As a 2014 recipient of the Enid Dowling Foundation Bursary, I have now commenced a six month internship in The Hague. The Hague is the seat of government in the Netherlands and is also known as the Legal Capital of the World and the International City of Peace and Justice. I will provide a more detailed post about my internship soon.
While living in The Hague, as well as travelling throughout the Netherlands, I will take the opportunity to undertake self-funded travel to other countries in Europe on weekends. I am keen to learn more about each country’s political system and their ties to Australia.
I undertook my first trip of this nature last weekend when I visited the Somme Valley in Northern France to attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.
Our party (which included two other Australians and one Canadian) visited the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge on the way to our accommodation in Saint-Quentin. Touring the preserved trenches and underground tunnels in this area gave us some insight into the living conditions the soldiers endured here during WWI.
Attending the Anzac Day Dawn Service with around 8000 others at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux the next day was a very moving and solemn experience. The 25th of April not only marks the commencement of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, it also marks the day that Australian soldiers liberated the French town of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918.
Australian Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP gave the commemorative address which highlighted how profound and far reaching the Anzac legacy has been and reminded us that one hundred years on, Australian and New Zealand soldiers again join together to defend our interests at home and abroad. Queensland Senator Ian MacDonald also laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian Senate.
We spent the next two days travelling to various towns in the region and visiting some of the memorials that make up the Circuit of Remembrance. The Somme 1916 Museum in the town of Albert provided a good overview of the contributions made by each country that was a member of the allied forces in the region. The presence of Australian flags, memorials and commemorative church plaques in many towns throughout the Somme Valley provides a clear indication that the ties between Australia and France in this part of the world remain strong.