Airlie Beach / Whitsunday RSL President Terry Brown walks alongside the parade with pride.
Airlie Beach / Whitsunday RSL President Terry Brown walks alongside the parade with pride. Sharon Smallwood

Anzac values shine through at Airlie Beach march

MUCH has changed in the 102 years since the battle of Gallipoli in which 7600 Australians and 2500 New Zealanders were killed.

However, the common values of "courage", "mateship", "respect", "devotion to duty" and "Anzac spirit" rang as true today in Airlie Beach as they did during the conflict.

This is what Division 1 Councillor Jan Clifford had to say as she addressed the Airlie Beach Anzac Day parade this morning at the Rock of Remembrance.

"Anzac Day allows us to reflect on these words and what they mean to each of us and how the Anzac spirit is relevant today," she said, noting these were values reflected widely in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie over the past four weeks in which the Whitsunday community bound together and helped those most in need.

RSL Airlie sub branch president Terry Brown said despite the cyclone's devastating effects, the Whitsunday community's resolve to honour the Anzacs was stronger than ever.

"Our visitors will notice that our normally pristine Whitsundays looks a little bruised and battered at the moment," he said.

"However, just like the service men and women we are commemorating, our community spirit has and will continue to shine through."

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan also paid his respects to the defence force, noting their work overseas, and in "our own backyard" during the recent cyclone's aftermath.

"Seeing our diggers and their colleagues from the RAN off the coast fills people with hope, for without hope what have we got?" he said.

The Anzac parade attracted a large gathering including students from Proserpine State and High schools, St Catherine's Catholic College, Whitsunday Christian College and Cannonvale State School.

Wreaths were laid by numerous school students and members of the community as well as by Councillors Jan Clifford and Ron Petterson, Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, and guest speaker Major William Norton (retired).

Retired warrant officer and Airlie Beach / Whitsunday RSL vice president Bill Rose said he was impressed with the Anzac spirit embraced by the Whitsunday community.

"Its getting to be so massive, when we are out here looking out at the water and the wreaths this is a beautiful sight," he said.

"The crowds are growing beautifully, especially with the children."

Major Will Norton said the significance of the Anzac story 102 years on continued to shine through.

"Anzac Day is not a celebration of victory, or of defeat, or of war itself," he said.

"For Australia, what made April 25 and Gallipoli different from previous military endeavours such as the Maori Wars, Sudan and the Boer War was that it was the first major war we fought as a nation."

The Anzac march began at 8.45am from the Broadwater Avenue carpark and extended through Airlie beach Main Street, concluding along the Airlie Beach foreshore.

Anzac traditions are continuing throughout the day with two-up to be played at the Reef Gateway Hotel from 1.30pm.

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