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Here’s how to hold an Anzac Day dawn service in your driveway this year

Anzac Day is one of the most solemn days on Australia’s calendar, with tens of thousands traditionally attending dawn services or marches.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, Australia’s Anzac Day services have all been called off this year.

This has inspired a push for Aussies to mark their own commemorations at home, so they can pay their respects while keeping safe from the virus.

RSLs around the country encouraging people to head outside and “Light up the Dawn” with mini-services in their driveways, at their front gates or on their verandahs.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning on marking Anzac Day at home this weekend.

What’s happening on Anzac Day?

Members of the public can’t go to services or marches this year, with coronavirus restrictions and strict social distancing rules preventing the events from going ahead.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said Anzac Day this year was about personal reflection, and pleaded with the Australian public to stay at home and not attend group gatherings.

They’re not invited,” he told News Breakfast.

“It’s sad to be saying that. Every other year we tell Australians to get out there at dawn and show your respect.

“Anzac Day this year hasn’t been cancelled. We can’t cancel Anzac Day. But we have cancelled the large public gatherings.”

A national service and some state services will be going ahead, but only with small groups of essential attendees like some Australian Defence Force personnel, the Prime Minister, Governor-General and Opposition Leader.

You can watch and listen to the national service live, and you can catch many of the state services from home as well.

How to watch the national service

The National Commemorative Service will be held from 5.30am AEST.

It’s being broadcast from inside the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra, and you can watch it , listen on ABC radio, or stream on or feeds.

If you’re not in the eastern states, no worries.

The National Commemorative Service will be broadcast at 5.30am in your local time no matter where you are in the country.

For South Australians, the dawn service at the Adelaide National War Memorial (which is closed to the public) will be broadcast live from 6:00am ACST.

Listen to it on radio with ABC Adelaide and ABC South Australia, or catch the live stream on ABC Adelaide’s Facebook page.

RSL Perth’s Commemorative Service will be broadcast live from 6:30am local time on ABC Perth and ABC Western Australia radio, and live on ABC Perth’s Facebook page too.

Victorians can catch the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance service on ABC Melbourne and ABC Victoria Facebook pages from 6:10am local time and on ABC Melbourne radio from around 6:15am.

So when do I go stand in my driveway?

People are expected to gather in their driveways, on their balconies or at their front gates to “Light up the Dawn” about 6:00am.

This is roughly the time that the Ode, the Last Post, the Minute’s Silence and Reveille will be happening at the national service.

There are a few ways people can coordinate their outdoor services, such as:

AWM director Matt Anderson told News Breakfast earlier this week that this year’s Anzac Day might even be more personal by pausing in front of our homes to remember — and certainly memorable.

“I have three children. Anzac Day for us is typically about getting up early and going to a central place for commemoration,” he said.

“Whilst we’re all going to be standing apart, physically, we can still stand together in spirit. So I think that it will be intensely personal, and I hope moving way to commemorate Anzac Day this year.”

What do I do when I’m out there?

Whether you’re able to connect with the live broadcast outside or not, there are some important elements of an Anzac Day service to remember.

The AWM’s Assistant Director of Public Programs Anne Bennie says the first of those is the Ode, a section from a poem called “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them

The next element is to sound the Last Post, a bugle call used during the First World War (and earlier) to mark time.

You can listen to it in this video:

After the Last Post, mark a minute’s silence — this is to remember those killed and wounded in all conflicts.

The end of the minute’s silence is marked with Reveille, another bugle call.

Then, hear the national anthems of both New Zealand and Australia — you can sing along, or even join in if you play an instrument.

“We hope the solemnity of the service is very much carried through onto the live televised service,” Ms Bennie said.

What if I miss the dawn services?

Group gunfire breakfasts and rowdy games of two-up well into the afternoon are off the cards this year; even traditional Anzac Day sporting matches can’t be played.

But there are still other ways to commemorate at home for all ages, including the children.

From 10:00am AEST, you can catch the broadcast of a special Anzac Day event at Sydney’s Hyde Park Anzac Memorial on ABC TV.

Then from 11:30am AEST, tune in for a quiet moment of reflection including the Ode, the Last Post and a minute’s silence.

This is the time of day the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and traditionally the time the Gallipoli dawn services are held.

It will also be broadcast on ABC radio and you can watch it on iView.

The AWM has videos, recipes and other Anzac Day resources to explore online from home, including a virtual poppy wall for people to share Anzac messages from all around the world or #MuseumAtHome for a look back into Anzac history.

And yes, we said recipes — we don’t usually spend Anzac Day in the kitchen, but there is a way to learn some WWI history while filling hungry tummies at the same time.

“We’ve got some wonderful gunfire breakfast recipes that can be downloaded now, you can do your essential shopping and be preparing those at home, whether that’s Anzac biscuits or bully beef and damper for lunch,” Ms Bennie said.

There will be plenty more Anzac Day coverage on ABC radio and TV all day, including replays of the 2015 Gallipoli Centenary Commemorative Ceremony and the 2018 Villers-Bretonneux Centenary Commemorative Ceremony.

And from 7:30pm, some big names in music like Delta Goodrem, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, The Wiggles, The Rubens and more have announced they’ll present a special “Music from the Home Front” Anzac Day concert, to be broadcast on Channel Nine.

Governor-General David Hurley will give his Anzac Day address at 6:55pm and that will be screened live on ABC TV. For radio, it will run at 7:05pm (or 5:05pm in WA).

What the rest of the world is doing

Anzac Day isn’t only marked in Australia — and it’s not just Australian ceremonies that are cancelled.

Hundreds of Australians make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli and the Western Front each year to retrace the steps of World War I soldiers and participate in ceremonies at key historical sites; tours that are near-impossible this year due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will lay wreaths on behalf of Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli this year, including Lone Pine Cemetery, where one of the biggest international Anzac Day services is traditionally held.

As well as services at Gallipoli in Turkey, the Australian Government has cancelled overseas services at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt in France, Sandakan in Malaysia, Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Bomana War Cemetery and the Isurava Memorial in .

At the Menin Gate memorial in Belgium, a Last Post ceremony is held every single day at 8pm, sometimes with an audience of hundreds.

The buglers haven’t stopped, and they won’t stop for Anzac Day this year — but the public were asked to stay away from mid-March due to coronavirus. You can live stream it on the Last Post Association’s Facebook page on Anzac Day though.

And of course, in New Zealand it’s also the first time in over a century people cannot gather to pay their respects to the fallen.

New Zealand’s national services at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and Atatürk Memorial won’t go ahead, but their Ministry for Culture and Heritage is encouraging people to get involved with the New Zealand Defence Force and RSA’s #StandAtDawn campaign.

“We encourage New Zealanders to find other ways to remember and honour all those who served and are still serving New Zealand in conflict and peacekeeping,” the Ministry said on their website.