two-up and live music. In the city the annual Anzac Day Street Party around the Union Hotel is celebrating its 40th year (that’s an estimate – no-one’s quite sure) in Waymouth Street from 10am until late. Head along for boutique beer and wine tents, food stalls, live bands and the Legacy Foundation fundraising barbecue. 

Perth

The Dawn Service

​The Dawn Service in Perth will be held at the State War Memorial on Fraser Avenue in Kings Park & Botanic Garden from 5.50am and big screens are located all around the commemorative site; arriving at 4am is recommended. The Anzac Day Parade through Perth starts at 9am. The route has changed this year and will march east along St Georges Terrace, onto Victoria Avenue and into Langley Park.

RSL Western Australia Branch

Around town

The term “gunfire breakfast” refers to the early cup of tea served to troops in the morning before resuming battle. Today, as a commemoration, it’s a more nourishing event – generally a full cooked Aussie breakfast with a dash of rum added to the accompanying coffee or tea. See what it’s all about at Stirling Gardens from 7am to 9am in return for a gold coin donation to the RSL.

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