Today is a very important day in Australia~it is ANZAC Day, the day when Aussies remember the service men and women who lost their lives in service to their country. ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, who originally were active participants in the battle at Gallipoli in WW 1. 10’s of thousands of Aussies and New Zealanders lost their lives in WW 1.
On ANZAC Day, the day starts at dawn with a memorial service. We got up at 5 AM, walked about 1.8 miles to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance. Our first impression of this day was the huge number of people out walking towards the Shrine at that time. Sidewalks on both sides of the roads to the Shrine were full of people. As we got closer, more large busses than I could count were dropping off more people. The grassy area in front of the Shrine was filled with people of all ages, the news is reporting 45,000 in attendance. We stood quite a distance from the Shrine, but we could see a bit and hear the whole ceremony. For 45 minutes, this huge crowd was silent as the ceremony unfolded. No one was on their cell phone, there were no whispered conversations. Three different bands and 2 choirs provided beautiful music and several service people spoke. The poem, In Flanders Fields was read. It was an amazing and impressive ceremony, all as the sky turned pinky-orange as the sun came up. This solemn occassion was treated with the respect it deserved. After the ceremony ended, anyone who chose, could enter the Shrine and place a poppy in the sanctuary. A sea of poppy-holders filled the Shrine’s steps, the young and the old, families and singles. Again, a very impressive scene.
Jim and I will never forget the ceremony or being part of this crowd, which supposedly is the largest to ever attend the ANZAC Day ceremony here in Melbourne. We were honored to be there.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, most of Melbourne heads out for breakfast! We had to walk over 2 miles to find a restaurant that had room for us!
We returned to our apartment where Jim did some work and I did some knitting.
This afternoon we rode our bikes 32 miles around the greater Melbourne area. We started by riding towards the city along the Yarra River. We stopped to watch the ANZAC Day March (parade) and then rode on, slowly, through the trail along the river where Melbourners were out enjoying their day off. The restaurants along the river were overflowing. There was also a big ANZAC Day footy match (Australian Rules Football), played at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, so we biked past many fans for the two teams. We later heard that there were 93,000 fans at the game~it felt like we had to ride through most of them!! Once away from the crowds were enjoyed the wonderful bike trails throughout the city. There were many unique-styled bridges over the Yarra River just for bikers and walkers! I think we will have to do a bike ride just zig-zagging across the Yarra using these wonderful bridges! We even came across a punt (small boat) that ferries bikers across the Yarra River to a bike trail on the other side!
We ended up riding lots of miles right along the beaches of the Port Phillip Bay. Most of the time we were riding on a bike trail that was just for bikes, no walkers or runners! It was great! We stopped for a light lunch and to “raise a glass” at a restaurant a few miles from home.
Happy 90th Birthday to Jim’s Mom! Woo-Hoo, 90 years young!
We’re heading out for dinner soon. Not sure where we are going to eat because we don’t have a “booking” (reservation) anywhere!