Ballina united from afar in ANZAC dawn service
THE haunting sound of bagpipes could be heard as the sun rose over Ballina, marking the beginning of the 2020 ANZAC Day Dawn Service.
On any other year, hundreds would have gathered around the Ballina Cenotaph to celebrate one of Australia's most solemn celebrations. But today, residents stood in their driveways to remember those who served and died in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
At 6am, locals filled the streets holding candles or pictures of loved ones, and some played musical instrument as the dawn rolled in. Many houses had been decorated the night before with Australian flags, poppies, and wreaths - marking a truly unique and spectacular ANZAC Day service.
Ballina RSL Sub-Branch President, Dick Wills, along with his wife and former servicewoman, Colleen, were standing ready in their driveway by 5.45am. Medals from their years of service reflected the early morning sunlight, as they played music and stood before a homemade mural.
"It was very moving and inspiring. I could see lots of people out, and taking photographs - and the ones I could see were facing the east as Paradise played the dawn service," said Mr Wills.
"The emotion was still there, even though you're not crowded together. I still felt connected with the people and with the moment."
East Ballina resident, Narelle Besseling, was surrounded by neighbours as she played her bagpipes this morning. Ms Besseling woke at 5am this morning in preparation for todays special service, so that she could be dressed and ready to welcome the dawn with a powerful tune.
The festivities will continue into the day, with an abridged commemoration service beginning at 11.30am, opening with the prologue by Mr Wills.
According to Mr Wills "(the emotion) was all still there. What it is meant to be. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the elements of today are carried on into the future."