CQ remembers: Thousands turn out for ANZAC day around region
BEFORE dawn, big crowds solemnly attended memorial services around Central Queensland to commemorate Anzac Day.
Originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, Anzac Day is now a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.
Aircraftwoman Alexandra Irving of the 33rd squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, addressed the thousands attending Rockhampton's 104th Anzac Day dawn service at the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens.
She said it was a unique opportunity to speak at one's home town where there are so many special reminders of those who have served (and not just helicopters that fly overhead when exercises are on at Shoalwater Bay).
Ms Irving spoke of the great pride in knowing, wherever Australians and New Zealanders are found in this moment, it is likely they too are likely commemorating Anzac Day, whether at dawn or another form or remembrance.
"In this moment, no matter where in the world we are, we are united,” Ms Irving said.
"The first landing at Gallipoli's Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, is one of most defining events in Australia's history to date.
"Even though it was a defeat, it set the standards which inspired an entire nation for all these years and into the future.”
Over eight months, over 50,000 troops committed to the Gallipoli battle, a "theatre of conflict” which saw 26,000 casualties and 8500 deaths.
Ms Irving tried to put those numbers into context.
"The population of Rockhampton is 80,000; imagine two-thirds that number on the peninsula,” she said.
"Now imagine half of them wounded or dead.”
She encouraged the crowd at Rockhampton's Botanic Gardens to also remember those who served at countless other places including World War II, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Korea, East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Ms Irving said Australia was a peace-loving nation but "staunch in our values and a valued ally” with an international reputation for sticking together in the face of adversity and fighting for values we all hold dear, including courage, integrity, resilience and mateship.
"There is one story of Australians as underdogs in battle which really stands out: the Battle of Long Tan,” she said.
"There were 108 mostly inexperienced allies fighting more than 2000 of the enemy; that's a ratio of 20 to one.
"With low ammunition, only 100 rounds, the Anzacs made one final assault, just in time.”
She said the battle ended with success and only 17 killed and 19 wounded (compared to the Vietnamese loss of 240 men, 350 wounded).
This reinforced the Anzac spirit, renowned for strength and resolve despite overwhelming odds and uncertain futures.
"Younger generations are lucky they have never seen war on such a scale, or fear conscription, or know what it's like to search through casualty lists in the newspaper with dread,” she said.
"As a young country we are free to choose our future.
"Wars are to be avoided but, when necessary, we must stand up for our values.
"Freedom only exists so long as we defend it.”
Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow said she attended the dawn service at Gracemere where an estimated crowd of 3000 attended.
"I understand they were very big numbers at the Botanic Gardens as well,” Cr Strelow said.
"There were services throughout the day right around the region.
Cr Strelow said the salute for the parade in Rockhampton was taken by Major Andrew Blackmore of the British Forces.
"He had been at Shoalwater Bay with C Company Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Around 120 of the Gurkhas marched in the parade and they then formed a guard of honour for the Civic Service,” she said.
"Returning the Civic Service to Riverside was very well received. Thankfully the weather was kind.
"Anzac Day has such strong traditions here in Rockhampton Region stretching right back to the first anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing.
"Today's turnout is proof that our determination to honour the memory of those who fought and those who fell is still very strong.”
Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson joined Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke - Member for Rockhampton and Councillor Drew Wickerson at Rockhampton's dawn service.
"It's important we pay tribute to all the Australian servicemen and women who have risked, and given, their lives to fight for the freedom we enjoy today,” Mr Robertson said.
"We must never forget their sacrifice.”
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said despite Yeppoon being a little damp, but she attended a wonderful ceremony.
"The theme was Commemorating Australian Service Nursing,” Ms Landry said.
"Yeppoon State High School did a great job with their band, choir and youth address.”
Ms Landry's praise for the Yeppoon service was echoed by Keppel MP Brittany Lauga.
"The Yeppoon RSL did a magnificent job for Yeppoon's ANZAC March and service this morning,” Mrs Lauga said.
"The RSL together with a multitude of ex-service organisations, the SES, Yeppoon Lions, pPolice, local schools including the Yeppoon State High School Choir and Concert Band, the Choral Society and Livingstone Shire Council all did a marvellous job.
"Thanks so much to Colonel John Phelan (retired) for your inspiring words. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.”
Mrs Lauga also attended the ANZAC service at Mout Chalmers.
"Many thanks to the Historical Society for organising the service, to the Keppel Coast Community Choir, buglar Graham Ivers and piper William for your amazing singing, music and contributions,” she said.
United Australia candidate for Capricornia Lindsay Sturgeon said there was a great turn out for the ANZAC Day parade in Mackay.
"The ANZAC spirit is alive and well. Thanks for the volunteers that made this event a great success,” Mr Sturgeon said.