At the Airlie march
Whitsunday Christian College and Cannonvale State School.
Wreaths were laid by numerous school students and members of the community, as well as by councillors Jan Clifford and Ron Petterson, Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, and guest speaker Major William Norton (retired).
Retired warrant officer and Airlie Beach/ Whitsunday RSL vice-president Bill Rose said he was impressed with the Anzac spirit embraced by the Whitsunday community.
“It’s getting to be so massive. When we are out here looking out at the water and the wreaths, this is a beautiful sight,” he said.
“The crowds are growing beautifully, especially with the children.”
Mr Rose said waking up early in the morning to attend the dawn service was always special, with the atmosphere capturing the emotion of Anzac Day.
“It’s more solemn and respectful,” he said.
Major Will Norton said the significance of the Anzac story 102 years on continued to shine through in the Whitsundays and Australia more broadly.
“Anzac Day is not a celebration of victory, or of defeat, or of war itself,” he said. “For Australia, what made April 25 and Gallipoli different from previous military endeavours such as the Maori Wars, Sudan and the Boer War was that it was the first major war we fought as a nation.”
Major Norton added that while the conflicts of the First and Second World Wars were significant times in history, it was important to remember the Australians involved in other military operations in more recent times.
“(On Anzac Day) we remind ourselves that Australians have been involved almost continuously in military operations and peacekeeping since World War II,” he said.
“Conflicts and operations in places like Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Somalia, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria should rightly resonate with us on this day of remembrance.”
The Anzac march began at 8.45am from the Broadwater Avenue carpark and extended through Airlie Beach Main Street, concluding along the Airlie Beach foreshore for the service.
Anzac traditions continued throughout the day, with two-up played at the Reef Gateway Hotel from 1.30pm and Acca Dacca rocking it out for the crowd from 4pm.
Despite difficulties faced from Cyclone Debbie, record attendance was recorded at the dawn service, with between 3000–3500 people estimated to have paid their respects at Cannonvale Beach.
RECORD GATHERING: A Navy Cadet attends the Cannonvale Anzac Day Dawn Service.