ANZAC Day is all about honouring tradition, but in Warrnambool there will be a break in local tradition with the annual mid-morning street march.
No longer will it stop at the entertainment centre for official speeches and ceremony. Instead defence veterans, families and community groups will march directly from Lava Street to the war memorial.
It’s a decision local Returned Services League leaders believe is appropriate in the lead-up to next year’s Gallipoli centenary and the 2016 RSL centenary.
“We think the change will increase participation,” said RSL sub-branch president John Miles.
“When the march stopped at the entertainment centre for speeches and later resumed for the war memorial segment some people did not stay for the duration.
“This year we are aiming to have post-1975 veterans lead the march and would be keen to hear from any who wish to participate.
“We will also have the State Emergency Service as crowd marshals and have a marquee near the RSL for veterans.”
The day’s events will start at 5.45am with a short march from the Civic Green to the war memorial for a 6am dawn service with prayers, the ode, Last Post rendition, a minute’s silence, national anthems and wreath laying.
It will be followed by a “gunfire breakfast” at the RSL.
Then at 8.30am there will be a guided tour of the Warrnambool cemetery featuring graves of First World War Diggers.
The main march down Liebig Street will leave Lava Street at 10.45am. As it goes past the Timor Street intersection official dignitaries will take a salute from formation leaders.
Marchers are expected to reach the cenotaph by 11am for a service featuring the Anzac Requiem, music and readings by school students, national anthems and wreath laying.
It is expected to finish by 12.30pm.
Mr Miles said the aim of Anzac Day activities was to give participating veterans and the general public an opportunity to honour those who served in defence of Australia and its interests, especially those who paid the extreme sacrifice or suffered as a result of their service.
“The commemoration march is not a military parade,” he said.
“All marchers should conform to forming up and marching four abreast unless otherwise advised by an official.
“Attire should be neat and tidy out of respect for the fallen.
“Next of kin are to wear medals on the right breast.”
Mr Miles said anyone eligible to be a member of the RSL could participate along with next of kin and school groups.
Support vehicles will be supplied for veterans unable to march.