THIRTEEN Warrnambool students will join war veterans at Gallipoli next year to take part in the Anzac Day centenary period commemorations of the historic campaign.
The secondary students from Warrnambool College, King’s College, Brauer College and Emmanuel College will join members from the Warrnambool RSL sub-branch in retracing the steps made by Warrnambool and district’s forefathers on the famed Turkish battlefields.
The students, aged between 16 and 18, will tour historic sites during a 17-day tour of Turkey and the Gallipoli peninsula in April and attend Anzac Day dawn and Lone Pine services.
Warrnambool RSL sub-branch secretary Alex Gannaway said the visit to Gallipoli with local students would be a first for the RSL branch and allow different generations to come together for an integral part of Australia’s history.
“For the students and some of the adults it certainly is a once in a lifetime experience,” Mr Gannaway said.
“I joined Warrnambool College for a tour of the Somme in 2011 and I know how that had an effect, particularly on students, there’s no doubt.”
Mr Gannaway said the official Anzac Day centenary period was from 2014-2018, with the 100th anniversary of the actual landing in 2015. He said students had been through an extensive selection process, including an interview panel with representatives from the RSL, Legacy and Rotary.
The trip was initiated by the Friends of Gallipoli, a not-for-profit organisation that hosts learning programs and youth tours to allow young people to understand their connection to Gallipoli and surrounds.
It has been jointly funded by the Warrnambool RSL, Rotary Clubs of Warrnambool and Warrnambool Legacy.
The students last night met with Premier and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine and the Turkish consul-general Mehmet Apak at the Warrnambool RSL for a briefing on the trip.
Dr Napthine said the students would explore Warrnambool’s strong connection to the Gallipoli campaign.
“One student has already traced a great uncle who was a Light Horseman,” Dr Napthine said.
“He was killed in Gallipoli and is at an unknown burial site. This student plans to attempt to trace his resting place.” The students plan to share stories of their travel with local service clubs and groups on their return, Dr Napthine said.
Meanwhile, the federal government has opened the ballot for the 2015 Gallipoli commemorations.
There are 10,500 places available, 8000 of which will be available for Australians, 2000 for New Zealanders and up to 500 for official representatives of all the countries that served at Gallipoli. The ballot closes January 31, 2014.