This time six years ago, I was huddled on a grassy hill overlooking ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli.
There were thousands of us gathered there in the dark, bundled up in layers and wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags. We’d been camped out for hours in the dark, shoulder-to-shoulder, snacking and chatting in an effort to stay awake and warm until the Dawn Service at 5.20am.
The moment the first, familiar notes of the Last Post rang out, all that human noise stopped. Except for the waves rolling onto the beach below, the peninsula was overwhelmingly silent.
It was, undoubtedly, one of the most spine-tingling experiences of my life.
Even if it’s not on your travel wish list, you’ve probably read and heard a lot about the ANZAC Day services at Gallipoli. It probably hasn't left you with the most positive impression.
You probably remember that around 10 years ago, the commemoration was marred by reports of horrendously disrespectful behaviour — piles of rubbish left behind, questionable music choices (the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ made an appearance) and a party-like atmosphere.
That in itself would be enough to deter anyone from making the Gallipoli pilgrimage. Yet this year, there's been a far more serious issue at play - the threat of terrorists targeting the event.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, just 700 Australians and New Zealanders registered for the ANZAC Day service this year, a sharp drop from the 10,500 in attendance in 2015. Turkey has also tightened security at the peninsula, with 2000 officers expected to patrol the peninsula.