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Anzac pilgrims end their journey in Canberra

22 APRIL 2004

Personal mementos from some of the thousands of young Australians who join Anzac Day services at Gallipoli go on show at the National Museum of Australia tomorrow.

The photographs, diaries, maps, travel guides and t-shirts plot the progress of the increasing number of travellers who flock to Turkey on April 25 each year.

'We're interested in how Anzac has become such a powerful legend in Australian society,' said curator Guy Hansen. 'The thousands of people who travel to this secluded beach on the other side of the globe show us how important Gallipoli is in defining us as a nation.'

Mr Hansen said the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing prompted a new generation of Australians to visit the site since 1990, marking it firmly on the backpacker trail.

Canberran Skye Sargent made the pilgrimage in 2002, inspired by the experience of previous travellers and her work with the Department of Defence.

'I'd always been moved by Anzac Day ceremonies in Australia, but being at Gallipoli was a very emotional experience,' Skye said. 'I remember the moonlight on the ocean during the dawn service and seeing old diggers being applauded at Lone Pine. My thoughts struggled between the beauty of the landscape and bloodshed of years before.'

Skye's photos, service booklet, t-shirt and travel guide form part of the Anzac pilgrims display, on show in the National Museum's permanent Nation gallery, which explores symbols of Australia including the iconic digger memorial.

The display also includes a program from the first Anzac Day service held in Egypt in 1916, a handmade flier for an impromptu cricket match at Gallipoli in 1998 and a t-shirt from the Vegemite bar in nearby Canakkale.

Media are invited to visit the Anzac pilgrims display with Guy Hansen and several of the travellers at the National Museum at 11.15am tomorrow, Friday 23 April.

Mr Hansen said the National Museum documented the stories of 20 Anzac pilgrims after launching a national search last April. Interestingly, none had family connections to Gallipoli, though two have since discovered links.

'It's also interesting to see more and more people wanting a physical connection to Gallipoli. We were offered a three-kilogram piece of shrapnel...and there's been recent debate about the sale of commemorative objects containing grains of Gallipoli sand.'

Visit the Anzac Pilgrims http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/community/anzac_pilgrims/ section where visitors can view photos and journal entries and record their stories.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Leanda Coleman on
02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or
l.coleman@nma.gov.au