New push to protect Gallipoli trenches

Historians such as Dr Ian McGibbonare trying to protect the 100-year-old trenches at Gallipoli. (AAP)

Historians such as Dr Ian McGibbonare trying to protect the 100-year-old trenches at Gallipoli. (AAP)

There’s now a joint Australia-New Zealand push to protect the 100-year-old trench system at Gallipoli with historians arguing some sections should be opened to tourists.

A month ago Canberra-based historian Dr Richard Reid called for selected trenches to be roped off with walkways for visitors and signs explaining how they operated.

The well-defined trenches behind the Lone Pine cemetery would be ideal, Dr Reid told AAP.

Now his Kiwi colleague from the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey, Dr Ian McGibbon, has backed the plan.

‘I think he (Dr Reid) is right,’ Dr McGibbon told AAP on Tuesday.

‘It’s close to a well-visited site and you could put a walkway around there without doing any damage to the environment.

‘Ropes would indicate for people not to go into the trenches.’

The long-time New Zealand war historian also suggests walkways could be added at the stretch of ridge known as the Nek and new tracks built elsewhere to help people access more remote trenches.

‘That would greatly improve visitor’s experience here,’ Dr McGibbon said.

The Turks have built a new viewing platform at Achi Baba to view the Cape Helles battlefield so are open to the idea of improving visitor facilities.

The joint survey, which was completed in late 2014, involved experts from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey mapping the main battlefield for a month each year over five years.

The team traced 16km of trenches.

Dr Reid now wants sections shored up and preserved.

But his colleague is opposed to trenches being reconstructed like has happened at some sites using logs or concrete.

‘That destroys their authenticity,’ Dr McGibbon said.

‘However, it would be nice if some sort of walkway could be created in places to preserve the trenches for a little bit longer and not accelerate the erosion and disappearance.’

The Kiwi historian says extreme weather is likely to result in the trenches disappearing completely within 50 to 100 years.

‘Gradually it’s weathering away but if we build walkways that will delay the process.’

The survey’s mapping work could also stop new roads and infrastructure being built in the wrong place.

Dr McGibbon said the Turks were now less likely to widen the road up to Chunuk Bair, for instance, knowing it would destroy a lot of Turkish and Anzac trenches.

The historian on Tuesday gave AAP a tour of the Broadway trench and Malone’s Terraces beneath Quinn’s Post.

During the trek an Anzac trouser button was discovered along with a piece of a 100-year-old rum jar.

Dr McGibbon said ideally that site too would have a walkway built so pilgrims could see the remains of the trench system there.

But the Gallipoli peninsula is a national park and any management decisions are for the Turkish government, he stressed.

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