Happy ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) Day!
Like Veterans Day in the United States, Australia has created ANZAC day as a public holiday in memory of all of the soldiers lost in war and to thank all those who dedicate their lives to protect. Australia has not been part of many wars (no boarder disputes) and those they have entered they joined in order to administer peace. Australia and New Zealand joined together during WW1 in attempt to aid Great Britain and the Allied forces. Australia knew that if Great Britain, the mother land, fell to the Axis Powers, it would then also be in danger.
As I understand it, ANZAC helped in the Battle of Gallipoli, as the Allied forces attempted to gain control of the Gallipoli penninsula and trade route to Russia. The battle was fierce and both sides lost many lives. It was the greatest number of casualties in Australian history and the beginning of the battle, April 25 became ANZAC day. The loss, though small in comparison to the numbers other countries lost in the war, was a significant loss to the Australian people.
The Shrine of Remembrance was built in Melbourne to honor the fallen and I woke up for the dawn service to commemorate the day. Bands played, speeches and poems were read. After the service I waited to walk through the shrine and lay a red poppy flower at the center. The red poppy resembles the blood shed and everyone buys the flower to pay respects.
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.
- For the fallen by Laurence Binyon
It was a beautiful service and put Australia in a very good light. The country is not greedy, wanting to expand land. I guess the closest land to claim is New Zealand, but the relationship between Australia and New Zealand has been peaceful. Instead of war and destruction the people want peace. Instead of fighting for independence from Great Britain, the majority of Australians are content with their current life style and fine with the way things are. Australia has its own little corner of the world, with low population, good weather, abundant resources, and high living standards. What more could they want? And I guess it’s nice to find a land that recognizes all they have and are simply content.
After the service we grabbed some breakfast from the hostel. I tried Vegemite for the first time and the pictures really say it all. “Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives developed by Cyril P. Callister in Melbourne, Victoria in 1922″ (Wikipedia). Australians like it, foreigners can’t stand it.
Not my favorite! It’s salty and sour and impossible to explain. I guess it’s the true test to see if you’re Australian or not.
As it was our last day in the city, already, we spent most of the day exploring the city. There was a big ANZAC day parade, including a band of bagpipes (so cool!):
I went to the Museum of Melbourne to learn about aboriginal history (free to students, very cool) and at 2 o’clock we went kayaking on the river that separates the city from South Bank. The river could have been cleaner, but it was a nice experience with the best views. The weather was perfect, a beautiful day!
Afterwards I watched a footy match in the middle of Federation Square. Melbourne is big on Footy, with 11 footy teams from the city alone. It was a tight match and footy is definitely my new favorite sport. It is technically Australian football, but it is so different from American football. They don’t wear pads or helmets. They fist punch the ball forward and punt kick it to each other on a round field. It’s a very rough game and it’s always moving so it’s really exciting and keeps my attention.
After the match it was already time to leave. We got to the airport in good time and made it back to Sydney safe and sound. It was a good 3 days of break, taking me away from the stress of school and giving me a different perspective on Australia.
Overall Melbourne is a nice city, but I’m very glad I live in Sydney! <3