Our first day in Gallipoli - Simpson Prize 2011
Back on the bus and we were away for the final part of the road trip. We arrived at the Kum hotel for a late lunch and some of us... ok... I ate my lunch fast in my haste to get the kids to get their first taste of ANZAC. Our first stop was Beach cemetery where we got some time to look around and the weather finally cleared and the sun beamed down. We let the students absorb their surrounds before we then all came together to talk about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the importance of the relationship with and the generosity of the Turkish people. We stood by Simpson’s plot and explored his role in the ANZAC Story, as the name sake to the Simpson prize it had special meaning for us all. Gene, the ACT winner, talked about the epitaph that inspired him to write his essay and told us all about what he had discovered through his research. The Epitaph simply reads “Deeds not words”. Three very powerful words and they clearly resonated with Gene.
We moved down to Ari Burnu Cemetery and walked along ANZAC Cove itself. We sat and talked about the campaign and explored just how difficult that landing must have been for the men. We all truly got a sense of where we were when we hit that beach as I am sure did the young ANZACS almost 100 years ago. We had time to look around and explore and I was amazed that as I strolled along the beach I was finding parts of smashed rum jugs that have been there in the water and buried in the sand since the evacuation. On one part of the beach I found a large piece of shrapnel, as big as my forearm on another a quarter of a rum jug just sitting on the beach almost defying time to break it down and take it out to sea.
Before heading back to the hotel for dinner and backgammon, the day finished with the setting sun lighting the sphinx, and nature posing a very complex question, how can such a beautiful place have seen so much tragedy?