Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ANZAC Spirit is strong on Fraser Island

As the first glimmers of the sun rise over the ocean, waves lap onto the shore, a pre-dawn chill hangs in the air. Locals, visitors, rangers and emergency servicemen and women gather at Waddy Point to pay their respects to those that fought and sacrificed their lives in the line of duty at a special ANZAC service.

Dawn service at Waddy Point
Copyright: Eurong Beach Resort
The ANZAC spirit is strong on Fraser Island and each year people gather near the beachside campground for what has become an annual tradition officiated by members of the Orchid Beach RSL, a sub-branch of the Wide Bay Burnett District.

One of the local organisers John Quincy said the first service 25 years ago, attracted a crowd of about 20 people. Last year saw record numbers of approximately 600 people attend the beachside service.

“It’s a big logistical effort, when you take into account our remote location,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people that help out and a lot of work that goes into the day.

“We are seeing more young people each year, which is very encouraging.”

Following the dawn service at Waddy Point, organisers cook up a hot breakfast and hold traditional games of Two-Up throughout the day- a $20 donation covers costs of breakfast, local fish and chips and sandwiches  throughout the day.

 Fraser Island’s beaches are also one of the best vantage points to see the RAAF annual ANZAC Day fly-over.

While Fraser Island is most well-known for its incredible natural beauty, the World Heritage-listed Island also has a unique place in Australia’s military history.

Each year tourists flock from all over the world to visit the famous Maheno shipwreck, which ran aground on Fraser Island’s Seventy Five Mile Beach during a cyclone in 1935.

Built in Scotland in 1904, the 5323 tonne ship was initially used as a passenger ship which sailed between Australia and New Zealand.

Wreck of the SS Maheno on Fraser Island
Copyright: Eurong Beach Resort 
In 1915, the SS Maheno converted to a hospital ship was used for the next five years in treating and transporting Allied wounded from Gallipoli and the Western Front as part of the First World War effort.

The Maheno played a role in transporting Allied troops from Gallipoli to safer facilities and brought wounded soldiers back to Australia and New Zealand.
Marking its centenary last year, hundreds of people travelled from as far away as New Zealand to Fraser Island’s Eastern Beach to lay flowers and remember the fallen in a special service held at the site where the Maheno now sits.

For those looking to take advantage of the long weekend to explore Fraser Island and attend ANZAC Day services, Eurong Beach Resort is an excellent base with direct access on to Seventy-Five Mile Beach, as well as the island’s many freshwater lakes and walking tracks.


So if you’re looking for a truly unique, traditional ANZAC weekend experience, mark the date and make tracks to Fraser Island. 

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