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Anzac Day dawns cold and wet

An estimated 35,000 people gather at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance for the Anzac Day dawn service.

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

An estimated 35,000 people gathered beneath a canopy of umbrellas for a cold, wet Anzac Day dawn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

Crowds brave miserable conditions to pay their respects at the dawn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

Crowds brave miserable conditions to pay their respects at the dawn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance. Photo: Penny Stephens

Many young people joined the crowd packed around the eternal flame and facing a shrine lit against a black, pre-dawn sky.

Follow our live video coverage of the service at Anzac Cove from midday.

Rain driven by a blustery and bitter southerly wind had attendees huddled deep into coats and scarves. The temperature at 6am was 10 degrees, just above the overnight minimum, but feeling more like six degrees, according to the weather bureau.

A sea of umbrellas as thousands pay their respects in the city.

A sea of umbrellas as thousands pay their respects in the city. Photo: Penny Stephens

The crowd was lower than the expected 45,000 for the traditional 6am service, which marks the 97th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

"We are very impressed and happy with the turn out, especially considering the weather," Shrine of Remembrance marketing officer Lana Epshteyn said.

"So many people have braved the cold and wet conditions to be here today."

A serviceman pays tribute in front of the ANZAC Cenotaph at Martin Place in Sydney this morning.

A serviceman pays tribute in front of the ANZAC Cenotaph at Martin Place in Sydney this morning. Photo: Getty

Both serving and ex-service men and women were among the crowd. Dignitaries include Premier Ted Baillieu and Victorian Governor Alex Chernov.

Jeff Cocks arrived at the shrine just after 5am to remember his grandfather, Allan, a  prisoner-of war of the Japanese at the hellish Changi in Singapore.

''I've been coming here for a number of years,'' he said. ''The crowd has definitely grown. People have embraced the spirit.''

People, some in sleeping bags, gather for the dawn service in Canakkale, Turkey.

People, some in sleeping bags, gather for the dawn service in Canakkale, Turkey. Photo: Getty

Later, he planned to go the football with his father, another Anzac Day family tradition.

Kaye and Peter Pinchen travelled from Langwarrin, in Melbourne's south-east.

''My dad died a couple of years ago. I'm here for him,'' said Kaye, attending her first shrine service. Her father served in the Second World War - ''he was thirty-niner (a 1939 volunteer)'' - in the Middle East and Greece.

Veterans, dignitaries and members of the public stand around the Cenotaph at the Auckland War Memorial Museum during the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

Veterans, dignitaries and members of the public stand around the Cenotaph at the Auckland War Memorial Museum during the ANZAC Day Dawn Service. Photo: Getty

Ten-year-old Methodist Ladies College student Alexia Moss was at the service as part of a school assignment.

''I'm interested in finding out about the Anzac soldiers and why we remember them,'' she said.

Andrea Stanley proudly wore the medals her grandfather earned on the airfields in Darwin in World War II. Today's service was the 17th Andrea has attended, in what has become a family tradition.

An official waits for the Anzac Parade to start in Melbourne. Click for more photos

Anzac Day in Melbourne

An official waits for the Anzac Parade to start in Melbourne. Photo: Angela Wylie

''It's an eerie, lovely service. It's simple and not jazzed up. We love it,'' she said.

Adem Sahinovic, of Fitzroy, said he had attended shrine dawn services for as long as he couold remember and was at the shrine this morning wearing four service medals from infantry tours in East Timor in 2000 and 2004.

He said Anzac Day was an important event for all Australians.

"The Australian identity was forged in Gallipoli,’’ he said.

It also reminds Australians about men and women still serving their country. They are out in the cold like this, working in formidable conditions.’’

In a few hours, Mr Sahinovic will reunite with fellow servicemen over a beer at a Royal Australian Army Regiment Association gathering at a city hotel.

Tom Denovan, 11, from Kew East, was rugged up in a rain jacket and a Bombers scarf at his first dawn service.

"I really wanted to come here to see the (eternal) flame,’’ he said. Tom’s great-grandfather served in France in World War I.

Just over a week ago, 16-year-old Georgia Lee, from Footscray, was tracing the steps of the Anzacs at Gallipoli as one of 10 students who wrote winning essays in the Victorian Premier’s Spirit of the Anzac Prize.

"It was the experience of a lifetime,’’ she said. ‘‘We went down the gullies and up the hills, following the steps of the Anzacs."

This morning’s service was just as special for the University High student, whose grandfather fought in PNG and the Middle East during World War II.

‘‘The silence was pretty spectacular,’’ she said of the shrine gathering

The sacrifices of Australians in war were remembered at services and marches in cities and towns across the country.

About 25,000 gathered at Canberra’s war memorial at 5.30am, while across NSW, the courage and sacrifice of indigenous warriors are set to be given particular recognition this year, with sub-branches of the RSL conducting special ceremonies.

In Perth, Australian defence forces will lead a parade of veterans, the ex-service unit, corps and regimental associations, as well as crews from four visiting US Navy ships.

About 8000 were expected in Anzac Square at dawn in Brisbane, while in Adelaide a big crowd is gathering around the war memorial where cadets have kept watch for 12 hours in an annual traditional.

For the first time, Adelaide shops are allowed to open their doors from midday after historic changes to the state’s retail trading laws.

In Hobart, Governor Peter Underwood lay wreaths and lead the dawn service and in Darwin, the service is followed by a march.
Overseas, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is at Anzac Cove and Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Afghanistan.

- with AAP