What began as a small, quiet ceremony to honour ANZACS who fought and died at Gallipoli has turned into a blockbuster event. More than 18,000 people crowded the narrow strip of land just north of ANZAC Cove in Turkey for the 90th anniversary in 2005. Few were at Gallipoli. Fewer still had blood ties with the Diggers who survived or were killed on that faraway shore.
Compass accompanied four Australians who made the 2005 Gallipoli pilgrimage: backpacker Rebecca Leach; former soldier Luke Davis and his father Kerry; former NSW Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street who went there with his 14 year old daughter Jessie to honour his uncle killed at Gallipoli; and University of NSW historian Bruce Scates, who specialises in the history of pilgrimages to battle fields.
Their journey begins at home in Australia and we travel with them through exotic Istanbul to ANZAC Cove. For each the journey is quite different. Some make their way on tour buses. Others travel in luxury. All have a common goal: to experience the place that created the ANZAC legend. Through their eyes Compass examines the growing importance of Gallipoli as a symbol of national identity and meaning. It outlines what happened on that fateful shore early last century and explores in detail the history of what has become a quasi-religious pilgrimage. Along the way we meet the hosts of this annual event, the Turkish people, many of whom are themselves descendants of soldiers who fought and died at ANZAC Cove.
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