No Anzac Day ceremony at Vietnam's Long Tan memorial this year, DFAT says
Australia will not hold an Anzac Day ceremony at the Long Tan memorial site in Vietnam, after last year's 50th anniversary plans were cancelled at the last minute by the host government.
The diplomatic disaster last year left many former veterans angry and disappointed.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its travel advice on Thursday giving Australian travellers advance warning about its Anzac Day plans.
"It remains unclear if the Vietnamese authorities will permit official commemorations," DFAT said on the Smart Traveller website.
"Accordingly, the Australian Government cannot currently commit to holding an official commemoration on Anzac Day 2017 at the Long Tan site."
DFAT said it was "continuing discussions" with the Vietnamese Government about future commemorations.
Currently, small numbers of visitors are permitted access to the Long Tan cross, near the southern town of Vung Tau.
But DFAT warns that "may change at short notice".
Vietnam's abrupt cancellation of last year's 50th anniversary event — the day before it was scheduled — was labelled a "kick in the guts" by Veterans' Affairs Minister Dan Tehan.
An estimated 3,000 Australians had travelled to Vietnam for the 50th anniversary, but most never made it to the memorial cross.
While there was no clear reason given by Vietnam, it is believed the size and the tone of the commemorative events had offended the communist Government, which is still sensitive about the battle.
On 18 August 1966, a force of 108 Anzac soldiers fought an estimated 2,500 North Vietnamese soldiers in a rain-soaked rubber plantation near Australia's main army base.
They had crucial support from New Zealand artillery.
After a hellish battle, 18 Australian soldiers were dead and an estimated 245 North Vietnamese had been killed, making it one of Australia's largest encounters during the Vietnam War.
While Australia sees Long Tan as a gallant defence by an outnumbered force, Vietnam's communist Government considers it a noble effort against overwhelming firepower.
By Liam Cochrane - Australian Broadcasting Corporation - March 12, 2017