Ballot for Gallipoli centenary draws 37,000 applications

Demand has overwhelmed organisers of the ballot for next year's Gallipoli centenary commemorations.

The ballot, which closed on Friday, attracted more than 37,000 applications from Australians and New Zealanders, for just 10,000 spots.

It is understood more than 30,000 Australians applied for 8000 spots, while more than 8100 New Zealanders applied for 2000 spots. Entrants will know by Anzac Day whether their application was successful.

A spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said final figures, including the average age of applicants and the breakdown of men and women, would be released soon.

Over the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign, 8709 Australians and 2721 New Zealanders were killed.

Monash University Australian studies historian Damien Williams, who has researched the motivations of Australians who retrace the steps of war veterans,said the motivations of those going to Gallipoli were different from those recreating the journeys of World War II.

Many people returned to Papua New Guinea and other World War II front lines to honour their family members, he said. But with most having no living family members linking them to Gallipoli, Dr Williams believed a collective Australian history was more a motivating factor.

This included the still-influential Peter Weir film, Gallipoli. And, he said, the role of government should not be underestimated; the extensive planning for next year's centenary may have sparked many people to sign up for the ballot.

"It's not always a simple and organic phenomenon; it's something that governments and bureaucrats and decision makers actively influence."

A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman said it was the first time the government had had to run a ballot.

There will be 400 double passes available for direct descendants of Gallipoli veterans, 400 double passes for veterans of overseas service, 200 double passes for schoolchildren and their chaperones and 3000 double passes in the general ballot area.

The government has also invited 160 widows of WWI veterans to be included, with their fares to be paid by the government.

 

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