We were on the island last weekend and Saturday happened to Anzac Day – a day where Australians honour all those who gave their lives in various wars. This year was special as it is 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, and the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. In the lead up to the 25th April there were many stories, documentaries and tales of the men who went to Turkey to fight for their country and of those who didn’t return.
Each year a Dawn Service is held in cities and towns around the country. On Magnetic Island, beautiful Alma Bay was the location for the service. We decided to walk to the park – some 2 km away – the trail hugs the coastline and is normally a beautiful walk. However, it was dark and so we powered along and were amazed at the crowd that had already assembled at the cenotaph by 5 a.m.
The honour guard stood motionless at the cenotaph and a parade of servicemen and women marched to the park from the nearby RSL. There was silence everywhere and at 5.30am a gunfire salute hailed from two landing craft anchored in the bay. The staccato sound of shots, followed by silence and then more shots brought to life what the men must have faced in the dark one hundred years ago.
The service began and the sun slowly rose over the bay. The atmosphere was solemn and very moving as dawn arrived and the birds sang a chorus. Rarely have I seen such a large crowd of all age groups totally rapt in the proceedings.
As it became light, the landing craft became more apparent and the bay was bathed in a golden light.
Finally, when the service ended and the dignitaries dispersed, we were left to ponder on the significance of the day. I wandered down to the water and captured a shot which said it all – a lone swimmer in the bay with the landing craft of war in the distance.