Blog: Battlefield Tours
Today is an interesting day for the kids. we spend sometime exploring further but the spend the afternoon rehearsing for ANZAC Day. The department of Veterans Affairs is generous enough to provide a role for the student for the activities before the dawn service and then at the Lone Pine service later in the day. It is an amazing opportunity for them. We started the day with a cruise that gives the perspective of what the Australians would seen when they landed at the beaches. We drifted of ANZAC cove and the formidable obstacle of the terrain is never more apparent.
Today we visited the ancient city of Troy for a taste of ancient history and a change of pace. We never truly detach from the Gallipoli campaign and even on our way to and from Troy we were able to talk about the naval campaign. There is no better way to understand the difficulties and the enormity of the task that lay ahead of the French and British navies than to stand at the Dardanos Battery and look down at the straits and the narrows. The afternoon was a chance for us to look at the role of the French and British at the landings and to visit the French cemetery at Cape Helles.
Today was an opportunity for us to walk the frontline. We had made an attempt to follow the ridge up from Shrapnel Valley cemetery but the wet in Turkey this year has been unusual and we were sunk at our first creek crossing or maybe more accurately bogged. This is one of the most intense days for the students with lots of information about the campaign and plenty of walking. For those of you who have been here before or have time to look at a map, we walked from Lone Pine to Baby 700 and then from Chunuk Bair down Rhododendron Ridge to Embarkation Pier.
Please excuse the lateness of this blog, wifi has not been the easiest of things to negotiate.
Today, the 20th of April, was one of the most significant days of the tour. We bundled the students on the bus early in the morning so that we could drive down to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The significance is not for how much we can pack into the day or the activities we do but it is the first site and experience of the peninsula and the first time we get to hear the stories that have built the ANZAC legend.
Today was spent like most days on this trip, flat out from dawn until dusk. The group is learning more about each other and really bonding well. I think over the years, everyday in Turkey I learn something new. Sometimes that is about the country, sometimes the people and sometimes about myself. I have watched these young adults and the way they have embraced the culture here, the way of life and tried valiantly to squeeze every drop out of the experience. It is inspiring and makes me wish I had their enthusiasm and maturity when I was their age.
A quick note from me before we hear from Jack. Our first day in Istanbul is an opportunity to expose the students to Turkish culture and its place in the world. It is a crucial part of the trip and gives the students Ann understanding who the people are and how that Gallipoli experience has shaped this nation as much as Australia. It is a time where we can encourage the students to think about the position of those men and that nation 100 years ago who were at that time the enemy.
The first and most difficult part of our journey is now finished. I say difficult but probably only difficult for me. All of our students have flown in from each state and territory to meet in Sydney and then head off to Istanbul via Singapore. This does require some degree of juggling, time management and in some years Olympic style 100m dashing. This year was a breeze thanks to some great timing from airlines, and excellent support from our two teachers, David and Lorraine.
It is that time of year again when the most important day of commemoration for Australians looms closer. ANZAC Day, our time to stop and reflect on the service and sacrifice of Australians, is likely to have direct and indirect meaning for most Australians. It is a time that reminds us of how a nation viewed itself and what our nation wanted to be but it’s also a time for us to look at our past and try and understand its influence and context today.
ANZAC Day is a significant point in the trip for everyone. Experiencing the Dawn service for the first time at the Cove is different for everyone and in the context of the whole trip and for us, the intensity of the Gallipoli experience has shaped the day for us all. In many ways we have the best of peninsula, we have had time to walk the ridges and visit the cemeteries virtually alone. It has been a time for reflection and a time for us all to really appreciate the enormity of the task that faced thos e men almost 100 years ago.
Today we took the time for another Simpson Prize First and another first for me. We made our way to Suvla Bay and walked the ridge on the northern side of the salt lake. It was a rugged climb upwards, our legs and arms being ripped at and grazed from the sharp foliage and thorns. Pulling our selves upwards over the rocks and pushing endlessly through the scrub we finally reached the ridge. It was every bit worth the cuts and grazes. The view was amazing in every direction.