Visiting the Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day

Elias Hallaj 24 April 2017

Canberrans are lucky to have so many magnificent Australian national institutions in our hometown. I’m always surprised though at how many Canberrans don’t take advantage of this during significant national days of commemoration such as ANZAC Day or during international exhibitions and sporting events.

This week the Australian War Memorial will again be hosting nationally televised ANZAC Day celebrations and if you live in Canberra it’s a great opportunity to participate in this culturally and historically significant event. It’s important to remember that Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. No matter what your views are about the disastrous Gallipoli campaign and the horrible tragedy around war and military conflict, it is the day on which we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. The spirit of Anzac, with its qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

If you want the latest information directly from the AWM it’s best to follow their Twitter account at

Anzac Day commemorations have already begun at the AWM with the projection onto the Memorial building of images of Australian servicemen and servicewomen. These projections will run until the commencement of the Dawn Service. From 4.30 am on 25 April excerpts from the letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war firsthand will be read aloud by a representative from each of the armed forces. Following these readings all will be quiet before the commencement of the Dawn Service. In Canberra the Australian War Memorial, in close cooperation with the Returned and Services League of Australia ACT, will host a Dawn Service, A National Ceremony, and The Last Post Ceremony.

The Dawn Service begins at 5.30 am and runs to 6 am. It’s also broadcast live on ABC TV for those who are unable to join us in Canberra. There is no allocated seating for the Dawn Service. Visitors are welcome to occupy the seating put in place for the National Ceremony, or stand on the Parade Ground. Visitors will be required to vacate this seating at the conclusion of the Dawn Service. As it begins in the dark prior to sunrise, On-site lighting is provided until 5.15 am. If you’re planning to drive, be aware that local road closures on Limestone Ave, Fairbairn Ave and Anzac Parade will be in effect from 2am. There is limited parking onsite for mobility impaired visitors only.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commemorative Ceremony will be held after the Dawn Service at the Aboriginal Memorial plaque on the side of Mount Ainslie, and will commence at 6.30 am. This commemorative ceremony is conducted to honour those Indigenous Australians who have served in the Australian forces since 1901. It is hosted by members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association (ATSIVSA), and is open to all members of the public.

Beginners advice: The weather is forecast to be windy, wet and cold. You must dress for the conditions. It’s a good idea to bring a small torch as the grounds can be uneven and slippery in the early hours of the morning. You should allow plenty of time to travel safely to the Memorial. Use of public transport is recommended. There has been overwhelming demand for the free bus service to the Dawn Service in past years so Transport Canberra has instigated online bookings to ensure patrons can rely on getting to the service on time. As of Monday afternoon, the services from Gungahlin Bus Station, Woden Bus Station and Westfield Belconnen have booked out. Bookings are still available at Tuggeranong Bus Station, Majura Shopping Centre, Russell Offices car park, City Bus Station and Canberra Centre (Ainslie Ave). Transport Canberra has stated that that “preference will be given to those that have pre-registered.” There is also a ticketed breakfast at the AWM which commences after the Dawn Service. It’s hosted by Dr Brendan Nelson, directly after the service in Anzac Hall from 6am. Tickets for the breakfast are $65 per person and are available to purchase from

The National Ceremony takes place from 10.30 am to 12 pm and the Commemorative Address, wreath laying, hymns, the sounding of the Last Post, observance of one minute’s silence, and the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand and the Anzac Day veterans’ march coordinated by the ACT branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL). The National Ceremony will be broadcast live on the Memorial’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Beginners advice: Tickets for the National Ceremony are now booked out. The public is welcome to bring your own chairs or rug and view the ceremony from outside the ticketed seating areas, or on one of the many big screens which will be located on the grounds. For those who want to observe the marching please read the following brief outlining important information you will need to know on the day and ensure you are familiar with the Parade Contingent Map.

The daily Last Post Ceremony will commence at 4.55 pm in the Commemorative Area. All members of the public are welcome to attend this special ceremony concluding the Memorial’s Anzac Day commemorations of the landings on Gallipoli.

Beginners advice: It is anticipated that there will be a greater than normal number of people attending the Last Post Ceremony, therefore additional viewing screens will be placed outside the Memorial entrance for members of the public to safely view the proceedings. The ceremony will also be broadcast live on the Memorial’s Facebook page and dedicated Last Post Ceremony YouTube Channel.

Additional Security measures this year: There will be a significant security boost at te AWM this ANZAC Day, with barricades installed to guard against heavy vehicle attacks. Local Canberra ABC journalist Siobhan Heanu has reported there’s no specific threat, but AWM director Brendan Nelson says “it’s common sense to mitigate the risk of vehicle attacks” in the current heightened security environment.

If you’re in Canberra tomorrow morning, consider attending the Dawn Service and also visiting the Australian War Memorial. The AWM is unique among the world’s war memorials, because it is both a collection and a building and the building is both a museum and a shrine. The Memorial was founded to commemorate the 60,000 Australians who died in the 1914-1918 war and to tell the story of Australians in war – thus providing a setting in which visitors would gain an understanding of battlefields physically remote from Australia. Part of the Memorial’s role is to commemorate significant historical events, such as Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day, and to inform present and future generations of the place of these events in Australia’s history.

The mission of the Australian War Memorial is ‘To assist Australians to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society’ and it does that mission very well.


Elias Hallaj (aka CBRfoodie) is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who has joined RiotACT as a regular contributor. He considers himself very lucky to live in Canberra and enjoy all the national institutions that also live here, including the AWM, and his trying to teach his children to appreciate them as well. All opinions are his own. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.



What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site