31 January 2013
Anzac Day is a time for reflection and remembrance, and if you happen to be in Sydney on April 25, you won’t want to miss the events that have been scheduled in honour of this important national day of remembrance.
Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 – the word Anzac is an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. What the troops thought would be an easy, decisive victory resulted in a stalemate, and after months of battle and the loss of thousands of lives, the allied forces were evacuated.
Today, Anzac Day commemorates the sacrifices that Australians have made in the name of their country, and is among the most important dates on the calendar. From dawn memorials to the time-honoured tradition of playing two-up, there are plenty of ways to mark Anzac Day in Sydney – read on to find out more.
Visit the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the oldest green space in Sydney, and as the home of the heritage-listed Anzac Memorial, it’s the perfect place to honour Australia’s troops on April 25. Plans to fund a permanent memorial to pay tribute to New South Wales soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War were underway from as early as 1916 – the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing – and the structure was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester in 1934.
Today, the Anzac Memorial commemorates not only the lives that were lost during WWI, but also every Australian who has served his or her country in times of war.
While the memorial and the nearby reflecting pool are accessible to the public all year round – entry is free and the sites are open every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day - they take on a special significance on Anzac Day, especially during the mid-day service.
It is easy to get to the Anzac Memorial by public transit – the closest train station is Museum, and a number of public bus routes pass by Hyde Park.
Attend an Anzac Day service
Traditional Anzac Day services are held at dawn – commemorating the time of the landing at Gallipoli – and if you can’t attend the event at the Anzac Memorial, there are plenty of other options if you are keen to pay your respects.
In the Sydney CBD, the most well-known dawn service is hosted at the Cenotaph in Martin Place – this is followed with a wreath-laying ceremony and the Anzac Day March, which follows George Street to Bathurst Street and over to Hyde Park.
Elsewhere in Sydney, the Indigenous Anzac Day March takes place in Redfern in the early afternoon, and the day is capped off with a sunset service at the Cenotaph.
Play a game of two-up
One of the most unique and enduring Anzac Day traditions is to play a game of two-up. This traditional Aussie gambling game is illegal in New South Wales during the rest of the year, but permitted on April 25.
You’ll find games of two-up, which is traditionally played with pennies, taking place in pubs and clubs – especially RSL branches – throughout the day. If you have never seen two-up played before, it’s a relatively easy game to learn – players gamble on whether two or coins tossed into the air will land heads-up, tails-up or odds (one heads and one tails).
Two-up is played to mark a shared experience with Australian diggers – a military slang term for soldiers – throughout the years.