By Luke Voogt and Natalee Kerr
About 17,000 people attended Geelong and Torquay Anzac Day dawn services this morning to pay their respects to those who served.
Geelong and District Vietnam Veterans Association president Rieny Nieuwenhof estimated about 7000 people attended the dawn service at Eastern Beach.
“They were really impressed with the whole presentation,” he said.
Cristian College choir sang at the ceremony, and singer Vin Healy and violinist Matiss Schubert performed their original tribute to soldiers that fought on the Kokoda Trail.
“They gave a fantastic rendition of a song they wrote about the 39th Battalion,” Mr Nieuwenhof said.
Former RAAF medics Peter and Helen Jager and their daughter Natasha, a Navy Reserve lieutenant, paid tribute to nurses, medics and doctors who served.
“It was very much about the medical contingents and how they assisted wounded soldiers in various wars, from Gallipoli to Afghanistan,” Mr Nieuwenhof said.
Their speech also paid tribute to ‘Weary’ Dunlop, a surgeon famous for defying his Japanese captors and helping fellow POWs survive during World War II.
The waterfront service provided an alternative for those who could not make it to Torquay, Mr Nieuwenhof said.
“We don’t want to detract from the Point Danger service but rather compliment it.
“We’re just providing the people of Geelong an alternative and obviously, by the turn out they appreciate that.”
Adults and children shook hands with veterans and current defence personal after the ceremony to thank them for their service to Australia.
About 10,000 people attended the traditional Anzac Day service at Point Danger, according Torquay RSL president Bob Tyler.
“It was great to see all the young people there today,” Mr Tyler said.
“I’d say on a ratio about 40 per cent of people there were definitely younger.
“Young people are definitely interested in it, and we’ve seen that at the schools as well through our programs that we run around ANZAC day.
“I think the community support here in Torquay is really strong.”