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Video clip synopsis – A small lifeboat, retrieved from the shores of Gallipoli, is a direct link to the first Anzacs and the day that helped forge Australia’s identity.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 5min 0sec
Tags - ANZAC, Australian History, commemoration, Gallipoli, heritage, World War 1, see all tags


Gallipoli Boat

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About the Video Clip


Gallipoli Boat is an episode of the series National Treasures produced in 2004.

Gallipoli Boat
How did a lifeboat, left to rot on the shores of Gallipoli, come to have pride of place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra? Curator John White tells the story of this little boat’s tumultuous journey as Warren Brown helps us imagine what it was like for those first Anzacs on the day that helped forge Australia’s identity.

National Treasures
Take a road-trip of discovery with the irrepressible Warren Brown – political cartoonist, columnist and history “tragic” – as he reveals a fascinating mix of national treasures drawn from public and private collections across Australia. On its own, each treasure is a priceless snapshot of an historic moment. Together, they illustrate the vitality and uniqueness of the Australian experience.

National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


Historical knowledge and understanding
Historical reasoning and interpretation

Historical knowledge and understanding — Students analyse the impact of some key wars and conflicts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Historical reasoning and interpretation — students frame research questions and locate relevant resources, including contemporary media and online resources. They identify, comprehend and evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources, including visual sources and use historical conventions such as footnotes and bibliographies to document sources. They critically evaluate sources of evidence for context, information, reliability, completeness, objectivity and bias. They recognise that in history there are multiple perspectives and partial explanations. They use appropriate historical language and concepts in historical explanations. They use evidence to support arguments and select and use appropriate written and oral forms to communicate develop historical explanations in a variety of oral, written and electronic forms.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


In 1915 Australian troops were part of an Allied landing at Gallipoli, Turkey.

The aim was to open a way for Allied ships to attack Constantinople, thereby allowing supply ships to help Russia in its fight against Germany. Turkey, an ally of Germany, controlled the Straits of the Dardanelles, stopping supply ships from entering the Black Sea and sailing to the main Russian port of Odessa. Allied troops would land at Gallipoli, move overland and capture the Turkish guns that were overlooking the Straits, and then Allied ships could sail through safely to bombard and capture Constantinople, forcing Turkey to surrender.

This was the first engagement of the war in which Australian troops had been involved in large numbers as part of an international group — it was commonly seen as their ‘test’ as a nation.

The invasion troops were brought into the area on naval ships, then loaded on lifeboats, and rowed silently into shore during darkness, just before dawn.

The result was a disaster. The landing troops did not manage to move up from the coast to seize the Turkish guns, and naval ships that tried to force their way up the Straits were sunk by mines. However, stories sent back from the landing by British and Australian journalists praised the fighting qualities of the Australian troops — they had passed the test.

Nine months after the landing, all Allied troops were withdrawn.

Despite the tactical failure of the landing, it has been commemorated ever since in Australia as our most significant national day, with ANZAC Day becoming a nationally observed day since 1927.

Classroom Activities

  1. Understanding the video clip
    1. What is this boat?
    2. Why is it in the Australian War Memorial?
    3. What was its role at Gallipoli?
    4. What happened to it?
    5. When was it brought back to Australia?
    6. The boat had to be partly wrecked to bring it back — should this have been done, or should it have been left where it was as a memorial there?
  2. Exploring issues raised in the video clip
    ANZAC Day has not always been as popular as it is today. Here is a set headings for ideas that help explain why changes have occurred to the perception and meaning of ANZAC Day over time.
    Divide these among the class, research the meaning of each, and briefly describe how each might explain the popularity or lack of popularity of ANZAC Day in the Australian community.
    You should present these in a chronological sequence.
    1. 75th Anniversary of the Landing
    2. A need for a myth
    3. A new nation from 1901
    4. The ANZACs were a representative group
    5. Anzac Day 1916
    6. Attendance at ceremonies today
    7. Australia Remembers
    8. Behaviour of the troops at Gallipoli
    9. Death of the last Gallipoli ANZACs and World War I Diggers
    10. Film Gallipoli
    11. Modern Peacekeeping
    12. National day since 1927
    13. Post-Vietnam — Welcome Home
    14. The One Day of the Year play by Douglas Stewart
    15. The Unknown Australian Soldier
    16. Vietnam War
    17. Western Front in World War I
    18. World War 2.
      You can compare your ideas and information with those at the RSL site. Go to Explore History 1980s/1990s/2000s decades.
  3. Imagine that you are an outsider, a visitor to Australia, and here during an ANZAC Day. You have to try and understand what it is about, and what ‘messages’ about Australia it gives. Does ANZAC Day now apply to all Australians – to men, women, children, people of different ethnic origins, recent migrants? Is it an all-encompassing day? Carry out a survey of the day. Consider such things as:
    1. Who is actively involved
    2. Who watches
    3. Where events are focused
    4. What words are used about them
    5. What symbols are present
    6. What music is associated with the day
    7. How it is commented on by the media
    8. What ideas are associated with it.
  4. Australia has other national days – such as Australia Day and the Queen’s Birthday. Some have suggested that we should celebrate other days – such as Mabo Day and Federation Day.
    In groups look at these existing and proposed days, and present a report on why each might be considered a desirable and appropriate national day. Do any of them galvanise the community in the same way that ANZAC Day does? Are they possible substitutes? Is there something special about ANZAC Day?
  5. Every ANZAC Day now we see a major media focus on the event, including the ceremony from ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli. Increasingly, young people seem to be part of the Gallipoli ceremony.
    Look at this extract from a book about young people today and Gallipoli. The author is interviewing a young woman named Kate at Gallipoli on ANZAC Day (25 April) 2000
    [Today when we were walking around [Gallipoli battlefields] I just had tears in my eyes the whole time … it was really moving and it’s , it’s like a Mecca basically, like a pilgrimage for Australians … [L]ook around you, there’s a fair few people here and you don’t get that many people coming together [for nothing]. I think to me it’s a spiritual thing, definitely. I didn’t come here to party. I came here to commemorate what [the ANZACs] did, what they did for us … I think … the majority of people [here think that] as well.
    Quoted in Bruce Scates, Return to Gallipoli, CUP, Melbourne, 2006 page 197
    What do you think is the relevance of ANZAC Day for you and your generation?
  6. Would you go to Gallipoli? Would you go to a World War 2 site, such as Kokoda? Is there still something special about Gallipoli? Explain your reasons.

Further Resources


For more National Treasures and video clips go to Investigating National Treasures