The actions of Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War’s Gallipoli campaign left a powerful legacy. Inspired by that bloody campaign, The “Anzac legend” has become an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping our views of the past and the future.

Anzac Day commemorations have been held since 1916, and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra continues this tradition, commemorating not only the Anzacs, but the courage and sacrifice of all Australian servicemen and women during periods of war and peace. 

This year, the concluding year of the centenary of the First World War, images of Australian servicemen and servicewomen from a variety of actions and battles across the history of Australia’s Military Service will be projected for two evenings onto the Memorial’s facade, from April 23 until the commencement of the Dawn Service on Anzac Day, April 25, at 5.30am. The final 15 minutes of projections will focus on contemporary conflicts and include images from renowned photographer Gary Ramage.

Crowds gathered in the dark for the start of the Dawn Service in front of the Australian War Memorial
The Dawn Service starts at 5.30am on the grounds in front of the Australian War Memorial

You will need to rise early for the Dawn Service, which starts at 5.30am on the grounds in front of the Australian War Memorial. If you can, arrive by 4.30am to hear excerpts from the letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war first hand. Bring a torch and rug up – as it will be dark and chilly – but there’s no more moving way to mark Anzac Day.

This year’s Dawn Service Address will be delivered by retired Colonel Susan Neuhaus CSC, who served in the Regular Army and Army Reserve, with deployments to Cambodia, Bougainville and Afghanistan, over a career spanning 20 years.

Following the Dawn Service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association (ATSIVSA) host a ceremony at 6.30am at the Aboriginal Memorial plaque on Mount Ainslie to remember Indigenous Australians who have served in the Australian forces since 1901.

You can also hear Memorial senior historian Dr Aaron Pegram discussing the Second battle of Villers Bretonneux at a breakfast event to be held in Anzac Hall at 6.30am. Tickets are available to the public and can be purchased online.

A man walking in front of a crowd at the Australia War Memorial on Anzac Day
Canberra’s Anzac Day commemorations will finish with the daily Last Post Ceremony at 4.45pm

The Anzac Day National Ceremony including the RSL’s Anzac Day Veterans’ March begins at 10.30am with the traditional order of service, including the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand, the Commemorative Address, the laying of wreaths, the reading of hymns, the sounding of the Last Post, and the observance of one minute’s silence. Hear from The Hon Kim Beazley AC, as well as former Rat of Tobruk, Bob Semple, an Australian Second World War veteran.

Canberra’s Anzac Day commemorations will finish with the daily Last Post Ceremony at 4.45pm in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial.

These Anzac Day ceremonies attract large crowds, so be sure to leave plenty of travel time and considering walking or registering for free bus travel to the Dawn Service or National Ceremony. Visit awm.gov.au for transport, ticketing and more information.