Ballot possible for 2015 Gallipoli services

Photo / File
Photo / File

Travellers planning a visit to Gallipoli for Anzac Day 2015 could face a ballot selection with organisers of the centenary event forecasting record crowds.

As final preparations are made for Wednesday's 97th Anzac Day commemorations in northwest Turkey, the head of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board fears the site will not cope with demand for the 100-year event.

"The reality is there can only be 10,500 people at the dawn service in 2015," board chairman and former chief of the Defence Force Angus Houston told reporters at Lone Pine on Monday.

The retired air chief marshal said authorities are trying to formulate a plan to accommodate crowds and when asked about the use of a ballot, replied: "We are looking at all of the options to see what could be done."

Some 7000 people are expected to gather overnight on Tuesday and be part of Wednesday's dawn service, held in nearby Anzac Cove, where members of the Australian Imperial Force landed on April 25, 1915.

The commemorations have become a popular attraction for Australian and New Zealand travellers and the board estimates interest will reach an untenable level for the centenary.

"It's probably likely that there'll be a very high demand, but I think there's a reality about this site," Mr Houston said.

"I think it will be incumbent upon Australia and New Zealand to manage the numbers so that we end up with people who have a good experience and are not frustrated by the fact that they can't attend the service.

"The reality is there are limitations and Turkey expects us to manage our people in terms of their attendance at this very important ceremony in 2015."

Mr Houston said tour organisers have been warned that numbers will be limited for the centenary event and there is no option to expand the site.

"The fact of the matter is, it's in a national park, you can't remove any of the vegetation ... it's a very restricted and limited site," he said.

Mr Houston has been in talks with local Turkish authorities about the 2015 event and plans to travel to the capital, Ankara, for further meetings at the end of the week.

Having spent almost a year gathering feedback from across Australia on what the Anzac Day centenary should offer, Mr Houston said everyone wants to be involved.

"It will be very much what we do now," he said.

"The overwhelming feedback from the Australian community is: 'Don't mess with Anzac Day, we like it the way it is'."

Mr Houston will be part of the official party at Gallipoli for Anzac Day this year, along with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"At the end of the day, these brave warriors, these Anzacs, that lie a short distance from here, defined our identities as Australians, and defined the way Australians see themselves in the world," Mr Houston said of the importance of marking Anzac Day."

Minister of Veteran's Affairs Nathan Guy said that at this stage no decisions have been made about how the expected huge interest by New Zealanders and Australians in attending the centenary of Anzac Day in 2015 will be dealt with.

"The reality is that Gallipoli is a national park on a narrow peninsula and the Anzac Commemorative sites can hold a limited number of people. We are working closely together with the Turkish and Australian Governments on arrangements for Anzac Day 2015 in Gallipoli.

"We can be proud that nearly 100 years on so many New Zealanders, Australians and Turkish people want to honour our Anzac soldiers at Gallipoli."

- AAP

The Auckland Museum has the official Book of Remembrance open again this year for the public to post messages during the ANZAC period.

The public can also download the Dawn Service programme here.

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