Aussies honour the fallen at Gallipoli
PATRIOTIC Australians are defying heightened global terrorism fears as they make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to pay their respects to the fallen on Anzac Day.
More than 1300 Australians will attend Thursday's Dawn Service as Turkish authorities beef up security in the wake of two major terror attacks.
Despite mounting safety fears, the Federal Government said the attendance was at least 200 more than last year's crowd while bookings were still being made on Wednesday night.
Those travelling to Turkey have not been deterred by last weekend's Easter Sunday bomb blasts in Sri Lanka and the recent Christchurch massacre.
Following the New Zealand massacre of Muslims, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stoked diplomatic tensions with inflammatory comments last month that he would send Australian tourists "back in coffins''.
Turkish authorities have banned locals from attending services while police have established road blocks on major roads - up to 50km away - around the Gallipoli peninsula. Every car will be searched and drivers questioned.
Major General Mark Kelly, the most senior Department of Veterans' Affairs official travelling to Turkey, said Mr Erdogan's comments did not reflect his experiences of the Turkish people.
"That's an unfortunate comment by that man and really we saw an increase in the number of registrations following that so it didn't deter our young Australians and New Zealanders from wanting to come here,'' he said at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.
"I don't think it's necessarily a comment that is reflected in the way that we are warmly welcomed here in Turkey each year.''
Major General Kelly, the Dawn Service's master of ceremonies, said "several thousand'' Turkish police, soldiers and jandarma would be protecting the service.
Airport style security will also be used, which has been successfully used previously.
Veterans' Affairs minister Darren Chester defended the Turkey nationals ban, which has been in place in previous years.
Government figures show more than 1300 Australians are due to attend the dawn service this morning, which was up on last year's attendance but down on the highs of the 100th
The Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Campbell, has also travelled to Turkey.
Officials said the traditional Dawn Service and memorial at the Lone Pine would go ahead despite fears terrorists would target attendees.
Turkish people who spoke to News Corp in nearby villages said they welcomed Australians, despite the President's comments which drew fierce criticism from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Omer Dundar, 33, was visiting Gallipoli from Istanbul with his wife Arzu, 33, and children Yunus, 6, and Mehmet, 4, to learn about the history there.
"The ANZAC people, they did not know why they were coming to Turkey, a lot of people who came to Turkey didn't know why they were fighting here," he said.
"We have come here because its important to know our history. We have a common culture with Australia."
He said the local people in the Bigali village, near Anzac Cove, wanted Australians to keep coming to Gallipoli.
"They told me they want to see Australians coming, they are very happy when Australians are coming," he said.
"UK people, they don't come to visit this village."
The Gallipoli campaign, under the direction of British forces, was one of the worst in Australian military history, with more than 8000 deaths in the nine-month engagement.