Australians were asked to mark Anzac Day differently this year and in Port Stephens, residents rose to the occasion.
Despite being unable to attend a traditional Anzac Day service this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations, right across the Port on Saturday, April 25 residents instead took to their driveways with lights and candles, handcrafted tributes and flags to 'light up the dawn' to pay tribute to the Anzacs, veterans and the men and women who are currently serving in the armed forces.
In some streets, residents waved and cheered as veterans marched. In others, there was displays of poppies, milk bottle lanterns and photos of family members who have served.
While war memorials remained silent this year on Anzac Day, tributes were still laid.
On Saturday morning, councillor and deputy mayor Chris Doohan laid wreathes on behalf of the people of Port Stephens at the war memorials in Karuah, Tanilba Bay and Medowie.
"In doing so I was able to witness the incredible spirit shown by so many across our region. Well done Port Stephens. Well done," Cr Doohan said.
Anna Bay siblings Emily and Rhylin Green, 11 and 5, took the opportunity while on their daily walk to lay a wreath together at the Nelson Bay war memorial on Saturday.
Emily, school captain and in year 6 at Anna Bay Public School, has marched for her school each year. Her younger brother, Rhylin, started kindergarten at the Anna Bay school this year.
"Every year Emily has marched for her school. Upon being elected school captain this year Emily was elated that she would honour her great grandfathers, her family and her school.
"They were set to commemorate their first and only primary school Anzac Day together. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 twist this was not going to be," their mother, Zoe Green, said.
In past years while Emily took part in the mid-morning march through Nelson Bay her brother Rhylin stood on the sidelines of the parade cheering and watching.
This year he was set to join his sister for the first time, however all official Anzac services and events were cancelled due to COVID-19.
Unable to march together and attend the traditional Nelson Bay service, the pair instead made their own wreaths which they laid at the memorial in Apex Park while on a walk with their parents.
I'm truly loving these #AnzacDay videos. Shot at Shoal Bay by Margaret Kemp who said: "I don't know who this young lady was but it was very moving. Also played Abide with Me. So wonderful to see people out at sunrise" #PortStephens@PortExaminer#AnzacSpiritpic.twitter.com/GKZgzEQWyD— Ellie-Marie Watts (@E1MaWa) April 27, 2020
Emily and Rhylin paused to remember their great grandfathers - WWll, Timor and New Guinea veteran Stan Browning and New Guinea veteran James Dawson.
"We crafted our own rosemary wreaths grown from the children's great, great grandfather's original rosemary plant, we lit our driveway at dawn and placed our wreaths [at the memorial] in the afternoon as the park was bare," Mrs Green said.
"Emily and Rhylin were both so proud to still be able to show their respect to those who have served our country."
Emily and Rhylin still continued a Green family post-Anzac march tradition - grabbing a slushy.
"Saturday's walk was just a little different to the others we've been having while in isolation," Mrs Green said.
Around 40 men, women and children gathered in a small community of Anna Bay to honour our Anzacs and all those who have served, and continue to serve, with a 6am street service.
RAAF Base Williamtown Warrant Officers Andrew 'Jake' Elwood and Steve Medaris led the ceremony with a moving rendition of The Last Post and The Rouse as dawn broke over the horizon.
The sounds of the bugles were punctuated by a minute's silence.
The street gathering took the place of the traditional dawn service, which honours the brave men and women of Australia and New Zealand, this year due to social distancing restrictions imposed by governments brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
"This year may be different due to situations out of our control. We may not be able to march or attend large services, but this does not mean we cannot honour and respect our veterans and service members," WOFF Medaris said.
While some people joined the buglers at the junction of Pepper Lane and Lantry Place, others paid their respects from their driveways.
Anzac Day Dawn Service in Anna Bay
There was a significant turn out by residents of Pacific Dunes Golf Estate to commemorate Anzac Day.
Backyards, driveways and various other locations around the 18th fairway were filled with residents holding candles for dawn service.
The Last Post could be heard being played on trumpet or electric violin, as well as the downloaded recorded version provided by the government depending on where you were located around the course, said resident Richard Ayre.
Handcrafted poppies displayed in the front yards of homes across the Port was another
In Lemon Tree Passage, Sue Oldham made poppies to display in the yard of her Paroa Avenue home.
The display featured 105 poppies in total to "represent the number of years since the [Anzacs] beached upon Gallipolli April 25, 1915", Ms Oldham said.
These included: 90 red poppies to represent service men and women who have shed blood and lost their lives, 11 purple in remembrance of service animals, two orange in support of the families of veterans who returned home from war but took their own lives and two white to represent peace.
In Raymond Terrace, sisters Grace and Abi Rolfe, 9 and 10, made more than 200 poppies to display in the front of their Raymond Terrace home for Anzac Day.
Abby Thomson and her family from Woodville spent the lead up to April 25 making lanterns and Anzac biscuits for theirs neighbours.
"We created several poppy milk bottle lights with side images of different religions. Since Australia was a very religious country back [in the 1900s] we used different types of religions on the cartons to represent the diverse nature of the Anzac soldiers," Ms Thomson said.
"We placed my great great-great uncle's photo out there as he fought and died in World War One and he is one of the soldiers we always remember.We stayed up making biscuits the night before to give to our neighbours for Anzac Day."
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