Vietnam War veterans have led Melbourne’s Anzac Day march for the first time as thousands of people lined St Kilda Road to pay their respects to those who served in the defence forces.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, in which 108 Australian troops held off more than 1,500 Viet Cong soldiers.
Earlier, more than 40,000 people gathered in chilly conditions at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance for the Anzac Day dawn service.
Current serving Defence men and women, along with veterans of past conflicts, gathered with public to mark the 101st anniversary of the ill-fated landings at Gallipoli.
Thousands of people walked solemnly through the city and along St Kilda Road towards the shrine, which began about 5:40am.
Veteran Ross Wilson said seven generations of his family served, and it was humbling to see so many people turn out.
“Anzac Day is more Australia Day than Australia Day is,” he said.
Up to 13,000 people also gathered at Torquay, on the state’s surf coast, for a service at Point Danger, the largest gathering in Victoria outside Melbourne.
The service had been at risk of being cancelled due to a lack of funds to pay for the facilities and security to cater for the growing numbers.
The event went ahead only because of the contribution of businesses and members of the community.
A focus of the beachside service was to commemorate the innocent victims of war as well as those who served.
Local man Robert Jones said the spectacular location of the service added to the memorial.
“It’s a beautiful place and I think holding a commemoration like this in a beautiful place helps to embed the memory,” he said.
Ian Gilbank, president of the Torquay RSL Club agreed that part of the reason the Torquay service was so popular was because of the spectacular outlook.