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THE PREMIER’S ANZAC PRIZE TRIP 2015

23/06/2015

THE PREMIER’S ANZAC PRIZE TRIP 2015

 
The Premier’s Anzac Prize Trip in the year of the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landing was held from 21 April until 7 May this year.  There were 80 people in our group heading for Turkey, Belgium and France – 70 students and 10 teachers from all over Queensland.  The aim of our journey was to commemorate ANZAC Day at Gallipoli and then conduct services and commemorations for soldiers and nurses from all the wars as we travelled across two continents, visiting memorials and cemeteries as we went.  Callum and I had spent months researching service-people ready for the journey and for ANZAC Day.
 
 Arriving in Istanbul from Singapore, we set out to make the most of our day of sightseeing.  We visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace and shopped in the Grand Bazaar.  The next morning we set out for the Gallipoli Peninsula and waited in line with hundreds of other buses to be allowed into Mimosa Park for the night and then finally shuttled to the site for the Dawn Service.  It was a freezing night but we were comforted somewhat by the sleeping bags provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  When the Dawn Service started, it was made all the more significant by the use of ethereal music, and the blue lights on the water and ships at Anzac Cove as well the cliffs behind which had also been lit up for the occasion.  The crowd was silent for the service and the only sound was the waves rolling in to the beach.  Afterwards, we climbed up Artillery Road to the site of Lone Pine for the Australian Service which was extremely moving.  We then returned to Mimosa Park to await our buses. 
 
For the next few days, while staying at Canakkale, we visited the ancient site of Troy and travelled all over the Gallipoli Peninsula visiting memorials such as Cape Hellas, Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair, Canakkale Matyrs Memorial and the Turkish 57th Regiment Memorial and visited many cemeteries like Beach, Shrapnel Valley, Ari Burnu, 7th Field Ambulance, Walker’s Ridge and Quinn’s Post.  The group made the climb up to the heights of Plugge’s Plateau to examine the coastline and imagine the scale of the battle facing the allies.
 
 From Gallipoli, we flew to the Western Front.  We arrived in Brussels, the capital of Belgium and began a day of sightseeing – the Royal Palace, Atomium, Grand Place, Manneken Pis and tried the famous Belgium waffles. From Brussels, it was on to Bruges for a cruise on the town’s canals and shopping in the Market Square.  From there we went to Ieper for a tour of the Flanders Field Museum and then were part of the ceremony at the Menin Gate. Our choir was amazing singing at the Menin Gate Service.  In Belgium, we visited Hill 60 and the cemeteries of Messines Ridge, Cite Bonjean, Trois Arbres, Langemark and Tyne Cot.  Then we headed towards France and visited Fromelles, Lille, Bullecourt, the Windmill, Pozières, Mouquet Farm, the Thiepval Memorial, Lochnager Crater, Albert and Amiens.  We visited many cemeteries in France but it was Villers Bretonneux Australian Cemetery where we held a special service that had a great impact.  It was also a moving experience to visit the museum and school dedicated to Australia in the township of Villers Bretonneux.  The French people were so welcoming, provided us with lunch and gave us a memento of the occasion.
 
On our last day, we visited Paris for more sightseeing – Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph. The trip was an amazing experience for both the students and the teachers.  The highlights for Callum included the hike up Plugge’s Plateau and the breathtaking scenery, the Dawn and Lone Pine Services, the water cruise in Bruges, all the shrapnel he found and the commemoration of his Great, Great Uncle on top of the tower at Villers Bretonneux.  I was experiencing Turkey for a second time and so the trip was revisiting special places like Lone Pine, Beach Cemetery and Shrapnel Valley Cemetery where I met journalist, Ray Martin, and singer, Eric Bogle, of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” fame.  The country scenery in Belgium and France was amazing and it was hard to imagine the people picking up their lives and starting over again after World War One. I was also able to commemorate my Great Uncle at the Adelaide Cemetery outside of Villers Bretonneux.  The trip certainly held many unforgettable moments for us, and we were sharing these with people who had become close friends in such a short time but it was the special commemorations and services which had the most lasting impact on us. 
 
 There was a humanitarian aspect to our trip as we were asked to raise money for Mates4Mates, an organisation that helps returned service-people with physical injuries and/or psychological trauma. Through a sausage sizzle, an ANZAC biscuit drive, an old-fashioned toffee shop and some very generous donations, we were able to donate $2160.00 to Mates4Mates and $530.00 to the Caboolture R.S.L. to further their charity work.  We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Young, Mrs. Creffield, Mrs. Tett, Ms. Ralph, Mrs. Stanger, Mrs. Ferguson and Mr. Branch for their wonderful help with fundraising and all the fantastic people of the school community who gave generously in time for ANZAC Day. 
 
 Callum Young (Year 11) and Ms. Harman