Hundreds gather in Sydney for Anzac Day dawn service

Samantha Lock |

A large crowd gathered at the Sydney Cenotaph for the dawn service before wreaths were laid.
A large crowd gathered at the Sydney Cenotaph for the dawn service before wreaths were laid.

Hundreds of people, including veterans, gathered under a full moon and clear skies for a solemn pre-dawn service in Sydney’s CBD, to remember the ultimate sacrifice.

The commemoration at the near 100-year-old Cenotaph in Martin Place was held in crisp weather to mark the 109th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli during World War I.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, Premier Chris Minns and Police Commissioner Karen Webb were among those to lay wreaths before the sun rose on Thursday.

Mr Minns continued the dawn service tradition with a reading from Australian writer and World War I veteran Elliott Napier’s moving poem “Salute”.

“You who have loved will remember the glow of their glad young years, as you stand today to salute them in silence, with pride and with tears,” he told the silent crowd.

“The best thing about the ceremony this morning is to see the number of people that come early in the morning.

“Times like today the community can come together and remember those who gave their lives for our country and it’s so nice to see it remain a solemn occasion.”

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley lays a wreath
NSW Governor Margaret Beazley lays a wreath with her husband during the dawn service. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

As the lights dimmed and a spotlight shone on the cenotaph, Air Vice Marshal Glen Braz said Anzac Day had come a long way since it was first commemorated in 1916.

“With conflicts since then, the meaning has evolved,” he said. 

“While World War I veterans are no longer with us, and there are few remaining from World War II and Korea among us, today standing in this crowd are veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans of numerous peacekeeping missions.

“Australians who found within themselves the selflessness and courage to serve our country, to serve you and protect our way of life … to these remarkable individuals, we say thank you.”

As the Last Post played, the crowd bowed their heads and some saluted before a minute of silence to honour those who died in war.

The diggers from the Great War were represented at the ceremony by a Memorial Horse.

Later on Thursday, more than 10,000 current serving Australian Defence Force members and veterans, including World War II veterans, will march from Martin Place to the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.

Hundreds if not thousands of people are expected to line the route to honour those marching.

The marchers will include veterans who saw service in World War II, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, The Gulf War, East Timor and other UN Peace Keeping Areas, and ongoing service in Afghanistan.

AAP