Solemn dawn before thousands march through Sydney

Pride, community spirit and a little curiosity have spread through Sydney's centre as tens of thousands took part in or watched the Anzac Day march.

More than 11,000 servicemen and women including veterans with service medals stretching from World War II to Afghanistan marched to the beat of drums and bagpipes.

The crowd's prevailing message was pride, from family members of those killed in action to freshly graduated cadets.

It followed a solemn dawn service - the 98th since 1927 - around the Cenotaph in Martin Place in which the 8000 attendees were told how Anzac Day had evolved.

Later, the focus shifted to pubs and clubs where old friends reunited and young men farewelled hard-earned cash around two-up circles.

Elizabeth Matthews said she came to watch the Anzac Day march on Thursday so her children could "know what Australia is all about".

"We want to instil the Australian values and teach our kids what it's all about," she told AAP.

Judy and Collin Horn travelled from Maitland in NSW's lower Hunter region to see the march first hand for the first time, alongside hundreds of children taking it all in.

"Aussie Aussie Aussie!" one young boy cried out, an Australian flag in hand.

"They're funny uniforms!" another quipped as the pair watched bagpipers pass by.

For those veterans unable to make the 2km stretch, wheelchairs and cars were on hand.

But for one World War II former chief petty officer - the last living member of his squadron - a twirl of his walking stick and a boost from the crowd was enough to keep him going.

Spectators wave Australian flags during the Anzac Day March in Sydney
The overwhelming message from the watching crowd was one of pride. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Vivian Sun watched on from the sidelines to support her daughter Cassie, a 16-year-old cadet from James Ruse Agricultural High School.

"When we first came to Australia we wanted to learn the history," she told AAP.

"We were so proud and surprised to learn more than 100 Chinese served in the First World War.

"Now our daughter will serve and we are so proud."

Earlier, hundreds gathered under a full moon and clear skies for a solemn pre-dawn service in Martin Place.

Wreaths are laid during Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Cenotaph
A crowd huddled around the near 100-year-old Cenotaph. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

A crowd huddled around the near-century-old Cenotaph in crisp weather to mark the 109th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli during World War I.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, Premier Chris Minns and Police Commissioner Karen Webb were among those to lay wreaths.

As the lights dimmed and a spotlight shone on the cenotaph, Air Vice Marshal Glen Braz said Anzac Day had come a long way since it was first commemorated in 1916.

"With conflicts since then, the meaning has evolved," he said.

"While World War I veterans are no longer with us, and there are few remaining from World War II and Korea among us, today standing in this crowd are veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans of numerous peacekeeping missions.

"Australians who found within themselves the selflessness and courage to serve our country, to serve you and protect our way of life ... to these remarkable individuals, we say thank you."

Anzac Day also heralded the rare chance to gamble on two-up, with circles popping up in RSLs across the state.

At Harbord Diggers on Sydney's northern beaches, more than 3000 mainly young men and women were expected to try their hand over the afternoon.

Despite a few in the group suffering three-figure losses inside an hour, Josh Bolles and his mates said they were enjoying the atmosphere and spending time with friends.

A man uses a paddle to throw two coins into the air
Coins have flown in clubs and pubs across the country (Luke Costin/AAP PHOTOS)

"I love the 50-50 odds - and I just got paid so I have plenty to play with," Mr Bolles told AAP ringside.

With one exception, two-up is only permitted in NSW on Anzac Day, Victory in the Pacific Day (August 15) and after midday on Remembrance Day.

Broken Hill can host games year-round for cultural heritage reasons.

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