Flying the flag ... Gallipoli's Anzac Cove has become an annual pilgrammage for Australians.

Flying the flag ... Gallipoli's Anzac Cove has become an annual pilgrimage for Australians. Photo: Peny Bradfield

THOUSANDS of Australians and New Zealanders have made the annual pilgrimage to Gallipoli for today's dawn service, to be attended by a prime minister for the first time in seven years.

Just three years shy of the centenary of the ill-fated landings at Anzac Cove, Julia Gillard will use her first visit to urge people to dwell on the broader lessons learnt from its most famous military defeat.

She will address the dawn ceremony at Anzac Cove and then speak at a separate ceremony at Lone Pine, the scene of a savage three-day battle in August 1915.

With preparations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the landings under way, Ms Gillard will say at Lone Pine it was Gallipoli that forged Australia as a federation.

''Victory was not gained here but meaning was won in this place, and a harsh learning,'' she will say.

As Ms Gillard flew in last night, busloads of Australians and New Zealanders were making the five-hour trip from Istanbul to the peninsula.

Sam Marlow and Simone Miller are from Brisbane but they have made the trip from London, where they now live. Mr Marlow had two great uncles at Gallipoli, one of whom died there, while Ms Miller's grandfather was there. For both, it was their first visit.

''We just want to come and pay our respects,'' sad Mr Marlow.

Ms Gillard will say that what arrived on April 25, 1915, as the Australian Imperial Force, was transformed over ''240 days of hell'' into the Anzacs.

''Unlike their French and British comrades, who held aloft battle honours like Austerlitz or Waterloo, the Anzacs had no tradition to rely on or defend,'' she will say. ''They did something greater, they created one.''

Ms Gillard will say the spirit and ethos of Federation, just 14 years old at the time, were sealed.

''This was our first act of nationhood in the eyes of a watching world, authored not by statesmen or diplomats, but by simple soldiers.

''Their presence here in Turkey was not only a manifestation of duty, but an expression of citizenship.''

Lone Pine, she will point out, was such a vicious battle that seven of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded at Gallipoli were won at Lone Pine.

Ms Gillard cautions against glorifying any individual battle or the campaign, which cost 8700 Australian lives.

''Like the campaign as a whole, [Lone Pine] was a story of occasional success but ultimate frustration. So today we come here not in triumph.

''Victory was unlikely on these shores: a test the Anzacs were never going to pass. They passed a greater and more enduring test. We are not ashamed of you because no shame can exist in this place.''

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