Friday, May 1, 2009

Istanbul Tour D-3 "Let Us Remember Them"


Day 4 of Tour

The Night we slept at Anzac Cove

Today started off good, there was a strange type of feeling with everyone in the group. Karina was saying that it felt as if it was Christmas, just minus the presents. In the previous day, to avoid being totally board on the bus, the group asked me to do a quick public presentation on the History of Anzac Day for all the people on the bus, I thought it wasn’t such a bad idea, because ill be honest, I didn’t know all that much about the day, so it wasn’t a bad idea for myself to learn about the day as well as the group. So I started my study the night before, I was only about 20 minutes in when all the guys from my tour thought it would be a good idea, if we had a bit of drink to celebrate what was going to happen, unfortunately they chose my room to party in, so a severe lack of study was done for me to prepare for this talk. Anyway, I jotted down a few notes, and then fell asleep waiting for the epic day.

Right, so as I said, there was a strange type of feeling going round in the room, today was the day, that we were going to pay our respects to the 20,000 Australians that lost their lives in the battle of Gallipoli.

So we left our hotel at about 915am and started our 4.5 hour drive that would get us to Gallipoli, the trip went quickly because we were so eager to see Anzac Cove and the Lonely Pine.
We arrived to Gallipoli at about 1400, and our tour guide drove us around to all the sites so we can walk around and check it all out. We firstly started off at the Lone Pine then we went to the Turkish 57th Regiment Cemetery then we drove all the way up to Chunuk-Bair, which is New Zealand’s memorial and cemetery.

The Lone Pine Cemetery was amazing, you walk in, and you see the memorial built for all the New Zealanders that died, then you notice the Pine tree that stands out so much around all the tomb stones. As you walk around the cemetery and look at all the stones you really get an idea of how young these soldiers were.

1707 Private
3rd En.Australian Inf.
7/12 August 1915 Age 19
Rest In Peace

1393 Private
11th En.Australia Inf.
12 May 1915 Age 16
He Sleeps Where The Anzac Heros Came To Do And Die

Reading these tombstones is heart breaking, as most of these soldiers were around my age, and the thing that made me most upset and emotional was that these kids were looking forward to go overseas and explore the country, they wanted to go and fight, they didn’t realize that they were going to face death.

Whilst reading all the tomb stones I hear someone calling my name, so we had to leave and head up to the Turkey cemetery. So off the bus took, up the narrow road, we pulled into the carpark, and walked into the cemetery, Wow… what a surprise, there are HUGE poster of Ataturk placed all over the cemetery. There are Turkish flags lined up next to all the graves, it gives you a totally different feeling than lone pine. Walking through the cemetery you really get a respect for Ataturk. Reading some of the things that the Australian Soldiers have written about the Turk’s makes your proud to be an Australian.

After visiting the Turkish Cemetery we then headed off to Chunuk-Bair. This is the New Zealand memorial and cemetery. I think the New Zealand side of ANZAC is a lot more personal for them. They lost over 2,500 soldiers during the first day. In the first 2 days of arriving to Gallipoli, out of every 10 New Zealanders 8 of them would be carrying an injury or illness (i think). There was a HUGE statue of Ataturk situated just behind the New Zealand memorial, on this there was a diary entry from Ataturk describing a situation of when Ataturk was caught off guard by the English and was shot in the heart. Ataturk went down, but was not dead. The pocket watch that was covering his heart had shattered, it was amazing reading this story, it definitely kept you on the edge of your seat.

After visiting the Australian, Turkish and New Zealand memorials we headed back near the city, where we had our ANZAC BBQ, where all the people of our tour attended. It was awesome food, lots of meat, salads and wraps. It was a good feed. Filled myself to the brim, but then unfortunately had to take a bit of a poo, so I went to the toilet, only to realize it is a squatter one. Now ill be honest with you all, I’ve been camping like once or twice, but it was all pretty civilized with toilets etc. This was the first time that I have used a squatter… and it was AMAZING! I honestly enjoy them more than a normal toilet. It was a bit of an experience for me.
So after this episode we were all counting down the minutes until we left, most of us (including me) were digging around in our bags trying to find as much stuff to put on. By the end of it, I had

• 2 Short Sleeved T-Shirts
• 2 Long Sleeved T-Shirts
• 1 ANZAC day Singlet
• 1 Hawks Footy Top
• 1 Light Jumper
• 1 Heavy Jumper
• 1 pair of Jeans
• 1 pair of footy socks.
And incase I got even colder, I had:
• 1 pair of explorer socks
• 1 pair of Trackie Pants
• 1 Wetsuit top (for if it got TOTALLY freezing) (i can hear EB already)

And I was in a sleeping bag on top of that. So I was properly set. We got to ANZAC cove and it was freezing. You could feel the coldness on your bones. It was freezing. I was super keen to be sleeping on the grass, whilst the rest of my tour wanted the seats, so I went up with them and found some seats, which were mega uncomfortable and cold, so I hung with them for 30minutes, and went off to find a good spot on the grass. It was totally packed but I was able to find a spot that was on the corner, but at least it was on the grass. We were watching the huge T.V’s that were situated on either end of the road. They had movies, interviews and music playing, so it kept the crowd entertained. At 2330, I was getting a bit tired, so I rolled my sleeping bag out, got my pillow and ended up having a 4-5 hour sleep. It was awesome. Unfortunately I missed out on the big K.Rudd Speech, i really wanted to hear it so I can thank him for the $900, but I slept through it.

I was woken to the one of the MC’s (who ended up being the dude from Australian Top Gear) yelling at all of up to “WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP” So we were all woken up at 430 in pitch black and freezing cold. We then waited around, and watched a few presentations on the big screens, about how young the soldiers were.

The Dawn Service started at 520 in morning. It was very moving listening to all the stories being told. I thought the New Zealand prime minister was quite good telling us all the stories about Gallipoli. Then the last post started at 618 on the 25th of April. It was a very eerie experience. The whole of Gallipoli was dead silent, all you could hear were the waves washing up on the beach. The one minute silence was quite hard, as everyone was so tired from the lack of sleep, and emotional because of all the people that were wounded and killed.

After the service, we packed up our sleeping bags, and headed off over to the Lone Pine, which is a 45 Minute walk from ANZAC Cove, and the walk up there, isn’t a stroll in the park, it’s quite a steep incline up to Lonely Pine, but we battled on through. I kept on thinking, if I think I’m doing it tough “harden the f*ck up, fix ya tu-tu and walk up that hill, because the Aussie Diggers were doing it a lot tougher than me” so up I went, powering up the mountain.

When we got to the top, I was sweating like a pig, with still, one thousand layers on, I was roasting. So the first thing I did when I got to the top, was to strip off. Off came all the layers, and packed into my bag.

The Lonely Pine was scattered with people, we found a spot in between the different rows of graves and sat down there waiting for the service to start. The sun was shining bright and it was getting quite hot. It felt as if I was melting in the sun, even though I had stripped off, I was still roasting with my jeans on. I was so exhausted from the night, I think I kept on having micro-sleeps whilst listening to the service. The Australian service was a little bit tedious, as there wasn’t as many stories, but more about thanking everyone that attended the service. When the service finished, we were made to wait because the V.I.P had to leave, this kind of sucked, because we only had a limited amount of time before we were going to be able to make it into the Turkish memorial. So off I went, the group stayed behind at the Lone Pine, because they were exhausted, but I really wanted to see the Turkish and New Zealand service. Unfortunately the way it turned out that I couldn’t get into the Turkish service, because I was too late. I wasn’t really bothered, that I missed it, because whilst waiting outside the walls, I could just see what was happening inside. All the Turks were waving flags, and the place was buzzing with intensity.
Once the service finished, all the VIP’s were escorted onto the VIP bus, and then let the rest of the public waiting outside to have a look inside the Turkish Memorial and Cemetery.

I stayed there for about 20 minutes, wandering around the cemetery. Then I thought I should probably walk up to Chunuk-Bair. I didn’t realize how long and difficult the walk was. I might just add, that I had gotten my jeans off and was now walking around in boardies, my Nike kicks, and my hawks top with a long sleeved underneath. So I was pretty comfy, apart for the average shoes. I was kicking myself, I knew I should have taken my runners… Nevermind. Anyway, this walk was along the road, it took about 1.5 hours going up, and only about 1.25 coming home. I kept on thinking, “Mum would be proud”.

When I finally made it to Chunuk-Bair, the service had only just started, I think it was maybe 5-10 minutes in. So I wasn’t too late. I honestly think, that the New Zealand service was the most touching and personal, because of the amount of people that died, in such a small and new country. The stories that were being told were heart wrenching, definitely pulled at the heart strings. At the end of the service, a group of New Zealand Maoris’ had started the haka, at the time I thought it was pretty disrespectful, but when I found out that it was legit and proper, it made it pretty special.

The service finished, and we AGAIN had to wait another 30 minutes for the VIP’s to leave, when we were let out, a huge cheer was let out, everybody there was totally sick of waiting for the VIP’s. The huge walk home was now on.

It was a lot easier walking home, mainly because it was downhill, but also because I was now so excited to have seen all the services and paid my respects to all the people that had died for our country. On the way back to the bus, I had a look at ‘The Nek’ and ‘Quinn’s Post’ it was amazing reading the stories on all the plaques.

When I made it too the bus, everyone was waiting for me, looking pretty refreshed after their sleep. When I got on the bus, I stunk but I really didn’t care (I think other did) and just got into the seat, and just crashed. When I woke up, we were back in the city of Gallipoli, awaiting our 6 hour transfer to Istanbul.

It was a terrible bus ride, with not much sleep involved. When we arrived at the hotel, I was wrecked but really wanted to go out to celebrate the ANZAC’s but no one wanted to go out because we were all buggered. So I went into a mates room, and we just chatted about the day.
It was definitely an amazing day and I hope that everyone gets the opportunity to pay our respects to the ANZAC’s.

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.


  1. Being at Gallipoli for ANZAC will be something you will remember all your life. From reading about it we can feel the emotion.

    Your grandparents have told us they are amazed and very very proud of you.

  2. Hey Steve,

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your ANZAC Day experience. Looking forward to seeing your photos from ANZAC Cove. Steve & I went to the Dawn Service at the Shrine along with 40000 other Melburians, kept thinking of you being over where it had all started.
    Take care Steve & travel well.
    Cheers Martin.