With Anzac Day almost upon us, the plan was for a morning outing with a relaxed afternoon. The transformation of the peninsula is complete – there are buses full of Turks, Aussies and Kiwis everywhere, at every road intersection there are police and soldiers, barricades and bunting abound. We ventured forth to Chanuk Bair in order to walk from there, down Rhododendron Ridge, to the shore. Our bus got most of the way along the frontline road, then a bus jam convinced us that getting out and walking was the best method. There must be hundreds of buses on the peninsula today.
It was great to leave the crowds behind and walk down the ridge, which provided spectacular views up to Suvla, across the rugged hills and down to the sea. The path follows ridge lines and winds its way through steep country. We were basically following the path that the New Zealanders took to reach the heights in the August Offensive. We made it down the shore and along to Embarkation Pier Cemetery, to look at the grave of J Facey, brother of Albert Facey, the author of ‘A Fortunate Life’.
With the Dawn Service site closed, we headed north to take the long way round back to the hotel. A brief stop in the little village of Bigali gave us the chance to look in the house that Mustafa Kemal stayed in briefly before the Gallipoli Campaign started. It was also a chance to site in the sunshine at the local cafe and enjoy Turkish coffee and apple tea. We then managed to run the gauntlet of various security checkpoints and make it back to the hotel for lunch.
Emboldened by the sunny weather, we decided it was now or never for a dip in the Aegean. Not all students took up the challenge, but those who did dashed in for a swim and learnt the true meaning of cold water. It was an impressive display of bravery and recommendations have been made for awarding a Victoria Crisp to all who took part in the action.