25 Apr 2015

Australians commemorate Anzac Day

11:51 am on 25 April 2015

A record crowd of 120,000 has gathered for the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

A girl places a poppy at the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial after the ANZAC Day dawn service in Canberra, Saturday, April 25, 2015.

A girl places a poppy at the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial after the ANZAC Day dawn service in Canberra, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Photo: AAP

Seating was full at the parade ground by 5.00am, with tens of thousands of people packing in to view the solemn service.

An Indigenous sailor broke the silence and begun the service playing the didgeridoo in commemoration of the Anzac sacrifice.

The sound of Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Alan Paaterson's didgeridoo split the dawn and echoed across the parade ground on a mild Canberra morning.

Today marks 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops launched a bloody attack on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Chief of the Army Lieutenant General David Morrison gave an emotive address on the value of the Anzac soldiers in Australia's national history.

He paid tribute to the generation that served in the First World War.

"They were through fate and bloody circumstance Anzacs by name, but more essentially, men and woman changed by war," he said.

General Morrison told of how their record of events had shaped the views of Australians.

"Their letters and their diary entries in copper plate handwriting more formal in expression to our modern idiom adds a layer to the sense that they were somehow different," he said.

"Their world, their hopes, their aspirations and fears are removed from ours by more than just the passage of 100 years.

"They are a generation seemingly set apart."

People young and old travel to Canberra for service

Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said the crowd of 120,000 was an increase of more than 80,000 on last year.

"Certainly anecdotally I know that we have had people that have driven from Townsville, from Adelaide, and from Melbourne," he said.

"Some very elderly people that have been brought here by sons, grandsons and granddaughters.

"And there are people who would not normally come to a dawn service that made it their business and priority to be here."

Judy and Hector Brown travelled from northern Victoria to attend the dawn service in Canberra.

"We've never been to a dawn service before actually, but I think it will be more emotional in the early light," Ms Brown said.

"We've been to ordinary services, and we thought it would be good to come up here and see the dawn service at the national memorial."

Both had relatives who died during WWI leaving a gaping wound in their families.

"I had two uncles who serviced, including one who was at Gallipoli and was wounded in the leg, he later went to the western front and was wounded again before returning to Australia," Ms Brown said.

"But the other uncle called Harry Hare died on the way home.

"It was so sad for the family who went to meet him at the boat because didn't know he had died at sea."

Thousands of people are seen near the stone of remembrance during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Thousands of people are seen near the stone of remembrance during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Photo: AAP

Hundreds gather for Indigenous Anzac centenary service

Hundreds of people have attended an Anzac centenary ceremony remembering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served in war.

Following the Australian War Memorial dawn service, about 300 people moved to the Aboriginal Memorial Plaque on Canberra's Mount Ainslie.

Garth O'Connell from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association said it was an incredible turn out.

"It was huge, a lot more than I expected, in both the numbers and the emotions," he said.

"It is very significant in more ways than one, to have this recognition not just in our community but also speeding across the country."

At least 1000 Indigenous Australians served in World War I, the crowd was told.

Members of the Albert Battery shoot a volley of fire during the Anzac Day dawn service at Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club on the Gold Coast on Saturday, April 25, 2015

Members of the Albert Battery shoot a volley of fire during the Anzac Day dawn service at Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club on the Gold Coast. Photo: AAP

- ABC

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