The welcoming banner at the railway station – for Anzac Day – 2013……..

Feature photo:  Looking out onto the beautiful, green countryside felt intensely incongruous with the stony, cold bunkers – the chill inside the bunker added to that feeling.

I’m writing a post on Villers-Bretonneux as in Australia every 25th April it is ANZAC DAY which the Australian War Memorial describes as:

“one of Australia’s most important national occasions.  It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.”

What does it mean today?

“Australians recognise 25 April as a day of national remembrance, which takes two forms.  Commemorative services are held across the nation at dawn – the time of the original landing, while later in the day, former servicemen and servicewomen meet to take part in marches through the country’s major cities and in many smaller centres.  Commemorative ceremonies are more formal, and are held at war memorials around the country.  In these ways, Anzac Day is a time at which Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.”

Visiting Villers-Bretonneux 

There are a variety of ways to visit the significant sites – we decided on getting there by train (Paris – Amiens Railway Station…1 hour 20 min) and we then had a small group tour guide pick us up from Amiens Station and drive us around (see photo of van below)…it’s a short drive from the station to V-B (about 20 min).  Go prepared for any weather as it can change from hot to cold very quickly in this part of France;  we learnt our lesson – after a heatwave in Paris the day before (photo below) we didn’t bother with taking coats & scarves this day and it turned out to be bleak, bitterly cold with a wind that whipped up as the day went on.  Fortunately, the museum was heated and we lingered in there – lots to see and it’s much improved in 2017 – it’s been extended and modernised recently (see website).

From heatwave one day to freezing conditions the next!…

Early evening along the Seine – heatwave conditions the day before our day trip (25/4/13) with people trying to get some relief from a breeze off the river.



Photo below:  the next day in Villers-Bretonneux with our small group tour…

Photo below left:  All Australian War Veterans have a badge with the Australian Military Forces emblem…our father had one as he was a WWII Veteran and I remember him wearing it each ANZAC day.

The old museum (photo below)…the one we went to in 2013

The new museum (photo below) – opened in 2017…see article in Canberra Times 24/4/13 about the collaboration between the French and Australians in turning this vision into a reality.  If visiting, don’t miss Paul Keating’s speech – poignant and powerful.  For those who may not know, Paul Keating was an Aust’n Prime Minister – Dec 91 – March 96.

After our half day tour we headed to this village for a late lunch in a cosy restaurant.  We continued the tour of the battlefields for another hour after lunch but it became so cold and windy (+ we forgot our coats of course) so I retreated to the van (the cold made my back/bionic bits ache!) while Tony completed the tour.  Our guide was very knowledgeable without overloading us with military details – he read the audience well – non military people…just us + a couple of Australian journalists on holidays with their families.

Recipe for slightly Healthier ANZAC Biscuits:

The traditional recipe is very sweet so if you’ve been trying to cut back on sugar, like many of us, you might prefer these.  I’ll add a traditional recipe later + post it onto the Food/Kids page too.  We have a few relatives who are coming for afternoon tea – some of us trying to reduce our sugar for various reasons.  This recipe comes from I Quit Sugar website.  Rice Malt Syrup can be found in the specialty/health section of most large supermarkets.  We bought it from Coles.

125 g unsalted butter
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 cups desiccated coconut

1/2 cup regular plain flour.

1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamias (we bought the chopped variety as not as $$$…we combined these + flaked almonds which we buy in bulk)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground


1. Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2 and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, rice malt syrup and vanilla stirring until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt.
3. Combine the bicarbonate of soda with boiling water together in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture, stirring through until foamy.
4. Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour melted butter mixture into dry ingredients and combine well.
5. Roll 1 teaspoon of mixture into a ball and place on tray, flattening into a disc. Repeat with remaining mixture, allowing room for spreading. You should have 25 small ANZAC cookies.
6. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Allow to cool on trays before transferring to a wire rack. Store in airtight container.