I have always treated ANZAC Day as an extremely personal time to reflect, causing my emotions over the day to sway from anger at the loss, humbility at the sacrifice and pride to be an Australian. To do this, I found the large ANZAC ceremonies in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra's Australia War Memorial too busy to spend this time of personal reflection. I certainly admired the services for their respectful message, but I personally felt something missing.
So I spent many ANZAC Days on my own or with a loved one, removed from distractions and reflecting on an individual, a battle and a campaign that helped define Australia and many of the aspects about my quality of life that I take for granted. This changed in the last couple of years when, in an attempt to find a quiet place, I inadvertently attended the dawn service at Gundaroo. The small, relaxed style of the service allowed me to make a personal connection, that lump in your throat and swelling in your eyes that you can not fight. Last year, I had the same personal connection when attending the Dawn Service on the main street of Queanbeyan with my daughters.
Yes, they are rustic and not polished with high-profile generals or politicians, but they are immensely respectful and deeply meaningful to the small gathering.
If you are thinking about ANZAC Day and live close to a regional town, please make a serious consideration to attend the local Dawn Service. Not only will you find attending significantly easier in relation to parking, but it has such a personal feel. Importantly, the Diggers will be so touched to see you.
In Queanbeyan this year, the Dawn Service will commence at 5.30am at the memorial on the intersection of Lowe Street and Kings Highway. Timings for other Dawn Service do differ, for example Bungendore is at 6am. To find out about Dawn Services in regional towns, check with the local council (Yass, Palerang, Cooma, and Queanbeyan City) or RSL.