Boats carrying troops to shore on the morning of the Anzac Cove landing on April 25, 1915. General William Bridges is in foreground.
Boats carrying troops to shore on the morning of the Anzac Cove landing on April 25, 1915. General William Bridges is in foreground. Courtesy of Australian War Memor

How Australia's first dawn service in Rocky came to be

From the Mayor's Desk,

by Margaret Strelow

THE model for civic meetings on Anzac Day was established for Queensland by a committee which was formed in January 1916 - less than a year after the Gallipoli landings.

That committee called for evening services in every community large or small across the state and for a one-minute service to be observed at 9pm.

The Rockhampton community, however, decided to gather at dawn on Anzac Day 1916 and in several churches throughout the day as well as to conduct a service in the evening as prescribed by the committee.

Rockhampton held nation's first dawn service in 1916

And so, the first dawn service to be held anywhere in Australia was held here in Rockhampton.

The first ever Anzac Day dawn service was held in Rockhampton in 1916.
The first ever Anzac Day dawn service was held in Rockhampton in 1916. ?

It is sobering to realise that as that first gathering occurred, 600 people gathering at the old Earls Court, some locals had already been to war and returned. Others had sons who were still on the Western front. Still others were preparing to embark.

How raw must the emotions have been and how heavy the hearts of those who gathered.

At that first service the Rev Walker spoke of two outstanding features in his mind's eye.

First was to see on that early morning a year ago the brave young Crusaders scaling the hills and taking them - accomplishing a task which was looked on as impossible and by their effort achieving great success.

HEAVY LOSSES: Hundreds of soldiers move among the dead and wounded on the beach at Anzac Cove, April 25, 1915.
HEAVY LOSSES: Hundreds of soldiers move among the dead and wounded on the beach at Anzac Cove, April 25, 1915. Phillip F E Schuler: Australian

Another was the sad picture he had seen of an Australian with his rifle and bayonet standing, looking at a mound on which there was a rude cross in which lay the mortal remains of one of his comrades.

He spoke of local churches keeping lists of the names of those who had gone to war.

Two churches in particular were mentioned, one had a list of 66, the other had 67 names.

And yet it seemed at that point we knew of only four of our young men who had fallen.

I'll do my best to put the rest in his words.

"We must recognise what it means that these men went voluntarily.

"It means that the young men from Queensland and the other states and of New Zealand - with inspiring motives - have come forward, if necessary prepared to make the supreme sacrifice.

"They have done great things and are prepared to do greater if necessary.

"We are proud of our boys at the front.

"Some of those who have gone will never return and we mourn their loss.

"And there are others too.

"There are the wounded who are back.

"And there are those who are still coming back.

"We owe a duty to those men because they have suffered not only for themselves but for those of us who have remained behind.”

A hundred years on we still have a duty to those men.

A duty to remember them - a duty to remember those who have followed.

A supplied image obtained Tuesday, Dec.15, 2015 of a view of Watson's Pier at Anzac Cove shortly before the final evacuation. Anzac Beach, was utterly deserted, but fortunately Turkish airmen, flew too high to notice this. (AAP Image/ Australian War Memorial)
A supplied image obtained Tuesday, Dec.15, 2015 of a view of Watson's Pier at Anzac Cove shortly before the final evacuation. Anzac Beach, was utterly deserted, but fortunately Turkish airmen, flew too high to notice this. (AAP Image/ Australian War Memorial) AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL

And a duty to do whatever we can to see an end to war.

Although the reading of the resolutions, as instituted by that very first committee, has fallen by the wayside in many communities, it has continued to be a part of our community tradition.

They will be read once again at the Civic Service at 11am out the front of City Hall on Anzac Day.

Lest we Forget.



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