Community groups honour ANZAC spirit

Brad, David and Steve from the Rural Fire Service helped prepare breakfast for the masses after the Dawn Service.

AFTER the main commemoration events of the Dawn and 11am Services, it was the community gathering and spirit that many relished on Thursday, 25 April.

More than 100 years since the first Gallipoli landings, nonetheless, the uniquely Trans-Tasman commemoration showed its strongest signs yet as one for all to join and remember, and be amongst others.

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After the Dawn Service at Tea Gardens, much of the large crowd relocated to the Tea Gardens Country Club to enjoy a free bacon and egg breakfast, a mainstay of the ANZAC morning, and manned, for almost a decade now, by the valiant volunteers of the Pindimar-Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service.

“We may burn bush, but we don’t burn bacon and eggs!” declared Brigade Captain David Bright, as his team, a well-oiled machine, served hundreds of hungry commemorators, coming in from the damp Dawn Service.

A total of 28 loaves of bread, more than 20kg of bacon, over 200 eggs and a 5:30am start is what it took to feed more than 100 people who turned up after the larger-than-usual Dawn Service on ANZAC Day.

Joanne Penton and her mother, Jenny Ross-Henry, both observed, “Much more talking happens at the Club after the Service, the more relaxed atmosphere allows the camaraderie of the day to settle in.

“The social camaraderie is the lifeblood of the RSL, and the reason why we come back here afterwards.”

Similar scenes were witnessed after the 11am Service, when the Tea Gardens Country Club Ladies Bowlers served BBQ sandwiches, funded by the RSL sub-Branch and a gold-coin donation.

From 1:30pm, of course, was the all-important Two-Up announcement, and the inevitable crowd formed out the back, overlooking Port Stephens, for the novelty of the historic game that kept many Diggers entertained in the trenches.

Kevin McInerney led the calls for bets and spinners on the green felt mat, using the collector’s pieces that are the Australian pennies, as bets ran hot.

“Taileys and headers!” was the frequent call, those tapping their heads on the toss for the three pennies, while others watched on, scratching theirs as to how it all works – the game is only legal in most of NSW on three dates in the year – ANZAC Day, VP Day (15 August), and Remembrance Day.

The air of camaraderie was, indeed, palpable and relaxed, as the public holiday was a welcome respite for most.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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