ANZAC DAY 2020: Clarence Valley lights up the dawn
NERVOUS and fidgety, Gary Nichols stands with his cornet at the ready at the end of his driveway in the pre-dawn half-light.
The mere handful of people who have likewise gathered to dot the streetscape of the spacious Merton Mews Estate at Clarenza pale in comparison to the many hundreds who routinely flock to Memorial Park in nearby Grafton at this time every year on April 25. On those occasions, Mr Nichols takes it in his stride when the notes of the Last Post emanate from his pursed lips to fill the crisp, silent air.
But for the first time since 1990 he is not in those familiar surrounds. Despite being a stone's throw from home, he feels out of his depth. This was uncharted territory:
"Anzac Day is always a special day for me and I feel proud to play in front of those Diggers who made sacrifices for our country," Mr Nichols told The Daily Examiner earlier this week. "It will be a different experience this year, one I wish we never have to experience again."
Across the nation today bugle players joined diggers past and present, their families and friends to pay their respect in whatever way they could in isolated solidarity at dawn.
Just down the road, Garrett Salter also livestreamed a rendition of the Last Post with Grafton Bridge as the backdrop in lieu of the South Grafton Dawn Service, where he has performed since he was 15:
Elsewhere in the Clarence Valley the musicians of tomorrow chimed into the Anzac spirit:
And whether they were on the street or in the backyard by a flame, there were plenty of others in the Clarence who took part in honouring the fallen.