Saturday, 1 November 2014


We are feeling very proud at the moment, for all service men and women who have fought for our country, and Albany this weekend is the site for the 100 year commemoration for the leaving of the troops from Australian soil on 1st November 1914.  Albany was the last place those soldiers saw as they sailed away to WW1.  We are also bursting with pride for Albany itself, the planning for such an occasion has been years in the making, and our town has done itself proud for such a logistically challenging event.  And the weather, wow, it could not be more perfect for the weekend.

The official march and ceremonies are on today, and we are at home watching the fantastic coverage on the ABC.  But people who know us will be amazed to find out that we actually went into Albany last night, with lots and lots of people!  We are not crowd people and normally avoid anything busy like the plague, but we wanted to share in this event and personally experience the effort and work that has gone into it. 

It has been organised so very very well.  We utilised the 'Park and Ride' set up, as many roads in town were closed, parking our car on the outskirts of town and using the buses that have come down from Perth especially for this.  It went like clockwork.  Brilliant.  We walked into the ANZAC Peace Park at the bottom of town, where all around are huge screens and speakers so no matter where you are you can see what is going on.  Loads of historical film and photos and commentary telling stories continued on the screen, plus official events as they are actually happening here.

Crowds gathering at the ANZAC Peace Park, with the Albany Entertainment Centre in the background.  Later that night there were photos and film with story telling projected onto the sides of the building.
We came into town for the Royal Australian Navy Ceremonial Sunset.  Our Albany sunset did not disappoint, it was absolutely perfect.  Perfect.  And even with the huge crowds, we could see the detail of the ceremony on the big screens.  The National Anthem was sung by all with gusto and pride.
 Cadets marching down towards the Peace Park.
Stirling Terrace, a street along the bottom of town, has been a hive of activity all year.  It has been paved and beautified, and over this weekend it has been turned into a massive mess tent and smaller stalls, for people to wander through, soak in the atmosphere, admire memorabilia, and get something to eat.  I did wonder how the many thousands and thousands of visiting people were going to be fed, and I thought the idea of a giant mess tent was terrific.  There was plenty of choice of food, and we lined up for our serve of Albany sardines and chips, marveling in the smooth running of it considering the crowds, and declared our dinner very yummy.
It was great wandering through the stalls, and I loved how a number of people were wearing period costume and uniform, it was very atmospheric. 
 Field surgical kit.

As night fell, York Street, the main street of Albany, lit up, and the myriads of people wandered around taking it all in.  Everybody was cheerful, everything flowed smoothly, it was great.
 Cool street art.
 As we left to head home we were shocked to see the massive queues for the bus back to the Park and Ride, but we needn't have worried, the buses turned up one after the other, and the queue dissolved in ten minutes.  Squished like sardines in the buses didn't dampen anybody's spirits and we all were cheerfully returned to our cars.
It was a good night, we were really glad we made the effort to attend.  After this weekend is over we are looking forward to visiting The National ANZAC Centre, which provides an interpretive experience and sounds fantastic.

Well done Albany.

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