10 March 2023

Eurobodalla to stage a special 'Dawn' service this Anzac Day

| Zoe Cartwright
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Dawn memorial

An intimate dawn memorial for the fallen at Wimbie Beach last Anzac Day. Photo: Dawn Simpson.

One Surf Beach woman is on a mission to curate a very special dawn memorial this Anzac Day – and your empty jam jars could help.

In remembrance of the about 500 Eurobodalla Shire men who served in WWI, Dawn Simpson hopes to line Wimbie Beach with 500 candles before sunrise on April 25.

“Imagine how it would have been for the women, and everyone left at home – 500 is a lot of manpower missing just from our shire,” she said.

After a trip to Gallipoli, taken in memory of her grandfather’s service, Dawn was struck by the similarity between Anzac Cove and her beloved beaches at home.

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“My grandfather, Harry Constable MM, came from Dignam’s Creek, and thank God he came back or I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“He got a military medal, came home a hero and married my grandmother, Millie. They had a little boy Jeff, and then my mother three years later; shortly after that Millie died.

“I feel so sad for him. He deserved a happy life after the war.

“I wish I’d spent more time with him while he was here – suddenly they’re gone, and you still have all these questions you want to ask and they’re just not here to answer them.

Men in uniform

Two of the men who left the Eurobodalla Shire to fight in WWI, including Dawn Simpson’s grandfather. Photo: Dawn Simpson.

“So I went to Turkey three years ago and on the second day there we were on the Gallipoli peninsula.

“When the Turkish tourists found out there was an Australian on the bus they all wanted a photo together and I was hugging them and just trying to soak it all up.

“I walked in the water at Anzac Cove and when I came home I started thinking.

“It’s not a very big cove – only about as big as Surf Beach.”

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The similarities inspired Dawn to create an intimate Anzac memorial last year.

She and four others gathered early on Wimbie Beach, taking with them 300 candles in glass jars.

They lined the shore with flickering lights and rosemary, before watching the sun come up in silence.

This year, Dawn is hoping for 500 candles (which is where your jam jars come in) and some more people on the beach.

“It was the most beautiful feeling and experience last year,” she said.

“With the sun coming up you can just picture Anzac Cove – it’s quite surreal actually.

“We all wanted to do it again this year and my dream is to have more than 500 candles on the beach eventually, and I’m encouraging as many people to be part of it as possible.”

Anyone able to donate some clean, empty jars, or who would like to volunteer to light a candle on Wimbie Beach this April 25, is encouraged to get in touch with Dawn via Facebook.

She will provide a light continental breakfast for volunteers following the memorial.

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