Days: 522 (29 November 2015)
Total distance travelled: 132,996.8 kilometres (82,606.71 miles)
A hundred years ago, the world was embroiled in possibly the first truly global conflict.
Although the majority of said conflict took place in the battlefields of Europe, one of its “sideshows” holds an important place in Australian history, and that sideshow would be the Gallipoli campaign (apparently it was the brainchild of the then British Lord of the Admiralty, a young Winston Churchill).
Using a lot of romantic licence, for many it is considered our (Australia’s) baptism of fire, the first test of a new nation (Australia’s federation only took place fourteen years earlier).
My great grandfather served in the ‘Great War’, however he joined up too late to actually serve in this campaign.
Between us though, there was a link, as Sarah’s second great uncle ‘Cliffie’ served, fortunately surviving the horrendous conditions here and indeed the war as a whole.
It was to these battlefields that we now travelled.
We were part of a day tour from Çanakkale, and after traversing the Dardanelles by ferry, we merged with another tour group and were eventually on our way.
After a series of winding switchbacks, we took our first stop near these once bloodied, bullet riddled shores.
Gazing down from above, one could only begin to imagine the trepidation felt by the young men, lacking battle experience and far from home (it was unknown to them, but they were also mistakenly landing at the wrong beach).
With high hills and cliffs from above, it certainly, even now looks an in inhospitable place for an invasion landing force.
Throw in an enemy entrenched on the commanding heights, and it was to become truly deadly.
Nature has since reclaimed this place, its shell and bullet riddled shores and slopes now covered once more with vegetation, and where there were breaks, it was usually an encounter with an immaculately manicured and maintained cemetery.
With mainly blue skies and a calm sea, it looked a lovely place in which to lay in rest…
After some quiet contemplation and wandering about the graves at ANZAC Cove, we journeyed upwards, taking in more memorials and the cemetery at the site of one of the campaigns mosr famous battles, Lone Pine (despite it only being a diversionary assault).
Part of a much larger plateau, we were even able to wander amongst the scrub and amidst a copse of pines (a hundred years earlier, only a solitary tree had stood here, hence the name) lay a series of the original Turkish trenches.
Of more significance globally (and for the future of the world) was the future of a young Ottoman officer who rose to prominence as one of the commanders on the peninsula.
Mustafa Kemal is in fact credited with preventing a total Turkish rout in the first hours of the invasion, and post war with visions of a new, modern Turkey became known as Ataturk (the father of present day Turkey).
Higher still, were the positions in and around the narrow ridge known as The Nek, site of another famous attack, and somewhat inaccurately immortalised in Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli (starring a young Mel Gibson).
Today there lies a love between the Turkish, Australian and New Zealand nations, a love forged in blood spilled, and lives lost together.
As one gazes down to the rugged terrain below, it’s impossible not to simply think of it all as folly…
* We booked our Gallipoli tour through Wilusa Travel for ŧ75.00 Lire per person (which included lunch), departing from Çanakkale.