A small bay in Gallipoli
The hotel was kind enough to give everyone on the tour a 6am wake up call. We were thankful that we left the bar at somewhat a reasonable hour considering that a number or people looked shocking after only getting a few hours sleep. Most of the group had made it down stairs with their packed bags by the 8am departure time, but unfortunately there's always 1 or 2 in a group that spoils it by sleeping through the call and snoring their way through the banging at the door. Whilst a few people were trying to rouse the stragglers, the guys proceeded to load up the bus with all the bags as there wasn't enough room in the hotel to store them.
Because of the late departure there were a few more cars on the road so it took a bit longer to get out of the city and onto the main highway.
Lots of little fishing boats
Once we were on the road we were introduced to our local tour leader who provided some insight into the city, the history and various towns and landmarks on the way to Gallipoli. The main thing that we noticed on the drive was the number of military installations around the place. We were informed by the local guide that the military act as the police in the rural areas and as they have compulsory national service they also need barracks and training grounds for all the recruits.
We stopped a few times to get some food and also supplies for the night ahead. This of course meant we were even further behind schedule so when we arrived at the Gallipoli Museum. Unfortunately quite a number of other tour buses had the same idea, yet made it there earlier, so there was quite a queue and it was decided that we give it a miss, take a look around and then head off to see the various areas that would be host to the services the following morning.
View from the war museum which we didn't go into
Our first stop was Lone Pine which is the Australian memorial ground. The place was set up with seating and large video screens which surrounded the numerous head stones of fallen soldiers. We took some time to walk around and look at the head stones, so many young lives were lost. We then headed up to Chanuk Bair which is the New Zealand memorial ground. A number of trenches from the war remained in the area so we spend some time walking around trying to imagine what it would have been like moving around in the trenches with bullets flying above and dead or wounded below.
Shortly after we all got back on the coach for the short ride down to near ANZAC cove where everyone jumped off and made their way to the security check.
After a quick bag check everyone received a goody bag with some information about the night, history of the ANZACs and a pack of ANZAC biscuits. Let me tell you they were fantastic. The area set aside for the ceremony was two small grassed areas surrounded by stands. It was surprising that the area was so small. Thankfully there was still some space left on the grass - would not have enjoyed trying to sleep in the stands. The other TopDeck tour that was there had saved some room for us so we rolled out our sleeping bags and sat around chatting for the afternoon, not wanting to go anywhere for fear of losing our spot or having to try and navigate through all the other sleeping bags nearby. And it wasn't long before the entire grassed area was completely full with laid out sleeping bags.
There was a continuous stream or people for the afternoon and even throughout the whole night - bus load after bus load and all the stands gradually filled up. As the sun began to set, the temperature dropped, the thermals went on and most people slipped into their sleeping bags.
During the evening and night there was "entertainment" in the form of short documentaries, some army bands playing army themed tunes, interviews and much more. Something was happening every half an hour or so during the entire night so Craig didn't get any sleep, but Bec and Mel managed to nod off.