Friday, 3 May 2013

Final Thoughts

As I write this final entry, we are currently winging our way home to Australia. We imbue names with such meaning and it is the notion of what it means to be an Australian that I believe our students, through their participation in this tour, have arrived at a deeper understanding.

It begins with their decision to have the courage to apply and believe that they have the necessary character traits that will see them through. Australians are optimistic by nature. Their leadership skills are developed through hard work and commitment to raise the necessary funds to embark on this journey. These skills learnt will be beneficial to our nation as these young people become adults and take up the mantle of leadership within their communities. They know that hard work and sacrifice are worthy goals in themselves. It is this aspect of the tour that is the most satisfying and important feature to me as a teacher at Collie Senior High School. 

As an educational venture, the tour has so many benefits. The knowledge that the students gain about Australia's involvement in WW1 is truly remarkable in its depth and detail, which is only further extended by walking the ground where it actually happened. The students gain an appreciation for the difficulties faced by our Diggers, their strength and determination to prove themselves to the world as Australians and how those men realised that our land had bred a character and culture that was uniquely our own.

The enormity of the conflict becomes apparent to the students as they realise the shocking cost that was inflicted upon all sides and the sad and terrible loss of nearly an entire generation of Australians. The students took great pride to learn their poems, read at the graves and memorials of family members and other significant places, and showed the utmost respect and dignity on all occasions. I was ever so proud of them all.

Their interest and willingness to ask questions of our guides about the battles and places they saw demonstrated just how motivated and moved by the stories they heard. This was commented on by our guide in France and Belgium, Mr Colin Gillard of Cobbers Tours, who said that the students were an extremely positive and interested group. This is testament to his skill and professionalism and ability to impart knowledge to all in a way that brings alive the history in the peaceful countryside of the Somme and Flanders. The tour would not be the same without his in depth knowledge and we thank him for his continued association with Collie SHS.

A feature of the tour is our insistence on providing an educational experience. Most Australians who attended this year's Dawn Service at Gallipoli, arrived during the night and left after the service at Lone Pine, having seen little and without much of a context as to what really happened during the eight months the Anzacs battled the Turks. We return two days later for a fully guided tour, again by a specialist and professional, Mr Izzet Yildiri who provided an in depth analysis of the campaign from both sides point of view and showed us around all of the significant places. Again our deepest thanks are extended to him.

Our students have learnt so much. As a group they were united as mates can only be. The bonds formed during this trip will last a lifetime along with the memories. They have been fantastic ambassadors for our town and nation and Australians everywhere commented on how wonderful it was to see them in uniform and engaged in what they were doing. Turkish people would smile and say "Anzac" evincing the bond that has formed between our two nations. It was great to see the students immersing themselves in the cultures that they were exposed to, whether it was language, food or custom. They were prepared to give things a go. Another Australian trait.

A tour like this does not happen without a great deal of input from many people. The parents and families of the students were wonderful in their support of the students and aims of the tour.

The Collie community for its generosity and support were as always outstanding and it is a feature of our town that few outside it realise and something we need to hang on to. Collie is the embodiment of a great Australian country town.

The parent volunteers, Anthea Abbott, Lisa Gillespie, Kellye Thompson, Rod Salmeri and Wayne Sanford were a wonderful and dedicated bunch of people who made my job that much easier through their willingness to dig in and do everything necessary, with humour and camaraderie, to keep our students safe and well looked after. They provided guidance and support to the students when needed on a range of issues that they encountered as young adults travelling in faraway places. I thank them truly as compatriots who shared with me in witnessing the growth and development of this great bunch of young Australians.

To Jeremy De Vos, our RSL veteran who was always in great humour and, dare I say it, voice (it must have been quiet down at the RSL!) as he freely did everything possible to help and assist all on the tour. He always made sure to be the last of the party, shepherding all before him and shared his knowledge of the services and its history with the students. Nothing was too much for Jeremy to do and he proudly represented the Collie-Cardiff RSL. Thank you Jeremy it was great to have you aboard.

The staff who assisted me; Dale Miller, Jodie Hanns, Joy Walkerden, John Bylund and Dave Washbourne. I had a wonderful  team behind me who took initiative and leadership whenever it was required both in the organisation and conducting of the tour. All played significant parts in making this tour a reality and a success. Thank you guys it was a pleasure to share the experience with you all.

To the school and the Principal, Mr Domenic Camera, who supported the tour and recognised the value and importance of it. This program marks our school as one of the best in Western Australia that strives to value add to education. It could not be possible without the assistance of so many within the school. A special thank you to the office ladies who sigh every time they see me but still do all they can to help. They truly are good sports. Collie SHS provides an educational experience second to none in a range of areas and I commend those parents who have made the decision to send their children to Collie.

To my wife and family who put up with me and the time the tour takes from them with me. Without their support and understanding there would be no tour and they alone are the only casualties of the tour. With love and gratitude I thank them.

Finally to the students themselves. A wonderful bunch of students who earned the right to go but still felt it a privilege. They have proved themselves to the world and I thank them deeply for their commitment, attitude, energy and behaviour. I challenge them to take what they have learned into the future and make real the promise and leadership that we all see in them.

I will leave you with the last poem we say on the tour which was written by Steven Davies on the very first Anzac tour in 2007.

Thank you,
Ed Croft

Memories of War by Steven Davies

We made a monumental journey
Where history does abound.
Over several continents of our world
We walked the battle ground.
The horror of war has hit us hard
What a lucky group we are.
We come in peace and lay a wreath
For the lives that were lost afar.
It was not their land they fought for
They were fighting under orders.
But grave sites show their bodies lay
Within another country's borders.
On the Western Front the battle raged
In Belgium and in France.
They gave their lives for us that live
To halt their foe's advance.
The people there honour them well
For each night the bugle sounds.
Lest we forget, we all do say
As the Last Post greets their town.
This morning we gather at Anzac Cove
Many thousand kindred soul.
To pay our last respects to the fallen men
Who's bells no longer toll.
We walked amongst the monuments
And read upon the grave.
The senseless loss of such young life
When we visualise their age.
For we are already older
Than some of them that died.
Some of us have gently wept
Most of us have cried.
We feel your spirits on these shores
You will never be alone.
But we leave you now to rest in peace
The fortunate- go home.

Pre-dawn Galliploli 2007

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Day 18

Today is our last day touring Istanbul, starting with our final Turkish breakfast before heading out to our Bosphoros cruise. Other than hectic traffic and busy streets, our journey to the docks was interrupted by the 'May Day' protesters. As well as this hindrance, the group were also halted by water police when attempting to leave the dock, and although minor delays had occurred, we were soon on our way, only to be baffled by the wondrous scenery of the Bosphoros. The sea was rather choppy, and had an affect on some of the tour group members who were struck ill with the debilitating effects of sea sickness. Oh and not to mention a dodgy toilet on board the boat, which required the user to wash their hands using a bucket full of water. The cruise lasted roughly two fantastic hours before we returned back to the hotel to complete our packing.

We then headed out for lunch at a nearby kebab shop, where we enjoyed a variety of kebabs, pitas and freshly made juices; delicious! After lunch some of the group decided to make their way to the Spice Markets, for the last time, whilst others headed back to the hotel to enjoy their last few hours relaxing and packing, before the long awaited flight.

We are now at the end of our amazing tour. We are just about to head to the Istanbul airport where we will make our way home to Australia. Memories have been made that will never be forgotten, and friends made that will never be lost. Thank you for your support throughout our journey, and we can't wait to see you tomorrow afternoon back in Perth!!!

By Courtney.S and Travis

Day 17 Photos

For more pictures of the tour please visit Mr Bylund's photo blog at

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Day 17

Today was our second last day on tour and the realisation of this made us make the most of every minute of the day, cramming as much in as possible. We began by making our way to the Hagia Sophia Museum. The Hagia Sophia was initially a Roman Catholic Church built in the 560's but in 1453 it was taken over by the Ottomans and turned into a mosque. Because of its enormity we were not surprised to learn that it has the 5th largest dome in the world. The group was blown away by the building's beauty and amazing workmanship that went into the mosaics that created the pictures covering the walls.

We then hopped on the tram, which was more cramped than the Metro in Paris, and made our way to the Funicular, which took us to Taksim Square, known as the political heart of Turkey. It was from here that we walked down a 3km mall full of shops! Mr Croft only gave the group an hour to get to the end of the street and this proved not to be long enough for some of us. Although it gave Ms Miller and Mrs Hanns' groups enough time to enjoy a Starbucks coffee and cake. After a recharge Ms Miller went into the Adidas shop and bought a pair of new joggers! The sales lady was so surprised at how quickly she picked the shoes- so were we!

After the group had made the trek down the street to the Galata Tower and Megan had copped a soccer ball to the face, thanks to Lucas, we made our way to a restaurant located under the Galata Bridge. This restaurant's speciality was fish so most of the group ordered fish! Luckily Tahlia did not as she took one look at Lisa and Kyah's and had to make a run for the toilet to spew!! The rest of lunch was very entertaining as the waiters were extremely friendly but the fish was served with scales, which some of the group didnt know and ended up with a mouthful of scales- YUK! 

To finish off the afternoon we (of course) had to do some last minute shopping at the Spice Markets. Here we were able to buy Turkish delight and every spice imaginable. The markets also sold Turkish tea cup sets and this brought out the cultural side in some of the boys. Now they cannot wait to get home and have a tea party with their Turkish Tea Sets. After our shopping spree we walked back to the hotel to start packing our bags! 

Being our last night on tour Mr Croft booked an extremely extravagant and fancy restaurant called the Sarnic Restaurant, which was was once used as a cistern. We enjoyed some delicious food and some beautiful live music played by a man on the piano. Tahlia also thought she would change things up a bit and order her dessert for entree and of course this worked quite well for her. With Fraser and myself (Megan) scoring Mr Crofts choice of restaurant, he ended up with a total score of 70 out of 70. All the food was amazing and we gave bonus points for the entertainment. This makes Crofty the winner of My Tour's Restaurant Rules and we believe that was very well deserved, he has been wonderful. Now everyone is getting ready for a good night's sleep for a big day tomorrow.

By Fraser and Megan

For more pictures of the tour please visit Mr Bylund's photo blog at

Monday, 29 April 2013

Day 16 Photos


For more pictures of the tour please visit Mr Bylund's photo blog at