Rain doesn’t stop WA Anzac spirit shining

The Anzac spirit was forged at Gallipoli where it seemed to rain bullets on the brave troops, so the least the people of Perth could do was endure some rain at the annual parade.


Some youngsters, like four-year-old Madison, had to perch on their father’s shoulders to get a view of the parade over the sea of umbrellas, but their grins showed they were not worried about the downpour.

Madison’s father told AAP: “Anzac Day celebrates all the services – it is the day for them when they don’t have to worry about what they do every other day.”

The rain poured steadily for about half an hour, but it did not deter the estimated crowd of 30,000 or about 6500 people who participated, including veterans from East Timor who were invited by RSL WA president Graham Edwards.

Among the oldest participants were 106-year-old Eric Roediger, who was a prisoner of war and worked on the Burma-Thailand Railway, and 102-year-old Anne Leach, who was a WWII nurse.

Maureen Hepburn proudly watched her 86-year-old husband Colin in the parade, as she does every year.

“It’s wonderful to remember people who have served after all this time,” she told AAP.

Mr Hepburn fought in the Korean war and kept his grandson and 10-year-old great-grandson by his side during the parade.

Earlier, about 40,000 people gathered at Kings Park for the dawn service, and although numbers were down on last year’s centenary record of 70,000 people, there were still some who camped overnight to get the best spots.

The rain conveniently held back as Wing Commander Peter Kershaw commented that ordinary strangers were united by the actions of extraordinary strangers who fought, bled and forged their way into Australian folklore 101 years ago.

“The way our Anzacs bore the brunt of the fight at Gallipoli stirred in Australians everywhere a new feeling of camaraderie, a feeling that matched the way in which the rest of the world began to look at Australia as a nation of formidable character,” he said.

“From the grinding hardships and terrible sacrifices of the Gallipoli campaign, through the Middle East, and the horrendous blood-letting of the Western Front, there emerged a distinctly Australian identity.”

That identity recognised the importance of standing by your mates, showing courage during adversity and having the tenacity to get the job done.

Wing Cmdr Kershaw said the ethos developed during WWI sustained and inspired those who continued to wear the Australian uniform, but anyone could draw inspiration from the Anzac story regardless of race, religion or creed.

Among the guests were Premier Colin Barnett, Governor Kerry Sanderson, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and former East Timor leader Xanana Gusmao.

More than 110 dawn services were held around Western Australia, including 1000 people at the fire-ravaged town of Yarloop, where two men died and 181 properties were destroyed in January.