After 5 days of weather typical of an English summer (i.e. cool, grey, intermittent rain), the day we were leaving Canberra was hot and sunny. C’est la vie! Our flight to our next destination, Melbourne, wasn’t due to leave until around midday so we had a couple of hours to kill and took the opportunity to walk up to the Australian War Memorial, about 20 minutes away on foot.
It’s in a dominant location in Canberra, standing on a hill at the north end of the city’s ceremonial land axis, which stretches from Parliament House on Capital Hill along a line passing through the summit of Mount Ainslie. There are three parts to the Memorial – the Commemorative Area (shrine) including the Hall of Memory with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, the Memorial’s galleries (museum) and Research Centre (records). The road leading up to the Memorial from the city centre and along the axis is known as the Anzac Parade and is lined with memorials to various campaigns the Australian armed forces have been involved in.
Conceived in the 1920’s, indecision about the design and the Great Depression in the 1930’s delayed it’s construction and it was only completed in 1941, after the outbreak of World War II. It was designed by two architects from Sydney, Emil Sodersten and John Crust. The main feature, the Byzantine domed Hall of Memory is a Modernist, Art Deco structure.
Time was very limited, so we didn’t have much time to look around once we’d reached the memorial, and could only get a quick look around the Shrine.
In the courtyard there are a series of bronze plaques, the Roll of Honour, which lists the names of 102,185 Australian servicemen and women killed in conflict or on peacekeeping operations. The poppies are not an official part of the monument but have been left by relatives visiting the Shrine who have left the poppies next to the names of their relatives. A moving, unofficial, tribute bringing a human touch to the monument.
We returned to our hotel via the Anzac Parade. Here’s a few photos of some of the monuments lining the avenue.