Riverway Stadium will host the Anzac Day dawn service on April 25, allowing the community to take part in the event while also complying with COVID safe requirements.

The Townsville and Thuringowa RSL sub-branches announced the details of the event today.

Townsville RSL sub-branch president Bill Whitburn OAM said cities and towns across Australia were changing long-held Anzac Day commemoration traditions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brisbane’s traditional Anzac Day parade, for example, will be scaled back to an invitation only event featuring a parade of banners at the RNA Showgrounds.

“Last year, with tough restrictions on gatherings to stop the spread of COVID, the Townsville and Thuringowa RSL sub-branches, with the support of Townsville City Council, presented a broadcast of the Anzac Day Dawn Service so locals could honour the brave servicemen and women who died for Australia’s cause in wars and armed conflicts,” Mr Whitburn said.

“Thankfully, restrictions on large gatherings have eased however and the roll-out of the COVID vaccine has started. However, we are still required to ensure events comply with COVID-Safe requirements set by the Chief Health Officer.

“The local RSL sub-branches, council officers and other stakeholders have been working together for some time to come up with a plan that allows us to host events while abiding by the rules and I think we have achieved that.”

Hosting the Dawn Service at Riverway will allow close to 8,000 people to attend.

A temporary cenotaph will be erected on the oval along with seating for around 6,000 guests. Further seating will be available in the grandstand and on the north and south hills.

The event will be ticketed in line with COVID contact tracing requirements. Tickets will be made available to ex-servicemen and woman and their families, the RSL and representatives of support organisations. Any tickets remaining will be made available to the public on a first come, first served basis. There will be an announcement to the community over the coming weeks as to when tickets will be available and how to book.

Thuringowa RSL sub-branch president Jeremy Browne said members of the public would also be able to watch a live broadcast of the event through the Townsville City Council website.

Mr Browne said details of the event may be revised following the release of further advice from the Chief Health Officer, and any changes would be communicated to the community.

“While we are finalising our plans, we also need to be very mindful that the threat from COVID is very real and even the best laid plans may need to be altered in order and keep the community safe,” Mr Browne said.

Mayor Jenny Hill said Townsville was a proud garrison city and Council was honoured to support the Townsville and Thuringowa RSL sub-branches to deliver Anzac Day events for the community.

“Townsville is a proud garrison city and Anzac Day is especially important to us,” Cr Hill said.

“Each year Council proudly supports the Townsville and Thuringowa RSL sub-branches to deliver Anzac Day events for the community.

“We didn’t let COVID stop us paying our respects to those who have served our country last year and it won’t this year.”

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