Tag Archives: Anzac parade

Sapphires and poppies

8 May

There are many things we’ve got used to after two and a half years in Australia and one of those is the fact a six or seven-hour drive is no longer considered that long or even unusual. When planning a trip away over the long Easter weekend, we decided to venture south to an area we had not yet visited together: the Sapphire Coast. A mere six plus hours in the car, still in the same state and only broken up a few more times than usual to let a pregnant woman stretch her legs and back!

Stopover in Kiama

Stopover in Kiama

The drive was actually worth it for the scenery alone for once you have hit the Southern Highlands, you are accompanied by rolling green hills, dramatic, sweeping coastline, sun-dappled forests and picturesque dairy farm land.

Rolling hills of the South Coast

Rolling hills of the South Coast

 

After a few wrong turns bouncing along dirt tracks, which would end abruptly at a river or some dense woodland, we got back to the road with the Sat Nav insisting we should, “U-turn when possible” and had our first night with James’ step uncle and his wife, who have a property near Wyndham.

It was lovely to visit them, after last seeing them both nearly three years a go at a party, where, to be honest, I met so many of James’ extended family, that I still struggle to remember who is related to who! Their home is set in several acres of land, which we walked around the following morning. It was distinctly cooler being that little bit further south and it was the first time we had to sit round an open fire in the evening.

The house near Wyndham

The house near Wyndham

Grahame, Andy and James

Grahame, Andy and James

The following days we stayed in a B&B near Tathra and explored the beaches and countryside around the Sapphire coast. It really is a stunning area, more remote than the South Coast closer to Sydney, fringed by long stretches of beach or smaller, bays, bordered by bush and forest. The water, unsurprisingly was a clear sapphire blue and in the middle of the day it was still warm enough to take a dip.

Tathra Beach

Tathra Beach

Bega Kiss Lagoon

Bega Kiss Lagoon

Forests along Sapphire Coast

Forests along Sapphire Coast

One of our favourite spots was Nelsons Beach, accessed by another dirt track with ocean one side and a beautiful lagoon on the other, which was perfect for swimming.

Nelsons Beach

Nelsons Beach

Walking along Nelsons Beach

Walking along Nelsons Beach

Lagoon at Nelsons Beach

Lagoon at Nelsons Beach

We treated ourselves to dinner at Mimosa Wines one night and seeing as we didn’t get to see it in daylight, stopped there again on the drive back up to Sydney. Artisan workshops, galleries and foodie joints seem to be springing up along the tourist drive, which winds along the coast and through national park.

Walks near Tathra

Walks near Tathra

Mimosa Wines

Mimosa Wines

Coffee with a view: Mimosa Wines

Coffee with a view: Mimosa Wines

Quaint shops of Central Tilba

Quaint shops of Central Tilba

It was definitely the breather we both needed and possibly our last chance for a long weekend away even before the baby comes along with James going away a few times before the due date.

It was a big holiday week in Australia that week, with Easter falling late in the year and coinciding with the same week of Anzac Day.

Anzac Day 2014

Anzac Day 2014

For the third year in a row, James got to march in an Anzac parade, this year in Sydney again, and a friend and I went to watch and support on what was a fairly wet and dreary start to the day. Luckily, by the time the rain really came down, James had finished his march and we were safely esconced in the officers’ pub of choice on Anzac Day, The Forbes.

Rain fails to dampen Anzac crowds

Rain fails to dampen Anzac crowds

Marie Bashir, Governor General NSW, applaudes marchers

Marie Bashir, Governor General NSW, applaudes marchers

James on parade

James on parade

Navy on parade: Anzac 2014

Navy on parade: Anzac 2014

Remembering the fallen

Remembering the fallen

After a few drinks there, James was clearly up for some stick, as we headed to the bar where some of his Marine friends were meeting up but ‘Jack’ was welcomed in with just a few derogatory comments!

Comrades!

Comrades!

The Anzac parade is always a spectacle seeing the hundreds of men and women marching together in uniform. It is certainly a moment to feel proud of those who serve and an event that equally shows them, the gratitude and support from the public. Every year since living in Sydney I have been moved at how many people, young and old, turn out for the parade, even in miserable weather. Perhaps a glimmer of the Anzac spirit being demonstrated in honour of those who fell.

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Naval Gazing

26 Apr

Yesterday I was shown Australia can do pomp and ceremony just as well as the English. ANZAC Day commemorates the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli in 1915 – part of the Allied expedition in the First World War. Over 8,000 of their forces died and April 25 became the day to remember the sacrifice they made. Today it goes beyond just the anniversary; it is the day Australians and New Zealanders remember the contribution and sacrifice of all their servicemen and women in military operations and they do so with a great deal of pride and patriotism. The day is very similar to Remembrance Day but seems to bear much more relevance to young Australians, continuing to have meaning for their sense of national identity. It was plain to see as crowds of thousands braved the morning chill to wave flags and applaud current and former members of the armed forces and emergency services while bands from local communities, scout groups, schools and universities all joined in the parade. It was a real family event, with young and old turning out to honour the veterans and marching side by side.

James is away in Auckland, so at least is in a country where Anzac Day is recognised and got to experience the national celebration, including the traditional dawn service at 4.30 am. This is usually followed by the parade and breakfast washed down with plenty of beers to soften the blow. I was not up for the dawn service but did decide to head into the city for the Sydney Anzac parade to show my commitment as a Navy wife! I ended up going alone as nobody was too keen to get up before 8am on a national holiday, especially considering it suddenly turned cold for a day (top of 19 degrees – Autumn is definitely here and I am clearly acclimatising.) However, it stayed dry, sunny and crisp so, wearing a coat for the first time since we arrived, I found a place at the start of the marching route to watch the parade. After the most frail of the veterans were driven by in a convoy of taxis, men and women from ships, regiments and squadrons marched by to much clapping and flag-waving. It was quite a moving scene, particularly seeing young Australians marching with photographs of their grandparents and relatives who have died in action.

The other tradition, which has become as much a part of Anzac celebrations as the parade itself, is a game of Two-up in the pub. I met up with a group of friends for some drinks and we went over the road to their local pub to watch Two-up in action. None of us were feeling too flush to gamble away much money. When I left, Matt was $5 down, Nicky $5 up and I sadly left $5 down but decided to cut my losses before I gambled away all our money! Two-up (or should that be five-down) is a very simple game of heads and tails, played by as many people as want to participate. You place a bet by waving your money in the air and yelling whether you want heads or tails and hope someone will match you to bet the opposite.

Then the coin tossing begins. A lot of pressure on the spinner, as they’re known.

Everyone watches for how the coins land and once both land with the same side down, the winning better keeps the money so you end up double or nothing. There are always some happy punters with people sometimes winning hundreds of dollars.

This is definitely the rowdier side of Anzac Day for people getting steadily more drunk and willing to gamble increasing amounts of money. The other thing to note is that technically it is the only day of the year you can legally play the game . Glad I made the most of that one opportunity for the year.

On the subject of Anzac and therefore all things military, I thought, for those of you haven’t heard from James recently, a little update might be appreciated. Currently, they are alongside in Auckland and he is enjoying a slightly more relaxed pace after a very hectic few weeks in the run up to Easter. He was conscious of having to make a good impression and prove himself during this first job at sea and he has certainly worked hard to do that, particularly as he was largely responsible for a big anti-submarine warfare exercise off Western Australia. After weeks of planning, meetings and presentations, the exercise was a huge success and James in particular was singled out for playing a significant role in what was achieved. He said it was a big learning curve for him but a very rewarding experience. It seems he has impressed the bigwigs and managed to establish himself not ‘just another Pom joining the RAN for some sun.’

The other issues, for both of us, have been not knowing what comes next. For a few months now we’ve not known whether James was going to have to do another course after this trip, be sent back to sea and if so, to which ship or whether he’d be staying put or given a shore job. In between these options were several others as well, with other jobs and ships presenting themselves as possibilities. It can be stressful for both of us as you’re never sure whether you’ll be spending time together or whether you have to prepare yourself for months apart again. There was a lot of email to-ing and fro-ing, discussing what was going to be best career-wise, best from a home point of view and for us as a couple. There was also the other (but no less significant) issue of James’ broken knee cap and when that would get fixed! There was the concern that trying to get time off for a knee operation and be unseaworthy so soon after joining the RAN, would not go down well and maybe hinder him and his ambitions to be selected for command of a ship. But it seems James has impressed enough on this last job not to need to do a successive job at sea and finally, we know he has been given a shore posting at Watson, just up the road, which is fantastic news. It gives us both some stability and knowledge that he won’t be disappearing for six months to the Gulf.

Finally, on the subject of the sea, Sydney endured nearly 72 hours of continuous rain last week. When it rains here, it doesn’t do it by halves. Torrential downpours for nearly three days and nights and when it stops, the sun comes out as if nothing ever happened and it’s 25 degrees again. The storm meant the sea was pretty big over the weekend and walking along the coast, south from Bondi, there were some huge waves crashing on to the rocks.

They may be good for surfing – but not so much for Naval officers bobbing about on the ocean in pretty stormy conditions. Fortunately James doesn’t get sea sick but I think he was grateful for some time on dry land in New Zealand. Anzac celebrations were a certainly a good welcome ashore.

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