Anzac Day 2020: How Australians and New Zealanders can commemorate the day from isolation

From Zoom chats to readings on social media, here's how to stay connected with the remembrance service wherever you are

epa08340649 Music teacher Alastair Tomkins is seen playing the Last Post at Sheldon College in Brisbane, Australia, 01 April 2020. Anzac Day ceremonies and marches around Australia have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), so Mr Tomkins has launched Music for Mateship and is encouraging brass musicians to get out on their driveways at 6am on Anzac Day to play The Last Post, observe a minute's silence, then play Rouse/Reveille.  EPA/DARREN ENGLAND AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

April 25 is perhaps one of the few days of the year where Australia and New Zealand see eye-to-eye on things, putting their sporting differences and arguments over the origins of a hotly contested meringue dessert aside.

On Anzac Day, New Zealanders and Australians come together across the world for the national day of remembrance for the two countries.

The day marks the anniversary of the first major military campaign fought by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the First World War.

Usually marked by a dawn service that takes place at 5.30am in countries across the world, including one at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli where hundreds of New Zealanders and Australians take pilgrimages to each year, (dawn was one of the times favoured for launching an attack in the war), this year will be a little different.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, public gatherings are not possible, so several commemorations have been planned for online.

Luckily, global lockdowns have helped reignite a newfound appreciation for baking in households around the world, meaning the production of Anzac biscuits (a oat-based cookie associated with the day) should not be affected.

Here's how to celebrate Anzac Day from isolation:

A dawn service over Zoom 

James Hamilton, who runs the New Zealanders in Dubai Facebook group, has organised a Zoom call and put out an open invite for anyone to join in.

The call will take place at 7am UAE time (timed to coincide with 6am in Anzac Cove, Gallipoli) on Saturday, April 25.

The virtual dawn service will be run by a friend of Hamilton's, who is a "decorated" member of the military living in Australia.

Australian military veterans participate in the ANZAC Day dawn service at Elephant Rock in Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Australia, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Thousands of Australians gathered at pre-dawn services around the country to commemorate the moment when Australian and New Zealand Army Corps troops waded ashore at the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey 103 years ago in their first major battle of World War I. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP)

They are working on a few passages from New Zealand and Australian celebrities to be read out during the event, as well as footage from New Zealand commemorations – and even a rendition of The Last Post.

Hamilton, who works for Etihad airline, said he was prompted to organise it in light of current movement restrictions meaning gathering as a group for a traditional service isn't possible this year.

"We've got a great group of people here and it's just gaining pace," he said.

"You write a post asking something and you'll get 100 replies back saying I can do this or that. It will be good."

For those wanting to join, the Zoom meeting ID is 881 2153 6015, and the password is 751863. It is expected to be about half an hour long.


For the Kiwis, the New Zealand Embassy in the UAE is suggesting you take part in an initiative run by the Returned and Services Association and the New Zealand Defence Force especially for 2020. Entitled #StandAtDawn, the idea is that Kiwis, whether they are in New Zealand or abroad, will stand for a minute of silence at 6am in their respective time zone.

"Stand at your letterbox, at the front door, in your lounge rooms, balconies, in your driveway."

The official dawn service will be broadcast on Radio NZ National (AM & FM frequencies) and online on the Radio NZ website or mobile phone app. Veterans are encouraged to wear their medals, just as they would for the official public gathering.

As with the live event, the virtual edition will feature a performance of The Last Post, the Ode of Remembrance in Te Reo and in English, the National anthems and an address by Ron Mark, Minister of Defence and Minister of Veterans.

In the UAE, New Zealand Ambassador Matthew Hawkins will lead the tributes from the embassy's flagpole at 5.45am.

Follow the Anzac spirit on social media

As for the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Anzac Day will this year be a virtual affair. Those wanting to follow along with the Australian goings-on are encouraged to follow the embassy's social media accounts (here they are on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Australian Ambassador to the UAE Heidi Venamore on Twitter), where they will share photos and pictures to commemorate the day.

The posts will include readings done by the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces.

There's also the option of staying up late on Friday night to catch the dawn service taking place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which will be live streamed on its website, as well as on Facebook and YouTube.

This begins at 5:30am AEST on Saturday, April 25 (11.30pm UAE time on Friday, April 24).

The Australian War Memorial website also features several ideas on how to spend Anzac Day at home this year, spearheaded by the aptly named #AnzacAtHome campaign.

"Whilst we are unable to hold our usual dawn services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is still important to pause and reflect on Anzac Day, to honour the servicemen and women who have served in the past, and recognise those who are currently serving," Venamore says.

What is Anzac Day?

It was this date, April 25, in 1915 when the troops, who became known as the Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps), landed in Turkey and joined the Allies, who were planning an ill-fated attempt to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, en route to the Turkish capital of Constantinople.

What had been planned as a confident move to knock the Ottomans out of the war, became a bloody stalemate that caused the Allies to suffer heavy losses. By the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated, suffering more than 56,000 deaths – including 8,709 Australians and 2,721 New Zealanders.