It had been a stressful week.
That Friday was the deadline for two – significant – literary competitions I had been working on my manuscript really hard to meet, but I had fallen short of finishing. So I was deliberating on the wisdom (or madness) of submitting what I had done in the hopes that merit could be seen in the existing material. This went against all better judgement I had experienced (both as a writer and a reader of competition submissions) over the years. So as I was working, and flip-flopping between choices, and receiving a poetry rejection, I was kind of… spent.
Then, on the Thursday, I sat down to check my email. There was one in my inbox about the Gallipoli 2015 ballot ‘Notice of Outcome of Application’. I think I even rolled my eyes and thought, ‘Here we go again’ and was expecting another thumbs down.
The opening line read thus:
On behalf of the Australian Government and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, we are very pleased to inform you that your application for a double pass to attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Gallipoli on 25 April 2015 has been successful.’
I re-read it about five times before I actually believed the words. I then rang Adam and told him before asking, ‘Is this a secret? Can I tell anyone?’ I could practically hear his shrugging shoulders on the other end of the phone, so I thought if it was secret, the email would’ve said. I posted the line on Facebook and the reaction was as surprised and excited as mine was. There were 42,000 applicants for 8,000 spots – so the odds weren’t minuscule, but they weren’t large either.
The funny thing is I nearly wasn’t in the ballot at all. I only remembered about it the day it was set to close (31st Jan), and even then that was because there was a reminder about it in the media, either on the radio or the television, I can’t recall. So I jumped online and filled it in “just in case”.
Which brings us up to now. What happens next?
I have until October to officially accept my spot – two spots, actually, I got a double pass – which is excellent news, because my preliminary research has shown that travelling to Gallipoli, especially on Anzac Day, most especially on THAT Anzac Day, can get tricky. The simplest, and most popular, option is to join a tour that will take us to Gallipoli. Most of these either are too long, too expensive, or don’t like kids, or only make allowances for people who will be going to the services, which will leave the other members of our family without much to see/do. I don’t want us to separate – that night we were parted in Hong Kong, thanks to Riley’s broken arm, was horrible. So, there are practicalities to consider, but I’ll keep researching and investigating.
Why did I apply in the first place? Our family has connections to Gallipoli – members on my mother’s side fought there. Others fought elsewhere. I’d like to pay my respects. This is a remarkable opportunity, I want to grab it and run with it.
I’ll fill you in with more news as it comes to hand.
If anyone has been to Gallipoli in the past and has any advice about travelling there, please let me know, I’d love to hear.
Image credit: The Commons, taken “Anzac Cove and New Zealand Point, looking north, 1915-1918 / Frank Hurley” by State Library of New South Wales