This year Saturday 25 April 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli. On this day the Australian War Memorial will be hosting two ceremonies of national significance to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of those who have served Australia during periods of war and peace.
It is often suggested that the Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in a military routine still followed by the Australian Army. The half-light of dawn was one of the times most favoured for launching an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the “stand-to”. As dusk is equally favourable for battle, the stand-to was repeated at sunset.
After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn vigil became the basis for commemoration in several places after the war. It is difficult to say when the first dawn services were held, as many were instigated by veterans, clergymen, and civilians from all over the country. A dawn requiem mass was held at Albany as early as 1918, and a wreathlaying and commemoration took place at dawn in Toowoomba the following year. In 1927 a group of returned men returning from an Anzac Day function held the night before came upon an elderly woman laying flowers at the as yet unfinished Sydney Cenotaph at dawn. Joining her in this private remembrance, the men later resolved to institute a dawn service the following year. Thus, 150 people gathered at the Cenotaph in 1928 for a wreathlaying and two minutes’ silence. This is generally regarded as the beginning of organised dawn services. Over the years the ceremonies have developed into their modern form and have also seen an increased association with the dawn landings of 25 April 1915.
4.30 am Three 15-minute excerpts will be read from letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war firsthand 5.15 am All will be quiet before the Dawn Service commences in darkness 5.30 am Dawn Service commences 6.00 am (approx.) Dawn Service concludes 6.15 am Commemorative Area opens 8.00 am Commemorative Area and Hall of Memory close
Orders of service
Pre-Dawn Service readings
- Captain Tim Brown, Royal Australian Navy, 4.30 am
- Flight Sergeant Hayden Inwood, Royal Australian Airforce, 4.45 am
- Corporal Dan Keighran VC, Australian Army, 5.00 am
Dawn Service address
- Dawn Service Address, 2015: delivered by Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, Chief of Army
The Dawn Service is a standing ceremony conducted in the dark prior to sunrise; accordingly, the weather is likely to be cold.
We ask all visitors to be aware of their surroundings as the grounds can be uneven and may be icy or slippery in the early hours of the morning. We therefore advise caution when entering the Memorial grounds or seating and when moving around the site, particularly with the size of the crowd in attendance.
- A significant number of visitors are expected.
- You should allow plenty of time to travel safely to the Memorial. Use of the free shuttle service or public transport is recommended.
- Those planning on walking to the Memorial via Anzac Parade should keep to the footpaths and remain off the road as the shuttle buses will be in operation.
- This is an informal ceremony, with visitors standing on the Parade Ground and surrounds.
- On-site lighting is provided until 5.25 am.
- It is suggested that attendees wear warm clothing and bring a torch.
Anzac Day breakfast
For enquiries about the Anzac Day breakfast following the Dawn Service please contact the Memorial’s caterers.
Please note the Anzac Day breakfast is now fully booked.
- Create Catering
- 02 6262 7380
- 0424 988 104
There is no allocated seating for the Dawn Service. Visitors are welcome to occupy the seating put in place for the National Ceremony, or they may stand on the Parade Ground. Seating is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors will be required to vacate this seating at the conclusion of the Dawn Service. Please be aware that the grounds can be uneven and may be icy or slippery in the early hours of the morning. Caution is advised when entering the site or seating.
Locations of viewing screens
There will be large viewing screens located around the Memorial grounds to assist members of the public to safely view the ceremony.
Facilities and amenities
- Information points are located around the site.
- First-Aid services and ambulance services are located around the site.
- Please note: the Memorial is unable to loan wheelchairs for public use.
- Poppies, candles, and programs are available for a donation.
- Public toilets:
- Poppy’s Café has public facilities available.
- Temporary toilets are located around the site.
- Catering outlets will operate around the grounds.
- Community groups will be distributing coffee and tea.
- Poppy’s Café will be open for breakfast from 6.00 am and will be operating pop-up food and beverage stands around the Memorial grounds. Due to the large number of visitors expected on that day, Poppy’s will not be accepting bookings.
Photographs taken at the Dawn Service