Monday, 25 April 2011


For the first time in many years, I did not cook an Easter dinner. My daughter and I decided it would be a good idea to go for a ferry ride, and Easter Sunday seemed a good day for it. We  travelled by the local ferry to Circular Quay. The ferry staff on board warned us that because on Sundays there is an all day fare to anywhere and everywhere for only $2.50, huge crowds take advantage of it, and that there were hundreds of people planning (as we were) to go to Manly. And so it proved to be.

We wasted some time by buying ourselves some gelato, raspberry for me, strawberry for my daughter and Mango for my granddaughter, but nonetheless managed to get onto the next ferry. It was a a lovely trip, and everyone was most obliging and friendly. We were part of a massive (mostly foreign) tourist expedition, intent on going to Manly, one of Sydney's famous beaches.

You might think that sensible people, when planning to go to such a famous beach (we are assured that this is so)  would think about taking a towel and swimming costumes. We did not, probably thinking that it was not warm enough to swim. We had reckoned without the boundless enthusiasm of an almost six year old girl, who stripped to her undies, fortunately before wetting all her clothes, and then splashed around with similarly minded children, while we sat on the beach, soaked up the ambience, fresh air, chucked stale crusts to the rapacious and agile seagulls, and enjoyed the sunshine. It is an ocean beach, but yesterday the only waves were those generated by the littlies. We managed to get onto the returning ferry, packed like the proverbial sardines, and then missed the ferry back to our area by a whole minute, and had to take a bus instead.

Today was Anzac Day, which coincided with the public holiday of Easter Monday. Thus  tomorrow is another public holiday. It rained overnight. We wondered what to do today, to entertain the child, and then decided we would go to the Art Gallery. This was a classic example of Not Thinking Things Through. The bus we caught goes to the Art Gallery. Not today, however, at the time we chose to travel. We coincided with the Anzac Day March, which goes all the way along a main city thoroughfare, George Street. It was not possible to cross George Street or to reach the Art Gallery. So we stayed and watched the Anzac Day March. This is something I had never done before. Years ago I had gone to the Dawn Service in Canberra, as my choir was singing the National Anthem. I am not at all militaristic, and have had little sympathy for commemorations or celebrations of war. I find it appalling that world leaders have been so willing to unleash mass slaughter and suffering on their own populations and on those of other countries, and think very many - although by no means all - of the wars which have been fought over the centuries cannot be justified.

Although my father was in the Navy, and fought in the Second World War, around Papua New Guinea, he never really talked about his experiences during the war. We knew he had been in the Naval Intelligence service, under General MacArthur, until he asked to go into active service, during which he was wounded, and had been washed overboard, lost his glasses, which he had to replace at his own expense, out of his far from lavish naval pay. I remember him in uniform, and there being a gun in the house for some time, but he did not talk about it to us children, and I don't remember his ever taking part in Anzac Day remembrances. Maybe we were just too young to take it all in - I was a war baby, after all. Anzac Day was always been notable for the amount of drinking that went on after the March - and this still is a feature. To some extent Anzac Day fell into some disfavour, but then its popularity revived.

My father would have been 100 this year, and there are very few survivors now of the Second World War. My two uncles also served in the Armed Forces, and they too are dead. Even the Vietnam War is a long time ago. My husband did not serve, being an Enemy Alien, and only 15 when the war began.

We found the March very moving: there were so many  different groups participating, and so many old men, and women, and obviously much community involvement in the event. It took a long time, and the crowd was attentive and responsive. We all paid tribute to the men and women of Australia who served their country.

I am glad we were there today.


VioletSky said...

My father was in WWII and was very active in the Legion. He would never miss a Remembrance Day service and paraded with great dignity and pride. I remember going to see it whenI was young, but for the most part we left him to it and it was not a family event. I have always been a pacifist, yet I feel for these old vets who endured so much (and kept most of it to themselves all these decades)

Relatively Retiring said...

Happy Easter, and what sounds like possibly happy new beginnings to a different sort of life.

ChrisB said...

Great to hear you have been out and about having a varied and enjoyable time! It has been very sunny and hot here in the UK for about 10 days more like mid summer than April, so everyone has been dashing to the coast to make the most of it....We spent the weekend in York, very touristy but good fun. x

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lovely weekend. Growing up where I did, Anzac Day marches were community affairs and I was often in the parade either as a Brownie Guide or in my school group. Those experiences left me with a lasting idea of the importance of community at all times, not just in war, and an appreciation of the sacrifice of war. Nonetheless, I am not militaristic either. I think it's vital to commemmorate the losses of the past, but that it is foolish to do so without questioning the validity of war in current times. The rhetoric surrounding Anzac Day is very irritating, as well. Yesterday I heard Eddie McGuire rambling on about Gallipoli being "the birth of the nation" and the reason we can enjoy "the freedoms we have today". Ridiculous, and quite untrue.

Christine said...

I enjoyed your post... and can imagine being crammed together on the Manly Ferry, and the light upon the water of the Harbour. It is good to see another side of life - the ANZAC Day March being one of them. Seems that the ANZAC legend is becoming one of those myths expressing something about national identity.

The Image Is Everything said...

Was lovely weekend, and lovely April. I counted that I have only been home for 6 days in the whole month of April when I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon!