Chapter 2 - The need for roadworks and the
involvement of Australian authorities
recognises that the partially completed roadworks at Brighton Beach, ANZAC Cove and North Beach were urgently needed. It identifies several factors
contributing to the decay of the coastal road, including erosion, lack of
adequate repair work in the past, and the increased volume of traffic over the
past five years. Even critics of the impact of the recent roadworks acknowledge
that without major repair work, both the coastal road and the road from Chunuk Bair to Lone Pine posed some threat to public safety.
presented to the Committee was unanimous that the roads around Gallipoli Peninsula were in need of repair. The continuing popularity of
ANZAC Day commemorations has increased the volume of traffic on these roads,
particularly coach traffic from the north of ANZAC Cove. The number of visitors
attending the 25 April ceremony at ANZAC Cove has increased from roughly 10,000
people in 2002 and 2003, to an estimated 18,000 in 2004 and 17,000 in 2005. The Committee heard evidence that
hundreds of coaches used the roads on and around ANZAC Day.
The roads on the
peninsula are also crumbling from erosion, poor construction and lack of past
repair work. The Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Mr
Mark Sullivan, asserted that Australian authorities often expressed
concerns to the Turkish Government that the coastal road was unsafe. The
Committee is unaware of any evidence supporting this assertion, until after the
event. Mr Sullivan noted the 'professional view that there has been
horizontal erosion at ANZAC Cove of approximately 10 metres'. He added, 'my
major concern was that buses...were going past each other on a road that was
crumbling into the sea'.
authorities also appear to have held these concerns. The Committee received a
submission from a Turkish-born Australian citizen, Mr
Vecihi Basarin, who had spoken to the Turkish authorities
responsible for the roadworks. Mr
Basarin wrote that the authorities had told him their
concerns that one of the buses full of school children or tourists would be
involved in a road collapse into the sea.
heard evidence that the road from Chunuk Bair down to Lone Pine was also in urgent need of repair. Mr
Sullivan noted that the road is highly arched, and 'the
prospect of something disastrous occurring is very real'. The Director of the Australian Office
of War Graves, Air Vice Marshal Gary Beck (retired), also noted the 'very high crown' on the
Chunuk Bair to Lone Pine road, which made two-way coach access
Beck further claimed that the connecting road from the
Kemalyeri Memorial to Chunuk Bair is 'very old narrow bitumen'. In the past, the
difficulty of passing parked coaches on this road meant that 'hundreds of
coaches were not even getting to Lone Pine or Chunuk Bair for the Service'.
William Sellars, an Australian writer who has resided on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the town of Eceabat for the past three years, gave evidence to the
Committee by teleconference in Turkey. While a prominent critic of the roadworks, he has
recognised that both the coastal road and the Chunuk Bair to Lone Pine road were breaking up, and posed safety
and environmental concerns. Mr
Sellars did note that at one point above ANZAC Cove, there
had been 'some collapsing of the road'. However, he claimed this condition was
attributed to the collapse of a culvert built by the Turkish state 'many years
In terms of the
use of the coastal road, Mr
Sellars argued that it is not heavily used except the week
around ANZAC Day. However, there have been conflicting media reports. On 6 March 2005, The Age
reported that 'more than 2 million Turks are expected to visit the area this
year'. The article quoted Australian
tour operator, Bernina Gezici, as saying:
the road wasn't
built because of the people coming for ANZAC Day—it was built because more and
more Turks are coming to celebrate what was for them a historic victory.
In his written
submission, however, Mr Sellars states that most Turkish tour groups do not visit the
coastal strip as 'there is only one Turkish monument in this region'. He added, 'the argument that the road
had to be upgraded due to the weight of visitor numbers is not sound'.
Sellars agreed that construction on the Chunuk Bair to Lone Pine road was 'definitely necessary', but
added that 'any widening of the road from its original width would be
unnecessary'. In evidence to the Committee, Mr
Sellars claimed that widening this road on the scale that was
conducted at ANZAC Cove would risk exhuming bones, and the tunnels and trenches
still intact from the 1915 campaign.
The Australian Government's request for roadworks on the Peninsula
Access to the
ANZAC site has long been a matter of concern to the Australian Government. Each
year, when officials prepare for the ANZAC Day ceremony, discussions on traffic
arrangements are held, centring on the adequacy of the existing network, and
options for improving access for visitors. Road improvement has long been
central to Australian concerns.
In this context,
the letter dated 2 August 2004 from the (then) Australian Minister for
Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon. Danna Vale MP, to the Turkish Minister for
Environment and Forests, His Excellency Mr Osman Pepe, is of particular
significance. Minister Vale’s letter proposed several 'improvements' to the ANZAC Commemorative Park, given an expected increase in visitor numbers for
the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Canakkale.
The letter argued
that further improvements to access roads were necessary ‘to ensure safety of
if Ridge Road
past Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair
to the Kemalyeri Memorial could be widened, it would enable two-way or passing
traffic to flow again and would ease the considerable delays in coach
departures after the services.
letter also recommended construction work to be undertaken on the coastal road:
turnaround facility for coaches, north of the Commonwealth War Graves
Commission maintenance area, would be a most useful addition. Such a facility
may solve the problem of having visitors walk many kilometres to attend the
dawn service. A turnaround facility constructed adjacent to the Ari
would similarly prove most useful in resolving traffic congestion with official
received a submission from environmental consultants Mr
Ian Tait and Mr
Geoffrey Ostling, which appears to support the proposal of a
turn-around facility. Both Mr
Tait and Mr
Ostling had attended the 25 April 2005 ceremony at ANZAC Cove. The first part of their
It appears that
the audience was only allowed access from the northern access [road]...We were
required to walk past several hundred buses parked single file on the side of
the narrow road into the cemetery site, a distance of about 5 kms. The access
from the south appears to have only been for the dignitaries and service
vehicles...Why was no centralised parking area or even a bus set-down and turn
around area on the northern access round to facilitate the movement of the
general public (sic).
The Committee did
hear evidence from the Department of Veterans' Affairs that roadworks on a
northern coastal road near 'Embarkation Pier' had made a 'marginal improvement'
in walking distance to the April 2005 service.
There was also a system whereby those who were over 75 years of age could
pre-register to be taken off the coach at the visitors' centre and transported
by a shuttle service to within 300 metres of the site.
The roadworks timeline
Work commenced on
the coastal road in late February 2005.
On 2 March,
Turkish authorities halted the work following accounts in the Turkish and
Australian media that the site was being damaged (see chapter 3).
excavation work commenced on the ANZAC Cove section of the coastal road on 4
March and was completed on 14 March.
On 18 March,
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan announced that the next major construction
work would be on the road from Chunuk Bair to Lone Pine.
The widening of
the coastal road and the first layer of asphalt was completed on 22 April 2005.
The extent of the recent roadworks
As mentioned in
Chapter 1, the most recent roadworks have been confined to the coastal road. Along this road—from Embarkation Pier in the north to Brighton Beach in the south—there have been six areas of
at North Beach, on the seaward side of the road
at the foot of Reserve Gully, where a car park has been constructed
the northern headland of Ari Burnu, where the
road has been extended into the hillside
the seaward end of ANZAC Gully, where a short
section has been removed
on the seaward side of the road adjacent to
Shrapnel Valley, where a car park has been built
the southern headland of Hell's Spit, which has
been deepened and raised, and
on Brighton Beach to the south of ANZAC Cove,
there has been a 15 metre excavation.
At the time of
the Committee hearing in June 2005, the construction work on the coastal road
was only partially finished. The first level of asphalt had been laid and the
engineering aspect of the work was complete. There are two further coatings of
asphalt planned, as well as furnishings such as guttering and safety railings.
heard evidence that the coastal road along ANZAC Cove has been widened from 5.5
metres to 7.0 metres of bitumen. Either side of the new road is one-and-a-half
metres of platform, making the new road's platform roughly 10 metres wide.
These measurements vary, however. The DVA Secretary, Mark Sullivan, explained to the Committee that in some places, the
old road has cut 'significantly inland'.
This gives the impression that the road has been significantly widened in places.
Some media reports claimed the new road was up to 20 metres wide.
Along the southern
parts of the coastal road, the cliff has been sheared off to enable new bitumen
to be laid. Spoil from the shearing was dumped onto the beach and into the sea
below. The alleged effect of this work is discussed in Chapter 3.
Gallipoli Peninsula, which was the field of battle from 25 April to December
1915, is experiencing significantly increased levels of tourism from both
Turkish and Australian and New Zealand citizens.
- The ANZAC Cove
sector of Gallipoli, as defined in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, is experiencing
a similar level of pressure. The site is remote and environmentally sensitive
to urban settlement and agriculture, as well as tourism, and access by tourists
is relatively uncontrolled.
- The facilities for
those attending commemorative activities at the Australian commemorative site
adjacent to ANZAC Cove are inadequate. There is insufficient space for
attendees on ANZAC Day, poor water supply, and inadequate toilet facilities.
- Foremost among
the shortcomings of the Australian site over the last five years has been
difficult access by road, insufficient parking space for buses, and traffic
management arrangements on key ceremonial occasions, including ANZAC Day.
- Roads to the ANZAC
site, until recently, have been allowed to fall into serious disrepair, posing
risks of public safety and restricted access at times of high demand.
- The Turkish
Government, in recognition of its responsibilities and the need to provide
better access on the peninsula for visitors of all nationalities, has embarked
on a major program of investment in road upgrades.
- The Australian
Government, through the agency of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and the
Office of Australian War Graves, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
has been active in seeking improvements to all facilities at the Australian
commemorative site, including improved road access and parking.
- A key request was
made in a letter from the then Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the
Hon. Danna Vale, to the Turkish Minister for Environment and Forests, His
Excellency Mr Osman Pepe. The letter suggested improved turnaround facilities
for coaches at two northern locations on the coastal road. It also recommended
an upgrade of the inland road from Lone Pine up to Chunuk Bair, and down to the
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