Peter's Blog

ANZAC Day Commemoration Services

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:35): I would like to talk about the recent ANZAC Day events in my electorate. I am sure that most of us here in this place attended various events across their electorate on that day.

After laying a wreath at a crisp dawn service in Port Lincoln and attending the gunfire breakfast at the local RSL, I headed with the federal member for Grey out to what we know locally as Gallipoli beach. Gallipoli beach (what was then the unnamed beach) featured in the Peter Weir movie Gallipoli, made in 1981. It was filmed at this particular spot because of its geographical similarity to Anzac Cove in Turkey. It has a series of cusps and is backed by hills, and it was found to be eminently suitable for the filming of the battle scenes. Also Yallunda Flat and I think some other local scenery were used. Some local residents were also used as extras in that movie. 1981 is a long time ago now, and it has been known ever since then as Gallipoli beach.

Back in 2015, a committee of locals came together to organise something to be held at Gallipoli beach to commemorate the centenary of the landing at Anzac Cove in 1915. They decided they would try to put on a service at Gallipoli beach to coincide with the dawn service at Gallipoli beach in Turkey. At 20 past 11 on ANZAC Day 2015, and in fact on every day every year since, they have held a service.

Each year, apart from the original ANZAC landing of course, they have commemorated various battles in the European theatre of war. In 2018, we were commemorating the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux where a relatively small but ferocious band of Australians assisted the British in retaking the town of Villers-Bretonneux. In fact, it was the first battle ever to use tanks in modern warfare. I think there was only half a dozen on each side. It was not a great turnout, but it is remembered for that.

The town was utterly destroyed and the school was completely destroyed. The story is well known now. Of course, it was fundraising efforts by schoolchildren throughout Australia (but particularly in the state of Victoria) that allowed, by 1924, enough funds to be sent across to Villers-Bretonneux for the school to be rebuilt. I understand there is a sign in the playground at the school now that says, ‘Never forget Australia,’ so that was a nice link. In fact, we have been corresponding with that school in the lead-up to this year’s event.

I am going to give credit to the committee for their work, not just this year but for the past four years. There are a number of people on the committee, but I particularly want to identify Lee Clayton, an avid war historian. That is his hobby, and he is remarkably interested and well-informed in war history. He lives in Port Lincoln. Also there is Kerry Richter, a Coffin Bay local, who this year sang the New Zealand national anthem in Maori—which was quite a feat—and he certainly sounded pretty good. There are plans for the committee to a erect a permanent memorial a little bit down the road back towards Farm Beach where people can come and visit, and it is the culmination for them of four years’ work.

This year the crowd was particularly good. It was the biggest crowd that has attended so far. I think they estimated about 400 people. That does not sound a lot to a city electorate, but given the remoteness of the site and the trek that is needed to get there—it is about four kilometres up a windy beach track from Farm Beach—it is no mean feat to get along there, but many do and pay homage to the efforts of Australians overseas during not just the First World War, but all wars.

There was a fly-past, where nine or 10 light aircraft flew past at about 11am. There was a welcome to country from the Indigenous Neo people, a flag-raising ceremony, a wreath-laying ceremony, and the bugler played the Last Post and Reveille. There was a minute’s silence, and there were the Australian and New Zealand national anthems, with, as I said, the New Zealand national anthem being sung in Maori.

I was invited to give the commemorative address. I am going to tell you that the Prime Minister of Australia was not the only one who spoke French that day. Unbeknown to me there was a French speaker in the audience and she gave me three out of 10. Anyway, we had a go. It was a very enjoyable day. My congratulations to the committee for all their work.