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Anzac pilgrims plot Australia's social history

22 APRIL 2003

Are you one of the thousands of Australians who has made the pilgrimage to join Anzac Day services at Gallipoli?

The National Museum of Australia this week launches the search to find young Australians who want to share their Gallipoli experience with the nation's premier social history museum.

'We're interested in how Anzac has become such a powerful legend in Australian society,' said curator Guy Hansen. 'What drives these young Australians to travel to a secluded beach at the other side of the globe to commemorate a campaign that lasted just eight months, but plays an important part in defining us as a nation?'

The National Museum's permanent Nation gallery explores symbols of Australia, including the archetypical digger memorial found in most cities and towns.

'The relatively new phenomenon of young people travelling to Gallipoli marks a changing mood in the way Anzac Day and the digger are celebrated,' Mr Hansen said.

'We can plot the rise and fall of digger culture through popular culture, whether it be through the films Gallipoli or 40,000 Horsemen or the paradoxical nature of the play The One Day Of The Year.'

The mementos, diaries and photos of the young Anzac pilgrims will be displayed in the Nation gallery.

Mr Hansen is particularly interested in hearing from people who travelled to Gallipoli without having any family connection to the campaign.

'It's interesting to consider why the child of a postwar Italian immigrant, for example, is compelled to visit what has become an almost essential part of the Australian backpacker trail.'