Your dawn to dusk guide on how to spend Anzac Day in the nation’s capital.
2018 marks the 103rd anniversary of the landing of the Anzac troops in Gallipoli, and while many will be travelling to Turkey to pay their respects to the soldiers who fought for Australia in the war for the occasion, many of us will be celebrating locally.
If you're thinking of making it an event, there's no better place to head to than Canberra. Being just 2.5 hours from Sydney and just under 7 hours from Melbourne, it's just close enough to take a road trip to the nation's capital - even if it's just for the day.
Got leave? With Anzac Day falling on a Wednesday this year, you can take two days off and take your time travelling there and back stopping by vineyards, truffle farms and small townships along the way.
Being the nation’s capital and the home of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra can't be beat for anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the full Anzac Day experience.
Here's a rundown of all the events you can (and should) attend on Tuesday 25 April:
4:30am: Anzac Day Canberra Dawn Service
A fundamental part of any Anzac Day celebration is the dawn service. In Turkey, this is held in Anzac Cove, Gallipoli. In Australia, this is held throughout the country near where Anzac memorials are placed.
In Canberra, the dawn service is at the Australian War Memorial. While the service commences at 5:30am, celebrations and events are held prior. From 23 April until dusk on 25 April images of Australian service people will be projected onto the memorial building. At 4:30am excerpts from letters and diaries of Australians who experienced the war will be read and at 5:15am a 15-minute silence will be imposed before the service begins.
It’s a public service, and as there’s no allocated seating, it is advised that you arrive early and use the free ACTION shuttle service or public transport to attend as there will be road closures on the day. If you are using the ACTION shuttle service, you are required to register beforehand.
6:30am: The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commemorative Ceremony
Following the Dawn Service is a commemorative ceremony to honour the Indigenous Australians who have served in the Australian forces since 1901. It is held at the Aboriginal memorial plaque beside Mount Ainslie at 6:30am.
10:30am: National Ceremony & Anzac Day March
In addition to the Dawn Service, the Australian War Memorial also hosts a National Ceremony at 10:30am. This includes a traditional order of service, the Commemorative Address, laying of wreaths, hymn reading, the sounding of the Last Post and a one-minute silence.
The National Ceremony will be followed by the traditional veterans' RSL march.
Unlike the Dawn Service, tickets are required for the National Ceremony. These are free though must be booked.
If you've missed out on reserved seating, you're welcome to bring your picnic chairs to sit in to view the ceremony from general admission areas or via the large screens on the Memorial grounds.
12pm onward: Two-Up at the local
With the ceremonies complete for the day, the next stage of your day should be to hit up your local pub to play two-up. Briefly, this is an Aussie gambling game that was played by soldiers during WWI and involves a “spinner” tossing two coins (traditionally pennies) into the air and punters betting on how the coins would fall. It’s since become a tradition to play on Anzac Day.
These pubs and clubs are known to hold two-up games on Anzac Day in Canberra:
- The Canberra Irish Club: 6 Parkinson Street, Weston
- The Duxton: Corner Mcpherson and Sargood streets, O’Connor
- The Dickson Tradies & Quality Hotel: 2 Badham Street, Dickson. Breakfast at 6am. First toss at 11am hosted by the legendary Bruce Thornton/
- Ainslie Football Club: 52 Wakefield Avenue, Ainslie
- Labor Club Belconnen: Chandler Street, Belconnen
- Siren Bar & Restaurant: 30 Anthony Rolfe Avenue, Gungahlin. Gunfire breakfast available from 6am, two up from noon).
- Gungahlin Lakes Golf Clubs: Gundaroo and Gungahlin Drives, Nicholls
- Canberra Services Club: Manuka Oval, Manuka Circuit, Griffith
- Vikings Erindale: 6 Ricardo Street, Waniassa
- Vikings Chisholm: Benham Street, Chisholm
- The Hellenic Club: Matilda Street, Woden
4:55pm: Last Post Ceremony
Following a long day of celebrations at the Australian War Memorial is the daily Last Post ceremony. Held at 4:45pm in the Commemorative Area, the Last Post Ceremony marks the closing of the War Memorial to the public for the day.
It is another free event that is open to the public and finishes at 5:15pm.
5:15pm: Anzac Day dinner
The events don't stop when dusk hits. Restaurants and clubs around Canberra usually host special Anzac Day dinners in the evening.
When in doubt, head to your local RSL who will no doubt be having a rollicking long celebration for Anzac Day.
Where to stay in Canberra over on Anzac Day
Stay close to the action at these hotels and homestays, located near the Australian War Memorial.
Dickson, Canberra Homestay
Mantra on Northbourne
Canberra City YHA - Hostel
Waldorf Canberra Apartment Hotel, Canberra
Crowne Plaza Canberra
Day tours of Canberra from Sydney
Coming in from Sydney? Make it easy for yourself. These day tours to Canberra are available on the April 25. While you won't make it for the dawn service, you will get a personalised guide throughout the city on this fundamental day in Australian history.
Images: Australian War Memorial
Canberra private day tour
Private full-day tour from Sydney