THE ever-popular Austinmer beach ANZAC Day dawn service has been cancelled as the northern suburbs’ RSL sub-branches grapple with a scaled-back commemoration this year.
Reduced crowds are expected to gather at various commemoration services and events in the northern suburbs on Sunday, April 25, to remember those who lost their lives in service to their country, with traffic diversions and road closures in place.
Anzac Day 2021 will be scaled-back, with authorities reminding those attending services to do so in a COVID-safe way.
Dawn services are planned for Helensburgh, Coledale, Thirroul, Woonona and Corrimal, with RSL sub-branches limiting numbers and asking for residents to register prior to the event.
Austinmer-Thirroul RSL Sub Branch Vice President, Will Lee said the service at the Austinmer beach cenotaph has in the past attracted crowds of up to 1500 people.
“We did try and come up with a plan to enable the Austinmer service to go ahead, but with Covid restrictions in place, it was impossible,” Mr Lee said.
“It was just too difficult to control crowds. We had to cancel dawn services at both the Thirroul and Austinmer cenotaphs as a result.”
Mr Lee said Club Thirroul offered to allow a combined ticketed service, starting at 6am on its bowling greens, which will enable up to 600 people to attend. Tickets are free and available from reception at Club Thirroul.
The Woonona Bulli RSL Sub branch have also scaled-back it annual service, with numbers restricted to 300 people.
Police have been working with NSW Health, Returned Services League (RSL) NSW and Wollongong City Council to facilitate Anzac Day events in line with current Public Health Orders, including marches and dawn services.
While events will be on a smaller scale due to COVID-19 restrictions, a highly visible and mobile police operation will be in place to ensure COVID-safe Anzac Day commemorations across the state.
The following services will be held in the northern suburbs:
Helensburgh: A 5.45am service in Charles Harper Memorial Park, with breakfast later at Helensburgh Hotel.
Coledale: A 5.50am march from Coledale RSL, followed by a 6am service. Limited seating is available.
Austinmer and Thirroul: Combined ticketed dawn service at Club Thirroul (Old Thirroul Bowling Club) from 6am. Email: Austinmer-ThirroulSB@rslnsw.org.au or call: 0411 545 843. The Dawn Service is a ticketed event. Tickets are available from Club Thirroul free of charge. The Club will open at 5.30am and those attending are advised to arrive early as there is a requirement to be checked in. Seating is available at the club. All Covid protocols will be strictly enforced. Breakfast will be available at the conclusion of the Service for $10.
Woonona: Woonona Bulli RSL Service at 7am, limited to 300 people. Members of the public are asked to email or phone the sub-branch to check if seats are available. Email: Woonona-BulliSB@rslnsw.org.au or call: 0438 610 655
Corrimal: Assemble outside Corrimal RSL at 5.30am for march to Anzac Grove, Railway Street. A 6am service will be held at the cenotaph, followed by a 7am breakfast at Corrimal RSL Club (tickets available at club). Email: CorrimalSB@rslnsw.org.au or call: 0408560554
Towradgi: A service will be held at Towradgi Park Bowls & Recreation Club from 8am, followed by breakfast.
Wollongong: The Illawarra Anzac Day March, involving eight local sub-branches and other contingents, will follow the standard route from 10am through the CBD: form up in Crown Street Mall, then into Kembla Street, Burelli Street and Church Street – passing the cenotaph. Contingents will break-off in McCabe Park.
Wollongong: Vietnam Veterans Association – Illawarra Sub-Branch will host their ANZAC Eve Service on Saturday, April 24 at 4pm. The service will be held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Endeavour Drive, Wollongong Harbour. All are welcome, subject to COVID-19 rules in place at the time.
NSW Police Operation Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Rohan Cramsie, is reminding the community to be extra respectful on Sunday and adhere to restrictions.
“While it is great that we can commemorate Anzac Day once more, the day will look a little different this year,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Cramsie said.
“Be aware that some events may have seating or spacing requirements or are open to ticket-holders only.
“Consider attending a local service, staying at home to ‘light up the dawn’ like we did last year, or watch the broadcast of the dawn service and the march on TV. If you do choose to travel to the Sydney CBD, follow all COVID-safety measures and instructions from event organisers.”
Police across the state will also be targeting anti-social behaviour and will not tolerate dangerous, criminal, offensive or violent acts.
“Police are not here to ruin anyone’s day; however, our first priority is always the safety of the wider community. Anyone found to be ruining the day for others will be detected and dealt with swiftly,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Cramsie said.
“Remember the reasons for commemorating this day and honour the true Anzac spirit – look out for your mates and celebrate in a safe and respectful way.”
For information on current Public Health Orders, please refer to www.nsw.gov.au. This includes full details including maximum number of guests permitted within your region. Continue to monitor this site as restrictions and guidance may change.
For information about Anzac Day events in your local area, visit the RSL NSW website.
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