Thanks to everyone who took the time to post in this thread. All advise was much appreciated.
I have just returned from Turkey and guess what...you can EASILY travel through Turkey independently and also take in ANZAC Day events too. It was only a short trip for us, 2 weeks, it was a special trip just for ANZAC Day commemorations at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli.
This is how easy it was to see ANZAC Day at Gallipoli WITHOUT being on an expensive tour:
TL= Turkish Lira (at the time of travel TL2 = 1), all costs noted are per traveller.
We took a “TAKSi” from Sultanahmet (TL2.50 (TL7.50 in total), about 5 minutes) to Yenikapi.
We booked a ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma (TL30, about 2.5 hours). Whilst we did book to ensure we could make the trip, a booking in the end was not essential. Here were still plenty of tickets available when the ferry departed.
It was also possible to book a direct bus from Istanbul to Eceabat but we thought the ferry experience would be good (which it was!). A direct bus would have been cheaper and a little quicker at TL40.
We took a shuttle from the Bandirma ferry port to the “Otogar” (central bus station) (TL1, 5 minutes).
At the Otogar there were several bus companies which offered travel to Çanakkale. Basically it seemed that a bus left every 30mins or so. (TL20, 2 hours).
We then walked from the Otogar in Çanakkale to the ferry port (10 minutes) and took a ferry from Çanakkale to Eceabat the gateway town to all ANZAC sites. No need to book just hop on a ferry leaves every 30 minutes or so. (TL2, 45mins).
The only hitch we had was the final leg of Eceabat to ANZAC Cove. During ANZAC commemorations, the roads to and from ANZAC Cove are only open to authorised transport. Shuttles that would usually run to the site were not running due to the traffic congestion (which is absolutely crazy...200+ tour buses plus plus plus). We struck up a conversation with a local taxi driver and negotiated for him to take us and then collect us the next day. He suggested that we arrive at the north entrance to ANZAC Cove (the less used entrance) so we travelled via a small town called Bigali and there was no traffic at all. We even stopped at Bigali and went to a house where Ataturk once lived (which is now a museum) and went to a pub for a drink. We arrived at 4:30pm the day before the dawn service. Traffic would no doubt have been far worse later in the night. Driving to ANZAC Cove on the usual road through Kabatepe was murder (according to our friends who went that way on their tour), it was traffic to the hilt! The taxi cost us (both ways) TL200 but we were 5 people so TL40 each was a steal!
The return trip from Eceabat to Istanbul was a long, long bus ride (especially not having slept the night before) of 6 hours. Cost was TL40. We booked this well in advance which proved ideal. In saying that, other travellers we met did not have a ticket and still managed to get back to Istanbul the same night as us, albeit many hours later.
Turkey buses are pretty good. We went with Kamil Koç and Metro and both served drinks and snacks! The buses were modern and very comfortable.
So to conclude, my friend spent TL450 (about 225) for a “3 day” tour from Istanbul to Gallipoli. For that he got:
a 2 hour guided walking tour in Istanbul,
a tee-shirt, hoodie and beanie,
bus travel to Gallipoli which I assume included dinner as the didn’t get to ANZAC Cove until after midnight,
Commemorations at ANZAC Cove and Lone Pine,
Return bus travel,
1 night hostel accommodation in Istanbul which I assume included breakfast and dinner.
To compare......Factoring in accommodation and food (that was part of my mates tour package), I would have spent no more than TL200 (about 100). Add to that the tour clothing, I think I made a great saving by NOT joining a tour.
I hope this might help others who are considering doing something similar! If anyone would like further info or has any questions, I will be happy to help out!
Independent travel is the way to go!!