Anzac Day in a sleepy Aussie town
I’m feeling very homesick as I watch the dawn service for Anzac Day on Channel 7. It’s at Currumbin’s Elephant Rock which is my home and to see so many people attending that special service makes my heart ache. Tears are near as I listen to the bagpipes and watch the sun slowly creep through the clouds behind the rock as thousands mill around on the sand, along the pavement and up the hills to pay their respects.
I’m not there this year because I’m still working remotely and happen to be in mid-west Queensland. The town of Dingo is nearly smaller than the roadhouse that sits on the Capricorn Hwy on the other side of the coal-train railway line. Four of us leave camp and drive to the Dingo dawn service, nearly collecting a kangaroo as we head out on the dirt road of only about 200m to the highway. It’s a quick drive, less than a K and we are in Dingo. As we park we notice no more than thirty people in front of the stone memorial across from the heritage Library.
There are two spotlights over the memorial and a wobbly table in front with amplifies and a mic. On a bench sits an elderly woman and two boys around 12 year’s old. One has bare feet and he swings them under the bench as he waits for his turn to speak. He won’t have to wait long. The MC thanks everyone for attending and talks about Anzac spirit. The lady then reads a prayer that we barely hear because the microphone has stopped working. Then the two boys from the local school read a poem. Again we can’t hear it because the microphone isn’t working but maybe we wouldn’t want to as one of the boys can barely read. Gotta give him credit for giving it a go and when they are finished an elderly man pats him on the back and says, “Good job.” Obviously this was some achievement for this young bloke and he did his town proud by attempting to speak on Anzac Day.
There are only two service men in berets. One speaks and they both lay wreaths. Then the bugle sounds via a recording and my heart constricts the way it always does when I hear the haunting sound on Anzac Day. Finally as the National Anthem plays (no not sung by a locacl school child as you’d expect but again a recording) the flag that sat at half mast is raised. The MC announces the end of the ceremony and thanks us for our attendance. The sun hasn’t even risen so it isn’t even dawn (new meaning to ‘dawn service’).
We look around baffled. A ten minute service – who woulda thought.
So, we return to camp and I’m happy to watch the Currumbin service and think of all the people I know who’ll be there, particularly my sons. I look for them in the crowd but of course there are too many people and I can’t see them. I’m awash with memories of previous cold mornings standing in wet sand watching solemn faces and enjoying the feeling of ‘one’ amongst those who have come to show their respects. I miss the smell of the ocean but am glad I attended the country Dingo service and know that no matter where we are on Anzac Day we can pay our respects to the fallen and those who are serving our country today.
This year is special too because last year Kris (step-son) was still in Afghanistan serving with the Australian Army. Last year Bevil (husband) and I cried buckets in Currumbin and could barely see the slideshow screen because of the tears. We didn’t rest until Kris came home. He’s home this year with his lovely wife Elise. He’s probably marching in Brisbane later today. So though I can’t raise a glass and have a drink to you, Kris, I did pay my resects and the most repected Anzac to me is you.
Lest we forget.