• 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 service and sacrifice of those who have served Australia during periods of war and peace.

    The Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in a military routine which is still followed by the Australian Army today. During battle, the half-light of dawn was one of the most favoured times for 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 attacks, 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, recalling the wartime front line practice of the dawn "stand-to", became the basis of a form of commemoration in several places after the war. There are claims that a dawn requiem mass was held at Albany in 1918, and a wreath laying and commemoration took place at dawn in Toowoomba the following year. In 1927 a group of returned men, returning from an Anzac function held the night before, came upon an elderly woman laying flowers at the as yet unfinished Sydney Cenotaph. Joining her in this private remembrance, the men later resolved to institute a dawn service the following year. Thus, in 1928, 150 people gathered at the Cenotaph for a wreath laying 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 also seen an increased association with the dawn landings on 25 April 1915.


    4.30 am Three 15 minute excerpts will be read from letters and diaries of Australian who experienced war firsthand in all its facets
    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 closes

    Site Safety

    The Dawn Service is a standing ceremony conducted in the dark prior to sunrise and accordingly the weather is likely to be cold.

    We ask all visitors to be aware of their surroundings as the site is uneven ground 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 high volume of crowd in attendance.

    General information

    • 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


    There is no allocated seating for the Dawn Service. Visitors are welcome to occupy the seating in place for the National Ceremony, as well as to 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 site is uneven ground and may be icy or slippery in the early hours of the morning, therefore caution is advised when entering the site or seating.

    Locations of large viewing screens

    There will be large viewing screens located around the Memorial grounds to assist members of the public to safely view the ceremony.

    Map of large screens

    Facilities and amenities

    • Information points are located around the site.
    • First Aid Services and Ambulance
      • 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
      • Temporary toilets.
    • Catering outlets will operate around the grounds.
    • Community groups will be distributing coffee and tea.

    Map of facilities and amenities

    Photographs taken at the Dawn Service

    See more on our Flickr page.