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ANZAC Day History, Ideas & Menu

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by Shirley Peppler (subscribe)
I enjoy writing to give other people pleasure. I love traveling, eating out, finding fabulous cultural events at home and afar. I hope you'll like and try some of my discoveries, and favourite places and experiences.
Published April 21st 2018
What will you be doing this ANZAC Day?

Anzac Day, Brisbane, Anzac biscuits, menu, diggers, nurses, Aboriginal diggers
ANZAC memorial Brisbane, By Kate Nielsen Photos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

ANZAC Day is just around the corner. Every year on 25 April, we pause to remember Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers who served during World War 1 (WW1) at Gallipoli.

First Brisbane Anzac Day, 1916

ANZAC Day parade 2013

This year, perhaps you'll be up with the roosters to attend one of the many Dawn Services held in almost every town throughout the nation. You might also be considering going to one of the ANZAC Day Marches held in every state capital city. Afterwards, you may go to the local gatherings in Returned & Services League (RSL) Clubs and pubs where gatherings are traditionally held across the country and we have a drink, a yarn with a 'digger' and play two-up legally. You might go to a special event such as an art exhibition, a play or a public talk about the history of ANZAC Day, or you might enjoy the public holiday and catch up with family and friends, perhaps over a picnic or BBQ.

Alternatively, you might quietly reflect on what the day means to you and have a lazy day at home with your old family photo albums or family war medals heirlooms, reading poetry or listening to songs related to ANZAC Day, watch a film such as "Gallipoli" or the mini-series "ANZAC girls" or read a book like "An ANZAC Tale", or a website article about Aboriginal diggers such as this one on the ABC website, by Stan Grant.

Anzac Day, Brisbane, Anzac biscuits, menu, diggers, nurses, Aboriginal diggers
Stan Grant's family photo

Anzac Day, Brisbane, Anzac biscuits, menu, diggers, nurses, Aboriginal diggers
'Photographs of the Third Australian General Hospital at Lemnos, Egypt and Brighton (Eng.) taken by A. W. Savage 191517' Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales /

Whatever you choose to do on ANZAC Day, here are some ideas of how you can get into the spirit of the day with an ANZAC menu.

Menu ideas

The Gunfire Breakfast. This is the name given to breakfast that was eaten by WW1 soldiers before a morning battle. It may have included hard "dog" biscuits, jam, tinned Bully Beef and coffee with rum or condensed milk and was eaten cold, in the dark so the enemy didn't see any tell-tale signs of smoke or fire. Almost all RSL Clubs serve Gunfire breakfasts free to all guests following their Dawn Service. Today, it is a more traditional hot meal with lashings of bacon, sausages, eggs, beans, tomatoes, damper and tea. Rum is still often added to coffee or cold milk. Of course, you can tailor your breakfast to be inclusive of gluten and lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

ANZAC toast. Toasted Turkish bread certainly isn't traditional ANZAC Day tucker, but it is a combination of our iconic Vegemite with our foes at the battle Gallipoli, the Turks. Butter your toast and add some Mainland tea to include our New Zealand mates. You can have it with "Billy" tea or might like to go for strong black Turkish coffee.

ANZAC Biscuits. These are the quintessential ANZAC Day treat. You can have them anytime during the day with a cup of tea or just as they are. If you put aside an hour you could make your own and impress your Nana, family and friends by making your own. Here's a simple, delicious recipe for you and the kids. Of course, you can also buy some from the supermarket if you are super busy and prefer to.

If you want to share the Anzac biscuit story, here it is. During WW1, while the soldiers were overseas at war, women were back home in Australia, keeping the home and the country running. One thing we women are good at is nurturing, so they decided to put aside mending the socks and making blankets and create something in the kitchen for their men.

There were food shortages during the war so many things were rationed. As it took a long time from when foods left Australia until they arrived at their overseas destination, ingredients like eggs and butter weren't an option. Creative thinking resulted in the ANZAC Biscuit. These biscuits, baked with special ingredients of generous amounts of love and hope, were packed in tins and sent off to the troops in food parcels.

1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
cup desiccated coconut
tsp bicarb soda
125g butter
2 tbs golden syrup
1 tbs boiling water

Anzac Day, Brisbane, Anzac biscuits, menu, diggers, nurses, Aboriginal diggers

1. Add oats, sugar, coconut and flour into a mixing bowl.
2. Gently melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan.
3. Combine bicarb with boiling water and add to the butter mix.
4. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
5. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place approx. 5cm apart on a baking paper lined tray (these spread quite a bit).
6. Press down lightly on each with a fork and bake in a preheated oven (175 degrees Celsius) for 15-20 minutes. The biscuits will feel soft, but if the tops are brown, they're cooked.

1. Biscuits will harden when cool. I like them soft, so I put them in their container while still hot.
2. If you want crunchy biscuits, add a little more golden syrup.

This recipe will make around 30-40. Keep them in sealed container and they will last for ages.

Anzac Day, Brisbane, Anzac biscuits, menu, diggers, nurses, Aboriginal diggers
ANZAC biscuits

Whether the well-known words from the Ode or the anti-war song Mothers, Daughters, Wives may speak to us, Anzac Day is a day to remember and reflect on the pain and suffering of war and the ANZAC story while we cherish the free life we enjoy today in Australia with friends or loved ones.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

(The Ode, from For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon, 1914)

You can view the Mothers, Daughters, Wives video clip here.
(Mothers, Daughters, Wives written by Judy Small, performed by Nick Kier)
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Why? A public holiday when all Australians reflect on and remember the ANZAC soldiers and nurses who served during World War 1 at Gallipoli and those left at home.
When: 25th April 2018
Where: Everywhere
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