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If you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, Anzac is just one of those things you have to cross off your ‘to-do’ list.

So pack your sleeping bag, follow this guide and head out for Gallipoli to discover the delights of this pine-clad peninsula, then join in the popular all-night vigil under the stars, and end your tour scuffing your toes in the turf where those brave Anzacs laid down their lives.

What is Anzac Day?

If you were schooled in New Zealand or Australia and don’t know what Anzac Day is, you should hang your head in shame. Ah, who are we kidding? We spent our history lessons throwing gobbed-up bits of paper into the teacher’s hair every time she faced the blackboard (for which we are not proud).

Anyway, we’ve done our research since then and can tell you that Anzac is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and Anzac Day commemorates the fateful April 25, 1915, when soldiers from both countries were boated in across the Dardanelles to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey on orders from England.

As in many other WWI conflicts, a major botch up at Allied High Command meant that, instead of being sent in via the fairly easy slope of Brighton beach, the Anzacs were landed in a cove where they had to scale a steep and rugged hillside at dawn, surrounded by what one soldier described as “shrapnel bullets striking the water with a noise like the popping of corks when drawn from champagne bottles”.Amazingly, the Anzacs conquered the cove and clung to that scrubby two-kilometre-long plot of land for more than eight months, but 8709 Australian and 2721 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives during these events that were later known asThe Gallipoli Campaign.

Afterwards the word Anzac became so popular in Australia and New Zealand that people used it to name everything from their new company to their cute kitten, until 1916 when the Commonwealth government stepped in and voted a law that would control the use of the legendary name.

What happens on an Anzac tour?

You can co-ordinate your trip with a visit to Turkey’s capital,Istanbul, as most operators offer one- or two-day tours with pick-ups from the city. Stock up on evil eye charms and the bus that will take you to Eceabat. Here you have lunch –and get what might be your first experience of those hole-in-the-floor Turkish toilets – before crossing the Dardanelles to the Gallipoli peninsula.

Arriving at Anzac cove late evening you’ll prepare for the night’s vigil – bring a sleeping bag and plenty of warm clothes because it gets cold up in them there hills, but dress in layers so you can sling them off again on the long slog up to Pine Hill.

 


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Anzac tour of Gallipolli, Turkey
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