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Anzac services return amid Ukraine plight

Sacrifices made in wars past and present have been remembered at Anzac Day ceremonies across the country and overseas.

The national dawn service in Canberra - marking the 107th anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli - began with a moment of quiet reflection followed by the sound of a didgeridoo played by Worimi man, Leading Aircraftman Tarryn Roach.

Army veteran Mike Ruffin - who served in Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam - told the service at the Australian War Memorial it was a day to reflect on the Anzac spirit.

He spoke of his personal experience on New Year's Eve in 1968 during the Vietnam War, which had forged a lasting bond between mates.

"In hindsight, it seems inconceivable that five men could run across 100 metres of open ground whilst being subjected to that amount of fire and not receive a single gunshot wound," he said.

"Had any one of us been wounded, that would have been the end as we would never have left a mate behind.

"Every Anzac Day, I reflect on that experience and am so grateful that we all survived. We still keep in touch to this day."

He said Australia was fortunate that current service personnel were "so highly trained, prepared to take the risks and committed to serving their country when asked to do so".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor deputy leader Richard Marles attended the dawn service in Darwin. Labor leader Anthony Albanese remains in isolation at his Sydney home as he recovers from COVID-19.

Mr Morrison said as Australians honoured their own fallen who fought for liberty and freedom, "we stand with the people of Ukraine, who do the same thing at this very moment".

"Our world is changing. War does strike Europe again. Coercion troubles our region once more and an arc of autocracy is challenging the rules-based order our grandparents secured," he said.

"Democratic, free peoples are standing together again."

Mr Albanese said in a video message the Australian character was confirmed at Gallipoli and since then Australians had "stood steadfast as warriors and as builders and keepers of the peace".

"Yet as the war in Ukraine so tragically reminds us, darkness is not vanquished from the world," he said.

"It reminds us freedom cannot be taken for granted. It reminds us that freedom isn't free."

It is the first Anzac Day since forces withdrew from Afghanistan, where 41 Australians died in service, and large crowds returned as COVID-19 restrictions eased.

This year also marks the 80th anniversary of Anzac Day commemorations at the Australian War Memorial.

Around 20,000 people gathered there for the dawn service and veterans' march, the first time in three years attendance has not been restricted by COVID rules.

Director Matt Anderson said the numbers attending was a powerful reminder of the connection Australians have with Anzac Day.

In his national address, Governor-General David Hurley said the Anzac legacy was not reflected in a single individual or event but was the "sum of thousands of stories".

"Of ordinary Australians who, when given a job to do, got it done, did it in a way that made us proud and looked after each other during and after," he said.

"The characteristics that we take from the Anzac legacy to define us - mateship, endurance, courage and sacrifice - are inherent in Australia."

Delivering an address in Sydney, Major General Matthew Pearse said it was a day to give thanks for all veterans for their service, their sacrifice and their resilience.

"They're filled with stories of ordinary Australians who pulled together despite adversity to support their mates and put their lives on the line to defend our national interests and secure a brighter future."

Overseas, Anzac services took place in Turkey, Thailand, India, Papua New Guinea and France.

© AAP 2022