Students share personal stories about their Anzac experience

Brimming with national pride, a group of students who travelled to Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary in April are sharing their experiences at State Library of Queensland (SLQ).

Voices from Afar in SLQ Gallery is part of the Distant Lines First World War exhibition. It showcases the individual journeys of 15 recipients of the 2015 Premier’s Anzac Prize through video, photographs and personal belongings.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was clear the Anzac legacy would continue to teach students important lessons despite the passage of time.

“The 70 students who travelled to Gallipoli made an educational and emotional journey,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“The Premier’s Anzac Prize was designed to teach a new generation of Queenslanders about the true Anzac spirit. This installation reflects the deeper understanding of our history that these students gained.”

Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch said Voices from Afar is helping the community achieve an unprecedented connection with the people and places which forged the Anzac tradition.

“My hope is that the experiences of these students will have a multiplier effect in our schools and communities, encouraging their friends, families, and people they meet to take a greater interest in this pivotal event in our history,” she said.

State Librarian Janette Wright said the students participated in the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli and visited battlegrounds, First World War memorials and cemeteries on the Western Front for two weeks in April and May this year.

“In Voices from Afar, the students give a first-hand account of their experiences walking in the footsteps of the Anzacs and learning about the Anzac legacy,” Ms Wright said.

For Theo Delaney of Shalom College in Bundaberg, the trip was of historical and personal significance.

“The Premier’s Anzac Prize tour was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Theo said.

“I saw the places where our forebears fought for our freedom and my great grandfather fought and his brother died and is buried. The emotions that I felt were indescribable.”

For Jack Hill of Ferny Grove State High School, the Anzac tradition has taken on a new meaning since the tour.

“It’s no longer that amorphous idea of sacrifice and mateship, but it’s those individual stories of people doing their job but going that little bit above, going that little bit extra with bravery that is amazing in the face of such severe opposition as the Turks did provide,” he said.

“We had an opportunity to walk down onto the rocky shore of Anzac Cove and spend some time there. That was an amazing morning being able to sit down there, hear the waves rushing, feel the stones in your hand and realise that these same waves that were rushing now were the waves that people, potentially your age, were washing up in as they tried to fight against these Turkish defenders as they came up the shores at Anzac Cove.”

Lachlan McLean of Prince of Peace Lutheran College at Everton Hills said the trip was, at times, quite emotional.

“The most emotional point for me was at Cape Helles – I was reading all the names on the wall and I found the name AJ McLean which is the name of my dad and my grandpa and that hit me very hard. From then on I had an obsession with finding all the McLeans. I wanted to ensure that everyone from my family was commemorated. My idea of Anzac has changed completely since returning. Now I understand the sacrifice and commitment shown by the soldiers. As soon as you are there and you see a grave with the inscription age 17, that’s confronting.”

Voices from Afar is proudly supported by the Queensland Government and is on display until 27 September 2015. For more information on the installation and the Distant Lines exhibition visit qanzac100.slq.qld.gov.au

Media enquiries
Cinnamon Watson Publicity | 0432 219 643 | cinn@cinnamonwatsonpublicity.com.au

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