Heading northwest from the information centre, it’s 3km to the Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery. After another 90m a road cuts inland to the Shrapnel Valley and Plugge’s Plateau Cemeteries.
Follow the coastal road for another 400m and you’ll come to Anzac Cove, beneath and just south of the Arıburnu cliffs, where the ill-fated Allied landing was made on 25 April 1915. Ordered to advance inland, the Allied forces met with fierce resistance from the Ottoman forces under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, who had foreseen where they would land and disobeyed an order to send his troops further south to Cape Helles. After this failed endeavour, the Anzacs concentrated on consolidating and expanding the beachhead while awaiting reinforcements.
In August the same year a major offensive was staged in an attempt to advance beyond the beach up to the ridges of Chunuk Bair and Sarı Bair. It resulted in the bloodiest battles of the campaign, but little progress was made.
Anzac Cove is marked by a Turkish monument, another 300m along, which repeats Atatürk’s famous words of 1934: ‘To us there is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets…You, the mothers, who sent your sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom… after losing their lives in this land they have become our sons as well.’
A memorial reserve, the beach is off-limits to swimmers and picnickers. Sadly erosion and roadworks have damaged the cove considerably, and the beach is now little more than a narrow strip of sand. In 2005 witnesses reported seeing human remains uncovered and construction debris dumped on the beach, prompting outrage among preservation campaigners and war-grave officials.
Most of the Gallipoli peninsula is a protected national park, but its popularity with visitors makes effective site conservation challenging, and many people feel that the local government and park administration don’t always handle the situation effectively. In recent years the flow of traffic has become particularly heavy, particularly around the most-visited monuments, and supposed ‘improvements’ such as car parks and road-widening have caused considerable damage to certain areas, most shockingly at Anzac Cove.
Of course seeing the entire peninsula on foot or by bike isn’t feasible for all visitors, but if possible you should at least try (or encourage your tour driver) to leave your vehicle in Alçıtepe, Seddülbahir or Kabatepe when exploring the areas around these towns, rather than insisting on motoring right up to each and every site.
The other major problem is the proliferation of rubbish all over the peninsula, dumped by careless visitors and locals. As well as the inevitable food wrappers and plastic bottles, all kinds of domestic refuse and even large items such as old furniture crop up even at some of the most important memorial sites. What can you do? Easy: just don’t drop your own litter, and feel free to pick up other people’s!
A few hundred metres beyond Anzac Cove is Arıburnu Cemetery and, 750m further along, Canterbury Cemetery. Between them is the Anzac Commemorative Site, where the dawn services are held on Anzac Day. Less than 1km further along the seaside road are the cemeteries at No 2 Outpost, set back inland from the road, and New Zealand No 2 Outpost, next to the road. The Embarkation Pier Cemetery is 200m beyond the New Zealand No 2 Outpost