Canberrans will mark the 101st anniversary of the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli in a variety of ways this Monday, attending dawn services and partaking in the simple pleasures of life our diggers so cherished – reminiscing over a drink and a game of two-up and watching some sport.
However, there will be added poignancy at the traditional Anzac Day activities on the site of the original Canberra Services Club on Canberra Avenue.
Given the proposed redevelopment of the adjacent Manuka Oval, this may well be the last time people gather at the venue, as they have done for many years and despite the temporary move to Barton following a fire at the former premises.
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Last year more than 1,000 people took part in the club’s two-up games, with an estimated 4,000 attending throughout the day.
This year the Australian Federal Police chaplain will preside over a dawn service at 5am, with rum and milk – a favourite tipple of the diggers – served afterwards.
Breakfast will be served from 6-9am, and the day’s activities will recommence at midday for the two-up games, which will run until 6pm.
There will be a full bar and food and coffee stalls, and children are welcome, though early afternoon is probably the best time for them before the crowds build up.
All profits from the two-up go to Soldier On and War Widows.
Of course, the biggest dawn service will be at the Australian War Memorial, conducted in close cooperation with the Returned and Services League of Australia ACT.
The service will be followed by the national ceremony and the last post ceremony.
Many other clubs around the ACT will also commemorate Anzac Day with dawn services, fund-raising two-up games and live sport telecasts, including Eastlake Football Club, the Calwell Club, Sports Club Kaleen, Ainslie Football Club, Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club, the Hellenic Club of Canberra, Raiders Weston, Magpies Sports Club, Raiders Belconnen, Belconnen Soccer Club McKellar and Belconnen Soccer Club Hawker.
Vikings Erindale is offering bully beef and a beer for $15, and Vikings Chisholm free drinks for all medal bearers.
The Tradies at Dickson is offering a complimentary breakfast for active and returned servicemen ($17 for members), while there will be barefoot bowls all day at the RUC at Turner.
To get in the commemorative spirit early, you can pick up a box of Anzac Biscuits for $8.20 from Deeks Bakery & Cafe stores in Pearce and Dickson, with all funds going to Soldier On.