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Albany Anzacs

Thursday, April 24, 2008
As Anzac Day dawns, it is appropriate to remember that 94 years ago off the shores of Albany in Western Australia, 30,000 young Australians and New Zealanders set out on what arguably became Australia's most traumatic and defining experience.

In 1914, boys from every corner of Australia heard the call and the sleepy little port of Albany was on the verge on one our greatest sagas.

Even though Europe is thousands of kilometres away, the outbreak of war was treated with great enthusiasm. Our fifth prime minister, Andrew Fisher, declared Australia would back Britain ''to the last man and last shilling''.

To the many young men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp, it gave the opportunity to travel the globe and be paid handsomely. Far too many of them never returned to talk about their adventure.

Ten thousand NZ men in 10 ships joined 27 Australian troop carriers carrying 20,000 men and around 8000 horses. Only at Albany were all these ships seen together, the largest fleet ever assembled in the Southern Hemisphere. The massive King George Sound's Princess Royal Harbour was the perfect mustering point for the convoy.

The allies set out to capture Istanbul — then known as Constantinople — and landed at Gallipoli on April 25. They met fierce resistance from the Turks and what was meant to be a quick fight dragged on for nine months with the loss of more than 8000 Australian soldiers.

Albany has never forgotten the sacrifices made, and on a high hill overlooking its elegant colonial architecture, the first Anzac commemoration ceremony was held in 1918. It is a proud tradition celebrated in every city and town throughout Australia and New Zealand.

That day military chaplain Arthur White, who was on leave in Albany, held a service at dawn. At the end of it, the congregation walked to the top of Mount Clarence and laid a wreath. When he returned to Albany in 1930, he was asked to repeat the service.

The Princess Royal Battery provides an insight into the site and Australian military history generally. One of the country's best outdoor military museums, it has restored shore batteries, armouries, barracks, the 10th Light Horse display, trails and a collection of naval guns and torpedos. It is also home to the South-East Asia Memorial, US Submariners Memorial and Merchant Navy Memorial.

At the peak of Mount Clarence is a massive bronze of a horse rampant and Anzac rider. Originally erected in Port Said, it was relocated to Albany and is the Anzac Light Horse Memorial to the Gallipoli warriors. The statue's base bears bullet marks from the Suez crisis.

The local library is crammed with interesting information on the history of Albany and there is much to see about our brave Anzacs.


Albany on Western Australia's south coast


Princess Royal Fortress opens between 9am-5pm every day. Entry is $5.20 for adults, $1.10 for children (aged 11-16), $3.10 for pensioners and $12 for families. Tours and barbecue facilities may be booked. Call between 9am-5pm.

For further information

The Albany History Collection
Albany Public Library
City of Albany
221 York Street
Albany 6332
Ph: (08) 9841 9390
Fax: (08) 9841 9326

Albany Visitor Centre
Ph: (08) 9841 9290
Fax: (08) 9842 1490

Princess Royal Fortress

Ph: (08) 9841 9333

User comments
Jules - what a moving, informative, class act your story was! You gave me goose-bumps! Thank you for giving a contempory but still respectful approach to a truely Australian story!
and with the going down of the sun, we will remember. Long live the ANZAC spirit.
Jules. I just watched your story about the Albany connection in regard to the Anzac's and thought you presented it very well. It was very informative, but above all you came across displaying the respect that it deserved. Well done.

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