MORE than 50,000 people are expected to descend on Nobbys beach on Anzac Day for what is believed to be the second largest dawn service in the country.
Newcastle RSL Sub-branch president Ken Fayle said about 53,000 people had attended the service each year for the past four years and he hadn't heard of larger numbers anywhere, apart from Canberra's 60,000.
"Newcastle and Hunter Valley people have always been supportive of anything ex-service related," Mr Fayle said.
"The stronger a community is in showing its willingness to commemorate those who have gone before us, the stronger the community is overall.
"People might say that's a bit deep, but it sends a message this is a strong community and don't mess with us."
Newcastle City Council gave the sub-branch $75,000 to assist with the cost of the 5am dawn service at Nobbys beach, the 9.15am march from Hunter Street Mall along King Street to Civic Park and the 10am united commemoration service in Civic Park.
Mr Fayle said the sub-branch would spend about $80,000 of its funds on the events.
The dawn service will include a band, choir, bugler and bagpiper and will conclude with the Fort Scratchley guns firing a four-gun salute to the fallen to represent the navy, army, airforce and Anzac.
Fort Scratchley will open from midday to 4pm and the guns will fire at 1pm and 3pm.
"It's the site that attracts people," he said of Nobbys.
"The guns firing from Fort Scratchley, the prologue is unique, we'll have an AUSLAN signer on stage this year.
"We're not afraid to step outside the normal bounds and try to do something a little bit different. People are responding by attending.
"Even when it rains no-one goes home. We still have huge crowds out there, which is unbelievably heartening."
The council will pay $20,000 so passengers can use the Park and Ride service for free. Buses will depart McDonald Jones Stadium for Queens Wharf from 3am.
Light rail and ferry services will start from 3.30am. Additional bus services will be offered on routes 11, 13, 14 and 23 from 3.20am to 6.35am.
On Wednesday, an 11am commemoration service at Christ Church Cathedral will include the opening of the Field of Remembrance and lighting of the Anzac flame.
The Newcastle Civic Park War Memorial Grove Preservation Group will hold a 5pm vigil and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women.