'Waterproof' Queenslanders mark Anzac Day

·2-min read

From a packed Brisbane city centre to a suburban street lined with candles, Queenslanders have marked their first Anzac Day in three years without COVID-19 restrictions by paying their respects any way they can.

Wet weather could not stop thousands surrounding the Shrine of Remembrance in the heart of Brisbane for the dawn service on Monday.

"Everywhere I looked there were people. It's wonderful, it's like a return to normalcy," said Major General Stephen Day, the RSL Queensland state president who has served in the Australian army for 40 years.

"The weather wasn't kind to us but as an old drill sergeant once said to me, 'your skin is waterproof', so we got through what was a respectful, sombre commemoration."

Other dignitaries at the service included Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Queensland Governor Jeannette Young.

In contrast to the capacity CBD crowd, a handful of neighbours in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington held their own service and parade attended by a solitary veteran.

Trevor Robinson, 88, marched down a section of Oxford Street in full uniform as his neighbours stood silently outside their homes holding candles.

The emotional, intimate service marked a sign of the times.

While an end to COVID-19 restrictions was welcomed by crowds packing almost 500 services throughout the state on Monday, RSL Australia will continue its Light up the Dawn initiative.

It allows people to mark Anzac Day at home with a candle-lit salute, an initiative that began in 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions hit hard.

"Light Up the Dawn is a great tradition that has come out of it (pandemic restrictions)," said Maj Gen Day.

"There's nothing like doing it in person, but it has been a tough couple of years."

He said the Ukraine conflict gave Anzac Day "extra poignancy", echoing the sentiments of dawn service's Chaplain Gary Stone who led a prayer for the war-torn country.

The Anzac Day ceremonies around Australia are the first since forces withdrew from Afghanistan, where Maj Gen Day served with his son who attended the Canberra service on Monday.

Thousands later braved the wet to attend the Anzac Day parade in Brisbane's CBD, another moment Maj Gen Day savoured.

"The parade is a chance to have a laugh and maybe shed a tear with the community - it means everything to us," he said.

"It is the community telling us 'we care, we respect and we honour', and we are grateful for that.

"My message is our fallen and our veterans gave freely of themselves so we could live in a land that's free and fair - and we have inherited a land that is as free and fair as there is."

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