April 25 1915 (Anzac Day) is a defining day in Australiaís history; it has made us who we are today. Thatís why I chose to do a tour to Gallipoli with Albatross Tours in 2009, which included an Anzac Day Dawn Service at Anzac Cove.
After a few days exploring the stunning city of Istanbul, including a visit to the Blue Mosque, we headed off for the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula to pay our respect to the fallen. It is one of the most eerie locations I have visited and itís impossible to imagine how horrific it must have been for the soldiers during battle but at the same time it was a moving experience to see the beach and the thousands of graves belonging to my fellow countrymen. As we explored the trenches it was amazing to see just how close the enemy lines were. Itís something that I will never forget.
My tour group travelled to the Dawn Service late in the evening before finding space on the beach to settle in for the night. I had pre-registered as a wheelchair user so I was lucky enough to be given a seat in the stands but now I look back on it I would have liked to stay with the other young Aussies I was travelling with.
It is such a strange feeling watching the first light of the morning rise up over the beach knowing what had happened in that exact spot so many years ago. After the dawn service we made the trek up the hill to Lone Pine for the Australian service before making the long trek back to Istanbul and onto the next place to explore. Having said that, there was still time for some personal thought throughout the morning, which has a long lasting effect on everyone.
If I could encourage every Australian to do one thing in their life itís to make the trek to this iconic location. I managed to see people I knew from back home in Geelong I didnít know were even in Europe. For me, Anzac Day in Gallipoli is a must for any Aussie travel bucket list as it has played such an important role in our history.
One of the other great parts of the trip was a visit the ancient city of Troy. Not many of the dawn service tours included a stop here. Troy is a famous location but not one that is very wheelchair accessible; wow was there some steps there! It seemed I was either climbing up steps or rolling down them to explore these ancient ruins but I am extremely glad I have ticked this of my travel list.
If you want anymore tips on Turkey please let me know and as always please keep searching the world for your dream.