Concept – what is the Anzac Commemorative Site and why was it built?

Artist impression of the Anzac Commemorative Site
Artist's impression of the Anzac Commemorative Site

Proposed Anzac Commemorative Site, Gallipoli – June 1999

1.Introduction

This report outlines the proposal by the Australian and New Zealand Governments to create a new location called the Anzac Commemorative Site.

Because of the growing number of overseas visitors attending the Anzac dawn service on the 25 April each year, there is an urgent need to move the service from the current site at the Ari Burnu War Cemetery.

The new site will also serve the needs of visitors throughout the year by assisting in the interpretation of the Anzac area as defined by the treaty of Lausanne 1923. This area forms part of the Battlefield Heritage Zone in the proposed Peace Park that incorporates the whole of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The Peace Park is currently under master planning development with the broad principles of the Park established in a preliminary form. Briefly these principles include:

  • the concept of movement as a basis of reflection
  • the balance of conservation of natural, archaeological and battlefield areas with accessibility to the public
  • to conserve, restore and rehabilitate the environmental, cultural, historical and human assets of the park, yet allow for demarcation, display, use and restricted development
  • to monitor change in the social, cultural, economic and physical character of the park.

The proposal seeks to conform with these principles and in so doing form a positive contribution to the Peace Park and provide recognition of the level of international support for this initiative for world peace.

2. Present Situation

Background

The popularity of the Anzac dawn service held on the 25th April of each year is growing, both in Australia and New Zealand and at sites throughout the world. These services commemorate the involvement of the Allied forces, particularly the Australians and New Zealanders, in the campaign of 1915 to overcome Turkish resistance and take control of the Dardanelles. Over the years this growing popularity has led to a situation where the traditional area for the service, the Ari Burnu War Cemetery, is suffering permanent damage to the graves, plantings and the fabric of the place.

These concerns led to a review of the situation where an opportunity was identified to provide a more appropriate location for the dawn service. This is also pertinent for the level of visitation on a year round basis. This level of activity is a direct result of the significance Gallipoli has for Australia and New Zealand in the forming of the identity of their respective nations. Young Turkish nationals are also wishing to learn the reasons for this growing interest shown in their country by the visitors.

The Battlefield Heritage Zone has been recently included in the cultural tour circuit that takes in Troy, Ephesus and Cape Helles. These tours have wide international appeal with tourists coming from around the world notably the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and other European countries.

The following estimates of attendees indicate this rising popularity:

1995 4,500
1996 5000
1997 6000
1998 7,500
1999 8,500
2000 expecting 10 - 12,000

There is a growing realisation within Australia and New Zealand that our nations' interest in Gallipoli will never wane because of its indelible link to the formation of our national identities. A permanent site is needed to meet this growing demand, a demand widely recognised and appreciated by Turkish authorities.

Much of the visitation that the area is experiencing is in the nature of a pilgrimage, which on Australia and New Zealand's behalf started immediately after World War One. Veterans' organisations were originally responsible for commemorating their lost comrades, but the pilgrimage to Gallipoli has grown in significance to encompass people from all walks of life.

While the primary purpose of the visitation is to learn of the war experience, the reality is that the theme is of universal suffering, including the losses suffered by the Turkish military in what is referred to by the Turkish people as the Battle of Çannakale. For Australian and New Zealand visitors, the international dimension of this campaign and particularly the full extent of war casualties, provide an experience which broadens their understanding.

3. The Site

The features of the Gallipoli Peninsula have been comprehensively described in the documentation prepared by the Turkish authorities which formed part of the brief for the international Gallipoli Peace Park Ideas Competition held in 1998. Briefly, the cultural features of the Battlefield Heritage Zone are characterised by a number of Turkish and Allied cemeteries and monuments with road access providing the main form of connection between these.

The cultural features of the shoreline around the Ari Burnu and North Beach area are the coastal road, Ari Burnu Cemetery, Canterbury Cemetery, Beach Cemetery and the works depot of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

4. Physical Outline

4.i. Climate
 

A combination of Mediterranean and Black Sea climates is a feature of the area with much of the precipitation falling in winter. The area experiences cold winters with occasional snow and hot dry summers. Temperatures vary from below freezing with a recorded maximum of 38.7 Celsius in summer.

4.ii.

Topography

 

The area is of a rugged character with a coastal plain that varies from minimal to 200 metres in width. It forms the base of the mountain range, which rises between 50 and 100 metres above the coastal strip and features a number of distinctive ridges including the "Sphinx", so named by the Anzac forces as having a similarity to the Sphinx in Egypt, where their basic training was undertaken prior to the engagement of 1915. The slopes vary from around 1 in 7 to 1 in 13 in the North Beach area of the Coastal Plain to 1 in 1 or steeper in the ridgeline behind.

4.iii.

Soils

 

The soils are a coarse granular type reflecting the underlying geology primarily of sandstone, shale and thin limestone. They are sensitive to frequency of usage and are erodible with the vegetation cover removed.

4.iv.

Drainage Patterns

 

The drainage patterns are characterised by a sharply defined fluvial pattern made distinctive as a result of the topography described above. Areas of concentrated drainage have led to erosion and surface runoff with the result that culverts under the road are blocked and remedial works are required to stabilise sections of the area.

4.v.

Sea Currents

 

The coastal location exposes the area to the local marine influences with erosion being experienced along parts of the coastal edge due to winter storms. This has led to a degree of erosion of the headlands with the result that the coastal edge of Ari Burnu Cemetery has received substantial remedial works to counter wave action, the road adjacent to Anzac Cove is gradually being undermined and Beach Cemetery is to be stabilised in the near future. The area north of Ari Burnu is more stable, but still shows evidence of wave action.

4.vi.

Vegetation

 

The dominant vegetation is the native heath typical of the Mediterranean Floristic Region. It forms a dense cover of up to two metres in height to the lower slopes of the ridge and the coastal plain. The middle and upper slopes of the ridge are characterised by soil and rock. Where the vegetation is disturbed, the soil is subject to erosion with remedial measures required for reinstatement.

5. The Proposal

5.i.

Background

 

The proposed commemorative area is located at North Beach within the Battlefield Heritage Zone of the proposed Peace Park. The infrastructure allowed within this zone under the proposed Peace Park guidelines is in relation to the display and maintenance of the battlefields.

In the selection of the site, two areas were assessed. These were the area adjacent to Ari Burnu Cemetery and a location 350 metres north, adjacent to North Beach. The area adjacent to the Cemetery is located between the existing road and the sea front. It forms a roughly triangular piece of land with its focus being the northern wall of the cemetery. It has a cross fall of approximately 1:6 with the remnants of a World War II gun emplacement adjacent to the seashore. Part of the site forms a maintenance access for the cemetery and turning area for tourist buses with the remainder of the site being the native heath of the area. It has maximum capacity (if cleared) of around 7000 people.

The North Beach site features an even grade of around 1:12 across the coastal plain with a short steep bank of around 3 metres in height adjacent to the water's edge. To the west is the sea with the "Sphinx" forming the visual curtilage to the east. The site is located between two drainage swales and is covered in a low native heath that has been trimmed for surveying purposes. The coastal road is located through the site approximately 50 metres behind the seashore.

Of the two sites, the North Beach site is the preferred location as it provides the capacity for the expected numbers of people. An opportunity for the interpretation of the 1915 campaign exists with its focus being the two main physical entities of the area: the sea and the "Sphinx".

5.ii.

The Concept

 

The concept of the design is to engage and highlight an understanding and respect for the meaning of Gallipoli and its significance to Turkey, Australia and New Zealand and the world community. The proposed Peace Park uses the concept of movement as a basis of reflection. This is highlighted on the site through the sense of a journey from a distant land to the shore of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The proposed design highlights the junction of sea and land, focusing on the natural elements of the place.

The native vegetation is retained, local stone is used in the built elements and rehabilitation will occur in areas that are currently degraded around the site.

5.iii.

Design Elements

 

1. A focal area of the annual dawn service is located adjacent to the beach and highlights the connection of the sea and land. Access towards the sea and a connecting pathway system to Ari Burnu and the existing road is provided. This path is a most important element of the design, since the dawn service will conclude with visitors returning to the cemetery. The current eroded bank to the sea will be reformed and stabilised.

2. A low wall is proposed adjacent to the existing road that will provide a location for the facilitation of the interpretation of the campaign. This wall will also assist in the stabilisation of the road. The paths will assist with the movement of the official party through the crowded site before daylight.

3. The areas of vegetation will be rehabilitated. Native border plants will create a gathering area for the dawn service. The area broadly describes a parabola in form and takes as its inspiration the topography of the environs. As this area is used intensively once a year, the native vegetation that exists will be retained and managed so as to facilitate the use of the space. To the outside of the parabola form, the native vegetation will be rehabilitated.

6. Principles

The proposal follows the principles as outlined for the Peace Park:

6.i. Environmental
  • Recognition of existing drainage patterns and rehabilitation of existing drainage works
  • Consolidation of the beachfront currently suffering erosion
  • Retention and rehabilitation of native vegetation
  • Use of local natural materials including stone and gravel
  • Minimal visual intrusion through careful design of elements
6.ii. Heritage and historical principles
  • Sympathetic to Peace Park philosophy – Journey
  • Recognition of Battlefield Heritage Zone
  • Interpretation through understanding of campaign
6.iii. Cultural principles
  • Accommodation of visitation, cultural tourism, recognition of numbers
  • Provision of amenity so not to compromise the place
  • Seek to celebrate the common heritage of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey
6.iii. Human assets
  • Provide place for pilgrimage and interpretation for all.

7. Conclusion

The proposed Anzac Commemorative site has been carefully selected to provide an appropriate amenity for the ceremonial and cultural tourism activities at Gallipoli. The site's physical character has been carefully assessed to accommodate the proposed functions. The low scale of the built elements, the provision of linking paths and the rehabilitation and conservation of native vegetation is consistent with the objectives of the proposed Peace Park.

The Australian and New Zealand Governments sought permission of the Turkish Government to construct this commemorative site for Anzac Day services and to inform visitors throughout the year of the events which took place at Gallipoli. This request was made in full recognition of Turkish sovereignty over the area in question and with acknowledgement of the importance of the whole Gallipoli Peninsula to the people of Turkey.