Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders have stood at the end of their driveways with candles to remember those who defended their country during the annual Anzac Day Dawn Service.  

This year was unlike any other, with all marches cancelled for the first time since World War II and the few remaining services held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Australians did not let the health crisis stop them from paying tribute to the nation’s servicemen and servicewomen and instead marked the day by decorating their front gardens, lighting candles and listening to commemorative services from their balconies, driveways and living rooms. 

Pictured: Two women wearing dressing gowns take part in the Anzac Day Dawn Service out the front of their New Zealand homes early on Saturday morning

Alastair Tomkins and his nine year-old son Hugo play The Last Post in their driveway, at dawn, as neighbours stand outside their homes to commemorate Anzac Day in Brisbane

Sydneysiders join their neighbours on the street to mark Anzac Day early on Saturday morning

Pictured, left: A woman streams the Anzac Day commemerative service in Canberra from her driveway on Saturday morning. The RSL’s Light Up the Dawn campaign asked Australians to stand on their balcony, in their driveway or living room with a torch or candle immediately following the televised Dawn Service

Pictured: Residents of Sydney’s famous Boomerang Mansion at Elizabeth Bay pay their respects at dawn

Australians socially distance as they commemorate Anzac Day at Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast on Saturday

Pictured: Candles line a cul de sac in Sydney on Saturday morning for Anzac Day

The national commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was closed to the public but broadcast to homes across the country from 5.30am on Saturday morning.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered the address and the broadcast concluded with The Ode, The Last Post and a one-minute silence at 6am.

The prime minister drew on the words of his wartime predecessor John Curtin as he gave the address to a crowd-free commemorative service.

‘Here in Canberra, on this day, 75 years ago and the midst of war, our then Prime Minister John Curtin, called for every citizen to give equal measure of devotion, what our servicemen and women give every day,’ he said.

‘He reminded Australia that the original Anzacs handed on a torch, clenched and carried high, and that is passed on to every generation of Australians.

‘This Anzac Day, it’s been passed to us. And so together, with faith in each other, and guided by the lives and examples of those who’ve gone before, we grasp that torch and we raise it high again lighting up the Anzac dawn. Lest we forget.’ 

Pictured: A general view of the empty ANZAC cemetery at the ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula during sunset, in Canakkale, Turkey, on April 24 2020

A couple embrace as they stand on the sand of Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast to commemorate Anzac Day

Australians were urged to share their Anzac Day commemorations to social media to mark the annual services

Collie Street in Manurewa, Auckland, is decorated for ANZAC Day with an Australian and New Zealand flag

Pictured left to right: Vietnam veteran Rod Coote, son Nathan and wife Julie observe a live stream of ANZAC day’s dawn service outside their house in Melbourne

Mr Morrison delivered his speech alongside the roll of honour, which marks the names of 102,000 men and women who have died in service.

‘Through these 102,000 men and women, and the millions more who’ve worn our nation’s uniform, we come to understand what love of family, community and country truly means,’ Mr Morrison said.

He also paid tribute to his grandfather Gunner Leslie John (Sandy) Smith, who served Australia in Sir Roden Cutler VC’s 2nd 5th Field Regiment as part of the AIF’s 7th Division in WWII.  

One of those whose family member is named on the honour roll is retired Wing Commander and service nurse, Sharon Bown, whose great-uncle Private Albert Arthur Reader landed at Gallipoli 105 years ago.

She told the service all Australians had the opportunity to cast themselves in the image of those who served.

‘Let us do more than just honour those who have defended Australia,’ she said.

‘In this time of crisis, let us realise the innate capacity within each of us … to unite and to protect the more vulnerable among us.

Australians commemorate Anzac Day from their driveways at dawn on Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast

Pictured: People gather at Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast. The traditional Anzac Service at Currumbin which usually attracts around 20,000 people but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic

‘To realise that the qualities for which we honour the Anzacs live on in each of us – endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, mateship and devotion, to duty to each other, to Australia.’

A didgeridoo sounded the beginning of the national commemorative service.

Marches have been cancelled for only the third time – the last time in 1942 and previously during the devastating Spanish flu outbreak.

Broadcast coverage of services in other cities followed. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Governor Margaret Beazley, RSL NSW acting president Ray James, a bugler and a vocalist will take part in the 30-minute service from Sydney’s Anzac memorial in Hyde Park and the Cenotaph in Martin Place, which will be televised at 10am.

The RSL’s Light Up the Dawn campaign asked Australians to stand on their balcony, in their driveway or living room with a torch or candle immediately following the televised Dawn Service and share tributes on social media. 

Three people commemorate Anzac Day by standing on the side of the road in Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (centre) stands at dawn on the driveway of Premier House with her father Ross Ardern (left) and partner Clarke Gayford (right)

Members of the public stand outside the Auckland museum at dawn to commemorate ANZAC day on April 25 in New Zealand

New Zealand’s leaders rose at dawn on Anzac Day, defying the national lockdown to recognise past sacrifices and understand the country’s war-woven threads.

For the first time since the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, there was no formal service in New Zealand.

Instead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was one of many thousands of Kiwis who spent at least a minute of their mornings in contemplation by their letterbox.

Ms Ardern has relocated her family to Wellington for the duration of the lockdown, and left the official residence at Premier House just prior to the national recognition at 6am.

She also issued a message, addressing both the unique nature of the 2020 commemoration and the ways that war have shaped her modern nation.

‘While we cannot gather in person, we join in spirit as we remember the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders in times of war and crisis,’ she said.

‘Many New Zealanders have been affected by war or know somebody who has.

‘Returned and current service personnel, friends and families of the fallen, New Zealanders who have come to start a new life here as refugees – through Anzac Day we are all connected.’

Pictured: People gather to commemorate Anzac Day at dawn on Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast

Braxton Jones of the 1/15th RNSW Lancers plays The Last Post on trumpet at the Breakfast Point Country Club in Sydney


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