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Monday, November 24th 2014

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Anzac Centenary Tour

Anzac Centenary Tour

On 31 October four teachers and eighteen students travelled to Albany to commemorate the Centenary of the Departure of troops from Albany. We arrived with just enough time to pitch our tents before making our way to the harbour where we witnessed the Royal Australian Navy Sunset Ceremony and the firing of the cannon at the precise moment that the sun slipped into the ocean. We also warched a light show of images which were projected onto the buildings around Princess Royal Harbour, setting the atmosphere of respect and remembrance that would be enjoyed by thousands of young and old over the next couple of days.

On Saturday 1 November, we stationed ourselves in a safe, central position on the main street where we watched the Troop March. We then had an opportunity to read the beautiful handmade postcards sent between six soldiers who served in the war and a home nurse before being brought back to the present with the laying of the wreaths in a Commemorative Service at Anzac Peace Park. Then it was time to cross the city to Middleton Beach where naval ships departed King George Sound in a symbolic formation that echoed the departure of the first convoy. 30 000 poppies had been placed on the sand to represent the number of troops that left Albany in that first convoy. This emotional day was topped off with a Community Concert that featured the Waifs, Dan Sultan, Katie Noonan, the Royal Australian Navy band and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
All too soon, it seemed, we were preparing to leave, however there was one last treat. We were amongst the first visitors to visit the new National Anzac Centre, where each student was able to follow the journey of a particular soldier through World War I. With the latest digital technology and interactive apps, their stories sprang to life before our eyes. We returned to Perth with the knowledge that we, too, had become part of Albany’s history and with a greater appreciation of the way that history is simply part of a continuum to which we relate in the most unexpected ways, however different a past time may seem.
Click pdfhere to read some of the students' reflections, drawing links between the past and the present. Enjoy too, the video produced by John Ogilvie.
Alistair McNeil’s sharing of the stories’ of his grandfathers’ roles in World War II encouraged the students to think of their own family connections. If you have any connections to World War I we would love you to share your family’s story with us as we prepare to Commemorate the Centenary of Gallipoli in 1915.
Thanks must go to Meredith Roe for organising the trip, to Alistair McNeil and James Moore for giving up their time to accompany the group, to the students for their enthusiasm to learn and for their respectful attitude towards the occasion and to the City of Albany for providing us with such a moving experience.
Cath Bagg, Acting Head of Humanities
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