Anzac Day crowds are expected to be down on last year’s record numbers but high security will be in place for the service at Gallipoli.
The number of Australians making the pilgrimage to Turkey for the Anzac Day dawn service on the North Beach are expected to be lower than last year, reflecting a drop in overall numbers after record attendance in 2015 to mark 100 years since Australian forces landed at Gallipoli.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said travel advice for Turkey remained under close review, but she did not respond directly to reports that authorities in Gallipoli had increased security “tenfold” following specific threats.
A Turkish government official overseeing security on the peninsula said intelligence agencies had received several pieces of information suggesting a planned attack on the Gallipoli peninsula, Seven News reported.
“The overall level of advice for Turkey, including the Gallipoli peninsula, remains at exercise a high degree of caution,” Ms Bishop said in a statement to AAP.
For this year’s Anzac events at Gallipoli extra security checks, similar to international airport screening, will be in place, including restrictions on liquid, aerosol or gel products and inspection of electronic devices.
However, thousands are expected to attend hundreds of events across Australia on Monday – including dawn services, marches, ceremonies and sporting events – a century after the first ever Anzac Day where big crowds across the nation and overseas gathered in 1916 to remember those who fought and died in Gallipoli.
“We’re certainly expecting very large crowds,” Returned and Services League chief executive Sam Jackman told AAP.
“There might not be the numbers we got last year, but we’re still expecting a very good turn out.”
Despite the expected decrease in crowds, Ms Jackman said the importance of the occasion for former servicemen and women should not be downplayed.
“We will never forgot those who served in wartime whichever conflict they served in, whatever age they are,” she said.
“The best thing for veterans’ healing and moving on is to spend time and talk amongst themselves.
“No one really understands what they’ve been through as well as their mates.”
The weather will not keep people away, with mild and sunny conditions expected in all the country’s capitals on Monday except Brisbane and Perth, where it’s likely to be damp.