By DAVID MOASE
THEY filled only a couple of rows at the rear of the march, but no one at yesterday's Anzac Day ceremony at Woolgoolga missed the significance of the small Sikh contingent.
More than 25 years after a rift over the wearing of turbans in the town's Ex-Services Club, members of the Sikh community said they felt a great sense of pride at joining the march along Beach Street to the club.
Hundreds gathered outside the club for the ceremony applauded enthusiastically at the mention of the colourfully dressed contingent, which also included schoolchildren wearing traditional dress and waving Australian flags.
All over the Coffs Coast, perfect weather helped swell the ranks of ex-service people and spectators at Anzac Day marches and dawn services.
For Teja Singh Grewal, 76, there was an enormous sense of satisfaction at being part of the Woolgoolga march.
"It is very pleasing to have the Sikh community included in the march today," he said.
"It is an important day for Australia and we are part of the Australian community."
Marching alongside him was Brisbane man Gian Singh, 71, who served as a mechanic in the Indian army for 15 years and was in Woolgoolga yesterday visiting his daughter.
"This is the first time I have been able to march on Anzac Day and it is a very great day for the Sikh community," he said.
"When I go back to Brisbane I will see if we can do a similar thing there."
Woolgoolga RSL Sub-Branch president Greg Jackson said the Sikh presence had contributed to the biggest Anzac Day turnout in years.
"I'm thrilled to pieces with the number of people we've had here today," he said.
"There has been a lot of interest with the Sikhs marching and also the 90th anniversary of Anzac Day has attracted attention around the world.
"It was also incredible to see so many school children here."
The large crowd at the ceremony was mirrored by a large contingent at Woolgoolga's dawn service.
Former federal member for Cowper, Mr Gary Nehl, the patron of the South-East Asian and Vietnam Veterans Association of Coffs Harbour, used his role as guest speaker to recall the role played by the women of the Australian Army Nursing Service in World War I.