This is my favourite photo from when I was in Gallipoli in 1997.
A bus full of Aussie and Kiwis poured out at each memorial site within the National Park. We didn’t have a guide to go around the 10 or so sites we endeavoured to get to – but then we didn’t really need a guide. We all grew up with the stories of these places. On the bus was the time to share with each other what we’d learned from childhood onwards about places called The Nek, Lone Pine, and Shrapnel Valley.
Once the bus stopped, there was no talking. Everyone scattered. Lots stood quietly, walking the tracks in silence. We tidied the graves as we went – picking out weeds, chipping of bird droppings, using our drinking bottles to water the plants that other visitors had planted previously. At two stops we searched for the grave stones of family.
One of our first stops was Anzac Cove. It was such a beautiful day. The sun shining, birds were chirping. The only thing missing was a bunch of kids skylarking in the water. You could have heard a pin drop, until Scotty started playing the “kiwi lament” on his harmonica. Awesome. Haunting. Extraordinarily touching.
We were running out of time as there’s a curfew on the Park access. We voted to skip a few places so we could make it up to Chanuk Bair – the New Zealand memorial. It’s a stunning memorial. It is also one of the few that still has maintained trenches at the site. The sun was starting to set so we had to go. This is when the boys in particular didn’t want to leave. A lot of bartering and maneuvering was attempted with the bus driver to come back in the morning and pick up those who wanted to sleep rough on the hill. No go. Such a wrench to leave – no one was ready to go.
Lest we forget.