Best ANZAC Day Dawn Services + Two-Up around the EastOn Monday April 25, we celebrate ANZAC Day once more. Originally created in 1916 to pay tribute to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives at Gallipoli the year before, ANZAC Day now stands as a public holiday on which to remember and revere all those who “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and to pay homage to “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”
Other countries might honour the valour and bravery of their soldiers by holding a vigil, or a mass, or maybe some other sober and sad event. Then everyone might go home and silently reflect on death.
Not us. We’re Australians (and New Zealanders!), so we do things a bit differently. Never ones to surrender to moroseness, our national tradition involves celebrating our soldiers with a combination of solemn recognition (i.e. the Dawn Service), followed by a knees-up bonanza of mateship, camaraderie and beer (i.e. BBQ and two-up).
Here, the Beast presents you with the best Dawn Services to attend around the East, followed by the most banging two-up venues for 2016.
BEST DAWN SERVICES IN THE EASTNorth Bondi RSL
The Dawn Service held at North Bondi War Memorial is an incredibly special annual event, which has seen vastly increased crowds in the last few years. Last year gathering over 10, 000 serving and ex-soldiers, community members, and regional dignitaries, the service is particularly moving because of its location on the glistening shores of Bondi Beach. This year the service will begin at 6am in darkness, with the sun set to rise at 6:25am. The demographic at the service reflects the general demographic of the Bondi area: the crowd is comprised largely of people in their 20s and 30s. This being said, the beach location also makes the event incredibly child-friendly. And standing in silence as the Last Post plays against the gentle breeze of sea-spray is an experience that one is not likely to soon forget.Coogee
Join the Coogee, Randwick and Clovelly RSL sub-branches at Goldstein Reserve on Coogee Beach this year, as they “gather in pre-dawn darkness to honour the service and sacrifice of our original ANZACs, and the generations of Australian servicemen and women who have defended our values and freedoms.” The service starts at 5am, so this is the event to choose if you’re a fan of early nights. That being said, sacrificing a few hours of sleep to honour our fallen soldiers isn’t exactly a raw deal on your behalf, so bloody wake up and crack to it, we say! The Coogee Beach Dawn Service involves a catafalque contingent, an Ode of Remembrance, a Last Post bugle call, wreath laying and speeches. Several local Coogee cafes (including Coogee Pav) have also confirmed that they will be opening early so that hungry service-goers can enjoy a true-blue Aussie fry-up after the formalities. Waverley Park
Bondi Junction and Waverley RSL sub-branches are combining their efforts and hosting a (not quite dawn) ANZAC day march and service beginning at 7:15am at Bondi Junction RSL on Gray St. Diggers will march down Bronte Rd, Oxford St and Bondi Rd, ending up at Waverley Park Cenotaph, where the 7:45am service itself will take place. Bondi Junction RSL will also be open from 6:30am on the day, offering free refreshments and breakfast to both marchers and service-goers. This is a slightly smaller service than the two listed previously, so if you’re looking for something a little more chill, then it may be for you. Waverley Park Kiosk has confirmed that it will be open for normal trading hours (7:30am – 4pm), so you can grab a coffee and a brekky wrap to energize yourself for the day ahead.Martin Place
We know, we know. It’s not technically in the East, but the Martin Place Dawn Service is legendary. It will begin at 4:15am(!) at Martin Place Cenotaph this ANZAC Day, and will involve hymns, prayers, the laying of wreaths, the playing of “The Last Post”, a minute of silence, the “Reveille,” and singing of the New Zealand and Australian national anthems.
Martin Place was in fact where the first Dawn Service was held back in 1928. Five members of the Association of Returned Soldiers and Sailors Club were wondering down Martin Place in the early hours of the morning after having been at the Association’s ANZAC dinner the night before. Reaching the Cenotaph, they saw an old lady placing a sheaf of flowers on the granite. She stumbled, and they helped her, and when she began to pray, they silently joined her. This encounter reminded them of other solitary dawns, and after appealing to the Association, it was decided that there would be a formal wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph on April 25 1928 at 4:30am, as this was the time that the landing had commenced at Anzac Cove on April 25 1915. And from this first ceremony, the service grew to what it is today. Go on, be a part of history this year.
BEST BARS + PUBS WITH ANZAC DAY TWO-UP
Now to the fun part. Aussie diggers are world-renowned for their ability to skull a tinnie and bet on literally anything. In the trenches of WW1, Aussie soldiers passed the time by betting on whether a coin toss was going to land on heads or tails. And for some reason – probably because anything more complicated would become untenable after a few beverages – this game of two-up has become the ‘national sport’ of ANZAC Day, illegal on every other day of the calendar year. Loads of bars and clubs in the East get on board every year. Here are our favourites.Coogee Pavilion
Coogee Pav will be getting in on the two-up action this year, hosting a two-up comp from 12pm on the ground level, near the light bulb whale (if you’ve never been to the Pav before, this will make sense when you enter the space and see a neon whale on the back wall). This venue is particularly convenient if you’ve been at the Coogee Dawn Service – the Pav is serving breakfast from 5:30am to 11am, so you can just hunker down eating bacon and eggs until it’s beer o’clock. If you’ve got a partner or kids with you who don’t care two figs for two-up, you’re in luck! The kids can play Ping-Pong or board games, while the reticent partner can saunter upstairs for a glass of sparkling. Perfect.Coogee Bay Hotel
The Coogee Bay Hotel was established in 1873. That is a bloody long time ago. And the reason that it’s continued to thrive all these years is that it sticks to a tried and true formula: no wankers, reasonably priced drinks, schnitty always on the menu, and a big beer garden that acts as a live music venue (Selina’s). The ultimate Coogee Bay experience comes to pass on ANZAC Day. Selina’s is transformed into a two-up kingdom as a massive barbeque sizzles away and people pretend that there is talent involved in guessing the result of a coin toss. Go on, get rowdy in the name of civic pride.Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has been a staple on the Eastern Suburbs ANZAC Day scene for years. Breakfast starts at 7am, and a harbor-side two-up ring is open from midday to sunset. What sets this place apart is the music: DJs play Aussie bangers all day, and live bagpipers rock out with them. There is also a big barbeque set up for all your sanga sandwich needs. So head here to chow down on a soft white bread roll while yelling along to Men At Work.North Bondi RSL
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that North Bondi RSL is the best located RSL in the country. Seriously, when you’re standing on the deck you are literally just staring into the water of the most iconic beach in the world. Like the Pav, this is a great move if you’ve been at the Dawn Service at the beach in the morning and want to make a day of it without having to move between venues. Breakfast is served following the 6am service, and then two-up runs between 1 and 5pm. This is the authentic two-up experience, with medalled-up old diggers lining the walls, and salty-haired legends placing bets in soaking swimmers.Clovelly Hotel
You can’t say that you’re a real Eastern Suburbs local unless you’ve spent at least one ANZAC Day at the Cloey. The Cloey understands that you’re ready to honour Australia’s fallen soldiers by drinking at 9am, so this is when the bar opens. Two-up starts at midday, and live DJs crank out the tunes all afternoon. And with the proximity to the beach, why not nip down for a quick dip between rounds? No one’s judging you here, mate.Robin Hood Hotel
The Robin Hood is a stalwart on the Eastern Suburbs scene. It’s unpretentious, the service is good, and the outdoor patio area at 1am is always a fun place to be. This year two-up is on from 1pm to sundown, and live music begins at 7pm. There’s a deck bar barbeque buffet too, so wear you pants with the elasticated waist. Despite being proud of its status as a ‘pub for the locals’, the Robin Hood does also have an exceptional range of Australian and international craft beers and wines – try the Rabbit and Spaghetti Brewing Co’s ‘Fox, Hop and Rye Lager’, for example. Weird name, good drink. And today only from 10am til 12pm, you can get $4 schooners at the front bar. Gather your crew and two-up, up and away.