19 April 2023

Anzac Day tradition returns to The Dock for fourth year running

| Travis Radford
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Person holding candle at The Dock's dawn service

The Dock holds a dawn service from 5:30 am every Anzac Day. Photo: The Dock.

Since 2020, each Anzac Day at 5:30 am, The Dock has fired up its TVs and turned up its speakers to broadcast the dawn service to the entire Kingston foreshore.

The tradition began after the ACT entered its first lockdown the month before Anzac Day 2020, forcing the Australian War Memorial to transition to a broadcast-only service.

“We sent a message around to all the residents and they were really keen because no one was allowed to go to the War Memorial,” says The Dock co-owner Ben Alexander.

“We had lots of people coming out to their balconies and lighting candles at the foreshore. It was a very special moment during a crazy time in all our lives.”

Ben thought ‘job well done’, without ever anticipating the broadcast of the dawn service would become an annual tradition for the lakeside bar.

“But then the next year, all the residents asked if we’re doing it again and then even more people came down, and then we’re doing it again,” he says.

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Ben says broadcasting the service has now evolved to cater to local residents who are less mobile and can’t make it in-person.

“It’s really important to play a part in the way people remember the Anzacs … and we have a lot of servicemen and women who drink at the pub,” Ben says.

“We just feel it’s a great day to celebrate them and previous generations and the sacrifices they’ve made so that we get to live the life we do.”

Following the dawn service, breakfast is served from 6 am and The Dock holds its second tradition of the day, the Running for Resilience march.

Running for Resilience (R4R) is a tri-weekly run sponsored by The Dock to raise awareness of the goal of making Canberra suicide-free by 2033.

“Last year, Anzac Day and Running for Resilience fell on the same day, so we thought, let’s do a morning run from The Dock,” Ben says.

Although the two events won’t overlap this year, Ben says they are a natural fit and plans to host a special run again this year.

Former Captain in the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers Ingrid Gillingham has been attending R4R since it first launched in 2019.

“I saw R4R on The Dock’s social media and thought it seemed like a great idea, not knowing it would become a regular habit,” she says.

“Initially, it was a great way to get some exercise in, enjoy a drink and dinner afterwards and an opportunity to meet new people.

“Now, it is so much more than that. R4R provides an opportunity for people to find support in community and movement.”

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Ingrid says Anzac Day is also very special to her as a veteran. She had gone to large dawn services in past years – until she went to The Dock’s for the first time last year.

“The Dock is unique in their approach to the community and they really seek to make moments that are important to their community, special and memorable,” she says.

“The friendly vibe of The Dock feeling like a second home and a pub that gives back to its community has kept me going back for the last six years.”

After the morning activities, games of two-up will be held from noon, with all proceeds going to the Soldier On, which supports current and former service personnel.

Later in the day, The Dock will screen two football games, at 3:15 pm (Essendon v Collingwood) and 4 pm (Roosters v Dragons), with live music from 5 pm.

Ben says the day is shaping up to be one of The Dock’s biggest ever with the pub being close to booked out and accepting walk-ins only.


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