Families and students gather at Camp Gallipoli Melbourne to commemorate more than 100 years of Anzac spirit


By Alyssia Varricchio

Victorian school students and families camped out at the Melbourne Showgrounds for the annual Camp Gallipoli event last night.

The sleepover was full of educational videos and short films including a Pozieres documentary, as well as popular entertainment, before an early wake up call for the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Camp Gallipoli sleepouts took place simultaneously across the nation in all capital cities.

“It’s an opportunity for kids, families, community groups to come together and share in a unique experience, to commemorate Australia’s military history,” David Watson, Camp Gallipoli General Manager told SYN News.

“Hopefully they can take a bit away from it but also have a bit of fun, because that’s what it’s all about – coming together with mates and sharing in something quite special.

“It’s certainly a balancing act, it’s about getting that equal mix of entertainment, education and obviously commemoration is very, very important.”

Australian singer-songwriter Taylor Henderson was one of the headline entertainment acts.

“There were men who were the same age as me when they went off to war so I think it’s a nice way how they’re (Camp Gallipoli) doing this,” Henderson told SYN News.

“It’s a day you don’t want to forget because what they did for us so many years ago is so important, and they obviously took their lives for us, for their country so that we can live like we do today.”

But the event was not without it’s controversy, as Camp Gallipoli came under investigation the night before it was due to take place, after allegations emerged that it did not pass on money it raised to veterans’ associations.

Camp Gallipoli refuted the allegations via its website and social media.

“Obviously it’s disappointing but we don’t want it to overshadow anything and what we’re putting on here and what is ultimately about the children,” Mr. Watson told SYN News.

“That’s what the mantra is and that’s what we’ll always strive towards. We recognise that (the investigation) and we refute the allegations. But at the end of the day we’re all about putting on great events for the kids and hopefully giving them something they can enjoy and learn from and you know have good experiences from.”

A staff member from Northside Christian College in Bundoora, who had 13 students attending the event, said that she was not even aware of the allegations.

“I don’t know anything about it so I can’t really comment,” Amy Horneman said, when questioned by SYN News.

“Our school came to camp Gallipoli last year and the students had a really great time. The school decided that it was a really great opportunity to get our young people continuing to promote the Anzacs and the whole cause so we decided to take another group again this year and the students are having a really fantastic time so that’s good.”