Anzac Day memorial to veterans
History & Traditions

The Spirit Lives On

Early this morning, April 25, more people than usual were up early. What’s more, they were all walking past my house. Where were they going?

If April 25 holds any significance for you, I won’t have to tell you.

The Dawn Service – April 25

At the end of my street is a memorial to Australia’s and New Zealand’s fallen soldiers in war, and April 25 is named, Anzac Day, because of them.

When WWI was declared, many young men, fathers, brothers, sons, signed up as soldiers, volunteering to fight with their Allies in Europe. Many of them faked their age so that the armed forces would accept them for duty. The youngest volunteer was James Martin, a mere 14 years and 3 months old.

James Martin, along with my Great Uncle, were amongst the Australian and New Zealand soldiers, who briefly trained for open desert warfare, prior to travelling to the Dardanelles near Turkey, and came to be known as ‘Anzacs.’


‘Anzacs’, because they were the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Anzacs because they fought for 8 months in the hellhole campaign that was steep cliff faces and filthy trenches in a place, known as Gallipoli. 8,141 Australians died at Gallipoli and thousands more were injured. Including my Great Uncle ‘Ted’ – Edward Russell.

Many of Australia’s finest, strongest and youngest men were fatally wounded, including one called James Martin, then just 15 years old.

This was not the worst battle in the war. Many more men died on the battlefields in France. Yet the Anzac ‘diggers’ and this spirit represents a special place in the hearts of Australians. They are the most venerated. Anzac day and its tradition of remembrance of them, becomes more popular each and every year.


We have few real traditions in our country. Perhaps this is the reason we cling to Anzac Day as it binds our nation together as a community?

Perhaps it is the stories of the death of such a young man as James Martin, the loss of such youthful promise, that brings home to each and every one of us, the enduring horror and consequences of war. Such senseless loss.

The following poem and haunting bugle tune never fails to brings tears to my eyes. In the tune, the bugle player summons the troops to assemble; the bugle calls them once, twice, three times, but the fallen soldiers do not come, nor do they answer.

Anzac day commemorates all servicemen and women who served in conflicts, not just those who died. To honour those who paid the supreme sacrifice, we stand in silence, after the reading of the Ode and the Last Post is played.

Anzac biscuits
Anzac biscuits – these were sent to the troops in Gallipoli by family

And what of James Martin’s family, living far away from the battlefields, in Australia? How did they cope without the boy they once held safe, in their arms?

A mother grieving a lost son; a Father who’d never have a beer or teach his son how to fix a broken car; a brother or sister who’d no longer feel the camaraderie between siblings as they grow, a schoolkid who’d lost his mate, and finally the boy himself, who’d never grow old enough, to become a man.

Every armed conflict and terrorist act, hurts more than just nations, soldiers and civilians, but the raw horror and loss cast a long and painful shadow far and wide.

James, like so many other soldiers gave up his tomorrows, so that we could enjoy today.

War is deeply woven into human history. Organized society and conflict appear to have marched side by side, each affecting the other. Wars have changed societies in many ways but changes in society have also affected the nature of war.

Have we yet learned the lesson fighting has for us?

wreath veterans

Lest We Forget

distortion effect

Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom


I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

The proverb, I have chosen to examine, this week is not listed as coming from any particular region of the world so that means it must have universal meaning. Right?

The dog that quits barking can get some sleep.

~ Traditional Proverb

Does it have universal meaning for you? What do you see as its meaning?

Are we always on alert, like the watch dog? Do we lack sleep or restful down time due to our vigilance? If so, vigilance over what, in particular? Jobs, family, children, religious rituals?

What is the proverb warning us about?



In honour of Australia’s  Anzac Day, I have chosen the following quote:

“If I had to take hell.

I would choose the Australians to take it, and the New Zealanders to hold it!”

~ Erwin Rommel

wreath veterans

However, for those for whom Anzac day holds no significance, there is this quote, in the current series from Ancient Greek philosophers:

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.” –Plato

Is seeing reality really perceiving the truth?

The message in Plato’s quote, was discussed, somewhat obliquely in the commentary, with blogger Mabel Kwong, last week. You can find it here if you wish to read the back story.

Please join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Proverbial Friday really giving you Something to Ponder About

Cakes, Community, Food, Motivational

Picky about Pikelets – Anzac Day Traditions

Princess Would it be crass to say that I am the Queen of Pikelets?

Well, I’ve said it, so if I am crass, it is because these Pikelets have won awards for many years at the Royal National Show. Seriously!  If the reactions of others are anything to go by, they really are impressive, well, as much as a pikelet can be, I suppose.  I have always kept my recipe a closely guarded secret, but today being April 25, Anzac Day; a significant, almost sacred national day for Australians and New Zealanders, (that you can read more about here), I’ve decided to spread the love that only an Aussie pikelet can do, and share this recipe with you!!


Pikelets are very definitely entrenched as a home bake favourite in the vernacular Australian and New Zealand cuisine and are much better than the much touted Anzac biscuits, [find that recipe here] -an oh so popular wartime ‘cookie’ that entered Australian and New Zealand folklore as one of our few traditions that are uniquely our own, but today – today it is all about Pikelets!

Meanwhile, some of you are probably thinking: ” Just, what ARE Pikelets?” Right? Continue reading “Picky about Pikelets – Anzac Day Traditions”



It is a national holiday observed in every Aussie town, large and small, it is a day so sacred that merchants once required special permission to open their doors, Anzac day and its memorial services, honoring our soldiers, becomes increasingly popular with every passing year, and this year, the 100th anniversary is, by far, the biggest event yet.   IMG_20150425_055230 (Small)

Together with New Zealand, Australia has few non-indigenous traditions and as such, we have clung on to this one event in our history, and made it a tradition observed by young and old alike. The proud, egalitarian, happy-go-lucky spirit, our friendly ‘larrikinism’, our casual “she’ll be right” Australian attitude is epitomized in the ANZAC forces (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), in WWI.  Anzac memorial services have become a tradition, not because they were a wonderful success, (the original campaign was, in fact, an abject failure, and led to the dismissal of Winston Churchill), but rather because this event has so defined our nation and become entrenched in our psyche and because we, as a nation, need to remember April 25, ANZAC  Day, “Lest We Forget.”

Memorial services are held at dawn, and are attended by millions of  Australians, like me,  across Australia, whether or not they have family members who are military veterans. Why dawn, you might ask? Stand 2, or dawn, is seen by the military, as the best time to launch an offensive strike. Anzac day’s dawn service commemorates the exact time the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand combined Army Corps), forces attacked the Gallipoli peninsula in the Dardenelles, in Turkey in 1915, 100 years ago.

The most moving tribute of all is the laying of the wreaths on the community monument to the sounds of the Last Post. A truly poigant moment….

A few naysayers think  Anzac day is becoming over-commercialised, but I would rather see this, than forget the sacrifice of those young men and indeed their families who lost loved ones; rather see this than forget the lessons learned in the “war to end all wars”, rather see this than have the general public forget the true meaning of Anzac day altogether and instead think of it as just another day off from work. Pondering the lessons learned in quiet remembrance will ultimately fade away in time without the awareness of the meaning behind the holiday, driven mainly by the media, won’t they?

In almost every suburb in the community, there stands a statue with a soldier (known as a digger – presumably because they dug trenches in which to fight), or that of a light horseman. We owe many things and perhaps, even our liberty, to brave young men who without much thought, willingly signed up to fight someone else’s war. In particular, those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, giving all that they had to give: like my 2 Step Great Uncles that gave their life. My Great Uncle Ted was a Gallipoli veteran who survived the campaign and was left with respiratory problems for the rest of his life, from mustard gas inhalation.

The Gallipoli conflict was not one that involved Australia directly, but rather our allies. So it was due to the strong colonial ties that prevailed at this point in our history, and  the fact that Australia was not permitted, by Britain, to have a fully autonomous military force, that we sent our bravest and strongest young men to fight in the war in Europe. Firstly, to protect the Suez Canal, Churchill then wanted to make a quick strike to knock Turkey out of the war, who was allied with Britain’s enemy, Germany. But how wrong can one get? Very wrong, as it turns out…

Gallipoli, the Turkish Anzac campaign, was a much documented disaster, for which Winston Churchill was entirely to blame. He could not have chosen a worse location: landing troops on a beach under a steep cliff atop where Turkish snipers were waiting to pick them off. The allied forces were forced to withdraw * months later long after the first landing. Churchill was later sacked as Prime Minister.

The Australia population was then around 500,000. Australian casualties for the campaign were 26,111, comprising 1007 officers and 25,104 other ranks. Of these, 362 officers and 7779 men (total 8,141) were killed in action, died of wounds or succumbed to disease. These were our bravest and strongest men, our genetic best, and many were not to return or were to return incapacitated in mind or body. For a young nation struggling to find its feet, their loss was devastating.

Even though the name ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) pertained to the original WWI conflict in Gallipoli, the name has become synonymous with military personnel fighting under the Australian and New Zealand flags until they were formerly separated into distinct military forces. And so, the event lives on in our community, with children wearing their father’s medals from conflicts in Vietnam, Korea and Afghanistan, and  younger people wearing their grandfather and great grandfather’s medals, from WWI and WWII, with pride and remembrance.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them…. Uncle Ted and the others…. lest we forget.

More about the history of Anzac day here:

Significance of ANZAC day from Wiki


Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.


Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.[1] The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand.[2] This is a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name.

The Gallipoli campaign

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk). What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied Gallipoli casualties included 21,255 from the UK, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Istanbul and knocking Ottoman Empire out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops’ actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an “Anzac legend” became an important part of the national identity in both countries. This has shaped the way their citizens have viewed both their past and their understanding of the present.

Anzac Day is a national public holiday and is considered one of the most spiritual and solemn days of the year in Australia. Marches by veterans from all past wars, as well as current serving members of the Australian Defence Force and Reserves, with allied veterans as well as the Australian Defence Force Cadets and Australian Air League and supported by members of Scouts Australia, Guides Australia, and other uniformed service groups, are held in cities and towns nationwide. The Anzac Day Parade from each state capital is televised live with commentary. These events are generally followed by social gatherings of veterans, hosted either in a public house or in an RSL Club, often including a traditional Australian gambling game called two-up, which was an extremely popular pastime with ANZAC soldiers. The importance of this tradition is demonstrated by the fact that though most Australian states have laws forbidding gambling outside of designated licensed venues, on Anzac Day it is legal to play “two-up”.

Despite federation being proclaimed in Australia in 1901, many[who?] argue the “national identity” of Australia was largely forged during the violent conflict of World War I,[9][10] and the most iconic event in the war for most Australians was the landing at Gallipoli. Dr. Paul Skrebels of the University of South Australia has noted that Anzac Day has continued to grow in popularity;[11] even the threat of a terrorist attack at the Gallipoli site in 2004[12] did not deter some 15,000 Australians from making the pilgrimage to Turkey to commemorate the fallen ANZAC troops.[13]

Something Sombre to Ponder About

Architecture, Australia, Community, History & Traditions

Anzac Day in Australia

 Anzac day is a celebration of the commitment and sacrifice of the young men and women who served in battles, under the Australian and New Zealand flag, in years past.  As it is a declared public holiday, most of us spend our time making Anzac biscuits, throwing ‘snags’ on the ‘Barbie,’ or even attending a Dawn or Remembrance service, whilst others just chill out.

Land Administration building

Where and when did this tradition start?  Last week, I visited a former workplace of mine which, I was surprised to find, (according to Wikipedia), was significant in the first Anzac day. The Land Administration Building in George Street, Brisbane has, at various times, since its completion in 1905, housed the Queensland Department of Lands, the National Art Gallery, the Executive chambers of the Queensland Parliament, and the State’s Departments of Mapping and Surveying, until the nineties, when it was converted to a five star hotel providing accommodation for the Treasury Casino.

lac6My former workplace for 8 years: my desk sat between these two columns. Once only a window, today steps and a doorway have been sensitively added.  Local materials were used in the construction and this window fronting Queens Park in central Brisbane overlooks a somewhat glum statue of Queen Victoria. [Some years ago, Queens Park enjoyed some less than salubrious residents, being as it was, a haunt of the aged, homeless folk of the inner Brisbane.] There was no sign of them this day.


The exterior of the building, along with the front of the neighbouring Treasury, features architectural features from construction methods of the past, such as banded rustication, Ionic colonnades, balconies and sculptured facades. The lift, (yes, there was one!), had walls that comprised a fancy metal cage, a bit like you see in old French movies and it operated at a snail’s pace, in fact, the snails would probably beat you to the second floor.



Air conditioning is almost a pre-requisite in the harsh Queensland summer, but during the time I worked there, the high ceilings, thick sandstone/freestone walls, marble floors, and wide stairwells  meant the building was actually very well ventilated, naturally cool and surprisingly comfortable. I recall the government did provide their employees with a ‘government issue’ towel, presumably for mopping one’s brow if the stress of the workplace got too much! 😛


The entrance vestibule, at the rear door, features stained glass windows with allegorical depictions of the backbone of the state’s economy: ie. mining and agriculture. [and the kangaroo makes a cameo appearance!) Furthermore, each room contained one or two large wooden mantlepieces constructed  from more of the state’s natural assets:  timbers such as maple, cedar, silky oak and black bean.


One of my co-workers at the time, wrote a book about the building’s construction by the main contractor, Arthur Midson, who just happened to be the author’s grandfather. But the building is personally significant, for me, as I met my life partner there, and next week we will visit this building again to eat in a restaurant, located in the very same room in which we both worked!


But getting back to Anzac day: Wiki tells us this: “Of particular importance is a marble tablet set into the wall of the George Street entrance inscribed with the message sent by King George V to the people of Australia on 25 April 1916, establishing the Anzac Day tradition.” 

Lest We Forget - Anzac Day in Brisbane

I often noticed this particular stone/ marble tablet, but was completely oblivious to its significance to Anzac day until today.  Lest we Forget.


Something to Ponder About on Anzac day.