Sunday 26 April 2009 by Andrew Gray. 11 comments
Battlefield Tours, Gallipoli, Simpson Prize

View of Dawn Service from our seats View of Dawn Service from our seats

Well, by the look of all the comments we don’t have to tell you what we’ve been up to, as you’ve seen us in action on TV.  Before Lone Pine, though, we had of course been at the Dawn Service at North Beach.  We got up after midnight, dressed warmly (some with every layer they possibly could) and headed off to the site.  It was amazing to see the place full of people in sleeping bags and in the stands.  Thanks to Dept of Veterans Affairs we got some great seats, just behind the NSW Premier’s group of students.  It was at the front of the stands, close to the water so we had a great view of the commemorative site and sea with lights shooting out across it.

While it was cold waiting for dawn, Andrew assured us we were lucky that there was no cold wind like last year.  There was an interpretive program that ran on the big screens either side of the site that included interviews with people who had travelled to Gallipoli for the services and a presentation of soldiers names and details of a few Australian and New Zealand soldiers killed in the campaign - very moving.

There was a live musical performance of an original piece, part four of a composition that is being built up each year in the lead up to the 100th Anniversary in 2015.  During this performance the hills and cliffs above the site (The Sphinx, Plugges Plateau and Walkers Ridge) we bathed in coloured light, with the whole ridgeline back lit.  It added to the amazing atmosphere in the place.

After our days traveling around Turkey, it was funny being a place where you kept hearing the familiar Australian accent, Oz flags and kangaroos everywhere – we could have easily been back home, except for all the Turkish stall holders yelling “kebab, kebab, kebab” or “coffee, coffee, tea, nescafe”.

The service started with dawn light illuminating the ridge, a light mist and gulls dipping over the gentle sea.  Commemorative addresses from New Zealand and Australian speakers reminded us of what happened in this place 94 years ago, the importance of remembering soldiers from all side of the conflict, not glorifying war but honouring the service and sacrifice of these men.  The service seemed to race by, and before long it was over.  For many in the group it was our first Dawn Service, but definitely not the last.

In position with wreaths at the Lone Pine service In position with wreaths at the Lone Pine service

Varun, Megan and Johanna at the ready with wreaths Varun, Megan and Johanna at the ready with wreaths

We walked out of the site, along beach road and up Artillery Road, accompanied by Kiwis, Aussies and Turks, all a bit tired but in good spirits.  At Lone Pine we changed into our gear for wreath handling duties and Lauren did full change into her school uniform.  From the many comments to the previous post, you can easily see what our main experience was for that service.  Lauren excelled with a moving reading of The Last to Leave, complemented by the MC and warm applause from the audience.  The rest of us wreath wrangled with grace and poise.

After the service we had many people come up and complement our work, including the NSW Premier.  We then joined many other groups and individuals who laid their own floral tributes.  The message on our wreath came from an epitaph Lauren found on one soldier's grave “Some day, some time we will understand”.  Given the cold, windy weather we had over the last few days, it was great to have such a fine sunny day for the Lone Pine service – a complete contrast the day we went there for a quick rehearsal and almost got blown away.

So now we are back at the Kum Hotel enjoying a well earned rest and getting ready to head back to Istanbul tomorrow for our last few days here in Turkey.  Comments from past winners about the importance of keeping in touch is already in evidence with our group, sharing an amazing experience that will stay with us for a long time.  Thanks again for all the comments – it’s a great way to share the experience we are having together.

Lauren Tang reading The Last Leave Lauren Tang reading The Last Leave

Comments

Kayla Mizzi

Hello again! Sounds like you got some pretty good seats! I don't know if Andrews told you already (he probably has, but just in case...) all the Simpson winners are going to have a triumphant return to Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary in 2015 - so start saving up some money! :) Also, for those of you who have facebook, we've started a group called the Simpson Family where we post our photos from the trip and just keep in touch - we'd love for you guys to join too. Kayla

Janelle, Mark and Caitlin Prouatt

Guess you're all getting ready for the trip back to Istanbul. Meg, try to get some sleep tonight so you'll be ready for the bazaar tomorrow. Haggle politely and bring back some gifts for all of us. You've had such an awesome time with so many fantastic experiences. Andrew ,I'm going to miss reading the blog when there are no more posts. We enjoy your humourous touches! Uncle Brett and Aunty Janelle saw the Lone Pine Service replay early this morning. Love from Mum, Dad and Caitlin

Joyce Chen

Andrew, I will also miss your blogs-if only this could last forever. I am torn between wanting my daughter safe at home with us and wanting this fantastic experience for her and the others to last just that little bit longer. As a migrant to Australia, Anzac Day has only ever been little more than another public holiday for me....but the Simpson Prize has changed all that and I am already planning to "attempt" (no promises!!) to be present at the Cenotaph Dawn Service next year in Sydney. (4.30am!) My parents were only 5-6 year olds during the WW2 in Malaya and as such, had not been touched much by war although my mum said that they had to leave their family home in the town and lived in the rubber estates for awhile as there were older sisters to protect. They boiled the skins of the tapioca together with the ration of rice to make the food go further for the 10 children in the family. However, now I can feel the horror of war and truly commemorate this day in the spirit that it deserves. So thank you Simpson Prize and everyone involved. Joyce Chen (Lauren's mum) PS: I heard bookings already being taken by travel agents for 2015-so book early all you Simpsonites, past, present and future!!

Dale and Gary Moriarty

We wholeheartedly agree. Love the posts and your sense of humour Andrew! Many thanks to you, Sharon and Peter for planning such a wonderful experience for them all and for allowing us to keep up with what is happening. But we are all looking forward to having Erin at home....except perhaps Ian! Have fun tomorrow. I think even you Erin will enjoy shopping at the bazaar. At least we hope you do - we want some presents! Love from Mum and Dad and Hi from Ian

Joyce Chen

This is to the Dyers and the Moriarty's. I may be able to burn a copy for you of the service once my husband works out how to transfer it onto the computer. (hopefully in the next 1-2 wks) I am sure Lauren has your emails and so will let you know. Joyce

Dale and Gary Moriarty

That would be lovely, Joyce. We would really appreciate it! I know Erin and Lauren have each others contact details - they were often messaging each other on the computer before they left. Kind regards Dale

Papa Ray

Thanks for your blog and your work. Thank all the Diggers you see for their service through the decades. And tell them that a ol' grunt from Texas sends his best and his admiration for your nation's warriors. Papa Ray West Texas

Janelle, Mark and Caitlin Prouatt

Well, all good things must come to an end and tomorrow you begin your journey home. We wish you all a safe flight to Sydney and then onto your various towns. Meg, please give us a call when you arrive in Sydney. Hope your shopping was interesting. Thank you to Andrew, Sharon, Peter, Ozgur, your bus driver and anyone else involved in making your prize winning trip so absolutely fantastic. Like everyone we are looking forward to Meg's return. What stories she'll have to tell, especially about the Aegean. Joyce, if possible could we also get a copy of the Lone Pine Service? Love Mum, Dad and Cait

Oliver Kersnovski

hello, it sounds like you guys are having a great time over there. i know if the trip is anything like last years you will come back to australia changed forever. i must say though that from the tv pics it didnt look as cold and windy as last year - lucky you! congrats to lauren - you did a brilliant job of the reading. well done. you are now part of a very exclusive group of people. to all the others you guys did a great job too. it was great to reminice about last year and to see you all over there this year. welcome to the "simpson family" as kayla calls it. enjoy the rest of your time in turkey. you would have figured out its an amazing country by now. have fun guys and keep in touch with each other - you might live a long way apart but not many people get to experience the things you have and so sometimes it good just to talk to someone on common ground. keep at it and have a safe trip back to australia Oliver Kersnovski - simpson prize 08

didem celik

hello friends,I am from turkey.I am studying at university and doing a research on the anzacs. I have been looking forward to talking to an anzac granddaughter or son,but wasn't able to get any answer to my mails and messages,unfortunately. :( If anyone of you could write me about your days in turkey,especially in gallipoli,I will appreciate! from now on, it does not matter to talk to an anzac granddaughter or son;only an australian girl or boy will also help me so much in this research..because my lecturer values your thoughts so much,so do I. I will be waiting for any answer..thnx

Megan

Didem celik, sorry that it's taken us this long to get back to you, is there any way that we can reach you to give you our thoughts, because we all kept journals from the trip and would be happy to forward them on to you :) thanks, megan (with input from lauren and elli)