Lest we forget: Thousands gather across Perth for Anzac Day

Thousands of people attended the Kings Park dawn service. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Thousands of people attended the Kings Park dawn service. Picture: Matt Jelonek

IT’S been more than a century since the first Anzac Day dawn service, but tens of thousands of West Australians still get up before the sun to remember the fallen.

People across Perth and WA honoured Australia’s servicemen and women at dawn services, and remembered the arrival of young Australians on the shores of Gallipoli under the cover of darkness on April 25, 1915.

A crowd of about 30,000 people gathered at Kings Park State War Memorial in Perth, where Premier Mark McGowan delivered the dawn service address.

Mr McGowan, who served in the Australian Navy, began by acknowledging the history of the war memorial and the first parents to visit and remember their sons lost in a faraway land.

“They remembered seeing him sail away, never to hold, never to speak to, never to kiss, never to see again,” he said.

“They will never forget the brief, grim telegram that told them of his death. Their grief and tears are soaked into the ground beneath our feet.”

Thousands gathered at Kings Park for the Dawn Service. Picture: Denise Cahill

Mr McGowan also paid tribute to modern veterans and their families, noting 58,000 Australians had served overseas since 1999.

He singled out then 19-year-old Liam Haven who had been serving in Iraq for six months in 2008 when shrapnel from a roadside bomb damaged his eyes.

“He lost his sight and very nearly his life,” Mr McGowan said.

“Since then, he has worked on welfare measures and in mental health support for other modern veterans just like him.

“His service didn’t end when he left the battlefield. I’ve never met a more inspirational or courageous person.”\

Veterans at the Kings Park dawn service in Perth. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Veterans at the Kings Park dawn service in Perth. Picture: Matt Jelonek

Mr McGowan also recognised the Australian service people currently overseas, expressing his gratitude and appreciation to former and current serving members and their families.

Mr McGowan said there 3300 Australians currently serving overseas who were potentially in harm’s way.

“We have much to be proud of. Lest we Forget.”

An estimated crowd of about 30,000 people attended the dawn service with WA Governor Kim Beazley among the dignitaries.

Haka for Life and Corroboree for Life performed traditional Maori hakas and Aboriginal dances after the Kings Park Dawn Service.

The organisations that work to prevent suicide among Maori and Aboriginal communities attracted a crowd of hundreds of people on Fraser Avenue.

Traditional Indigenous dances were performed after the Kings Park Dawn Service. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Traditional Indigenous and Maori dances were performed after the Kings Park Dawn Service. Picture: Matt Jelonek

Haka for Life founder Leon Ruri said the haka was first performed on Anzac Day in Kings Park two years ago.

“It was to honour the Anzacs as my great grandfather who fought in WWI with the New Zealand Rifle Company but also as a stand against suicide and a stand for men,” Mr Ruri said.

Thousands of people, including many young families, lined the streets of Perth for the annual Anzac Day march.

About 10,000 people watched as the march heads east along St Georges Terrace, then down Victoria Avenue and on to Langley Park where there is a sausage sizzle.

The Commemorative Service will be held at the Perth Concert Hall from 11am. More than 100 RSL sub-branches in WA will hold their own Anzac Day events.

The Last Post at the Kings Park dawn service. Picture: Matt Jelonek

Ten-year-old Max George attends the Anzac Day dawn service in Perth every year with his six-year-old brother and parents in honour of his ancestors.

His dad’s great-uncle was Jim Gordon, who received the Victoria Cross in World War Two.

Max has been learning about Anzac Day at school for the past five years and proudly did an art assignment on William Dargie, who won an Archibald prize for painting Corporal Gordon.

Max’s mum said they had also lost family on the Kokoda trail so Anzac Day was significant to commemorate.

“I think it’s pretty important for the kids to get an understanding of our history,” she told AAP.

“It’s a big part of Australian culture and they’re quite interested in the armed forces anyway.

“It’s important to relive those stories and pass them down because our grandparents have passed now, so it’s up to us to forward those stories on.”

Veterans at the Quinns Rocks RSL dawn service. Picture: Lisa Wallis
The Anzac Day parade in Wanneroo. Picture: Martin Kennealey
Commemorating Anzac Day at Central Park, Joondalup. Picture: Stewart Allen
Keynote speaker Joondalup City RSL secretary Bruce McDonald. Picture: Stewart Allen
A crowd of about 7000 people gathers at Joondalup’s Central Park for dawn service. Picture: Justin Bianchini

The rising sun has shone through the Smith Sculptors-designed cenotaph in Joondalup’s Central Park in another Anzac Day dawn service.

The City of Joondalup-RSL service again proved one of the biggest in Perth, with Joondalup City RSL secretary Bruce McDonald reminding people of the horrors of war.

“I’ve witnessed the death of innocence and a once-supposed sense of immortality,” the Afghanistan war veteran said.

“I have witnessed a helicopter deliver wounded soldiers from an IED blast where the floor of the helicopter was red with their blood. And the teams of specialist medical staff respond that all was going to be OK.”

Other northern dawn services were held in Wanneroo, North Beach, Ocean Reef, Quinns Rocks, Yanchep and Lancelin.

A commemoration service will follow at RSL Memorial Garden in front of Yanchep Inn at 11am.

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