Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: Penny Bradfield
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will fulfil a lifelong ambition when she attends the Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli this year.
She will join thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travelling to the peninsula to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the landing of troops at Anzac Cove.
As the government prepares to reveal details of how the centenary of Gallipoli will be marked in 2015, Ms Gillard said yesterday that Gallipoli was now a site of pilgrimage for every Australian and it was a journey ''I've wanted to make all my life''.
''We go to Gallipoli to see and to understand but mostly we go to bear witness now that the original Anzacs are gone,'' Ms Gillard said during a visit to the Australian War Memorial.
''Most go there in spirit, others who can travel go there in person to be present at the place and at the time when the story of courage and character which is Gallipoli began,'' she said.
Ms Gillard's visit to Gallipoli will be the first by an Australian PM since the visit by John Howard in 2005.
While funding for some Anzac centenary projects have already been unveiled, Ms Gillard said yesterday that significant announcements about the commemorations would be made soon.
As reported yesterday, the government is giving the war memorial $27 million to refurbish the First World War galleries.
The funding will allow the war memorial to have the project completed in time for the Anzac centenary in 2015.
She promised the memorial would be given adequate funding as the centenary approaches.
''We will deliver a program of commemoration that gives all Australians the opportunity to commemorate the centenary of Anzac in the most appropriate way possible,'' she said.
''I will be making further announcements in the coming weeks about the government's support for the centenary program but the work of commemoration begins here in this very sacred place today.''
The projects being recommended by the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, led by Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, are shaping up as Australia's largest commemorative program since the centenary of Federation.
One project already selected for funding is an Anzac interpretative centre in Albany, the last piece of Australia the Diggers saw as they sailed for Egypt to train before landing at Gallipoli and France.
Meanwhile, as well as the Anzac Day dawn service, Ms Gillard will attend services at the Australian memorial at Lone Pine and the New Zealand memorial at Chunuk Bair.
She will also hold talks with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two countries are partners in Afghanistan, and work closely in the G20, which Australia will host in 2014 and Turkey will host in 2015.
Ms Gillard will also visit Singapore, where she will discuss trade and defence issues with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore, in which more than 1000 Australians were killed or were missing in action and more than 15,000 Australians became prisoners of war.
The Opposition said the government was playing catch-up to match its commitment made 14 months ago on funding for the First World War galleries, some parts of which have not been changed since the 1940s.