I like to participate in life rather than be a spectator. Music, dancing, theatre, travelling, food, cycling and walking are some of my passions. Writing is an enjoyable pastime that allows me to share my experiences.
The city of Newcastle is home to many ANZAC Day services. Every year, tens of thousands of people wake early and brave the cool morning air to attend the dawn service adjacent to Nobbys Beach. Arriving by foot, light rail and shuttle buses the crowds swell as they quietly approach Camp Shortland, searchlight beams from Fort Scratchley eerily cut through the darkness to point the way.
Young and old find a vantage position near the screens, on the beach or on the hill beneath Fort Scratchley. After the 5am lighting and blessing of the ANZAC flame, the war veteran participants marched off at 5:10am from the Horseshoe Beach assembly area accompanied by bagpipes, a choir, bugler and band. The hour long service was emotional with many heartfelt words of personal reflection.
There is a poetic poignance being beachside reflecting on the solemn words of remembrance the sun rises. To reflect the shared experiences of the ANZACS parts of the service such as the Ode Of Remembrance are spoken in Maori as well as English and the national anthems of both New Zealand and Australia are sung.
The Field Of Remembrance at Newcastle Cathedral (image JW)
The early morning peace is then shattered by four blasts from the gun at Fort Scratchley. Once for all who have served and fallen in defence of our country and once for each of the Australian armed forces.
Other activities on ANZAC Day were a 9:15 march along King Street to a 10am memorial service at Civic Park. A remembrance garden in the grounds of the cathedral was open to all and Fort Scratchley was open from midday to 4pm.