Gallipoli still resonates with us because the battlefields are the best-preserved of all those of the First World War, and because the cemeteries were established close to where the men fell.

We can thank Charles Bean for that, as for so many other things, as it was his report after the 1919 Historical Mission that resulted in the conservation of the battlefield cemeteries, rather than the collection and concentration of the graves in large cemeteries, as often happened on the Western Front.

Bean was also quite interested in providing access to these places of pilgrimage, and made detailed recommendations for the establishment, or reestablishment of roads and paths to give access to the cemeteries and monuments.

‘With reference to the roads, Anzac is accessible by Ford car during fine spells even in winter, and (the journey) would easily be practicable in summer … The first cost or repair of motor roads from Boghali to North and South Anzac and around the Beach would be about £600 and the annual cost £200.’

(13 March 1919 Report in Gallipoli Mission, AWM 1952 p 384)

I don’t know what Bean would have made of Anzac today – especially the widening of the road in 2005, and the construction of the retaining wall in 2011.

The Anzacs themselves made the road above Anzac Cove  in 1915, and it was developed further by the Turks after the evacuation Tremendous earthworks were also undertaken in 1915 – dugouts, tracks and the large scale terracing (Malone’s Terraces) near Quinn’s Post.

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The work of the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey (Australian, New Zealand and Turkey – 17 archaeologists and historians) is undertaking

work along the ridgeline up from Lone Pine to the Nek and Chunuk Bair. (Reported in American Archaeology April 2013

The team has discovered evidence of Malone’s Terraces among other finds.

This survey is the first professional work in a hundred years, and will provide valuable new material to mull over.

The work around Anzac Cove is another matter. It reminds me of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi –

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Whatever conservation and drainage works might have been required to allow visitors access to Anzac and the North Beach commemorative site were only necessary because of the numbers, and the use of big buses.

Too late now – Anzac Cove is  now an ugly ruin  — but there were other less intrusive solutions.  Plaxes of pilgrimage don’t have to be easy to get to. Maybe the road should  have been maintained as at was in the  1990s, and a larger road constructed inland, with smaller vehicles to ferry visitors to Anzac Cove.

My view since I climbed up to Plugge’s from Anzac Cove for the first time in 1996 is that Gallipoli is best appreciated alone or in a small group.  While I understand that tens of thousands want to be on the beach at dawn on 25 April 2015, I won’t be. If I’m at Gallipoli, I’ll be at Krithia on the evening of 6 May, or at Chunk Bair on 7 August.