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Australian War Memorial

Listed under Museums in Canberra, Australia.

  • Photo of Australian War Memorial
  • Photo of Australian War Memorial
  • Photo of Australian War Memorial
Photo of Australian War Memorial
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"Many a man lying out there at Pozières or in the low scrub at Gallipoli, with his poor tired senses barely working through the fever of his brain, has thought in his last moments: 'Well - well - it's over; but in Australia they will be proud of this.'." Charles, Bean, Australian War Journalist and key figure in the creation of the Australian War Memorial.

Australia has a proud military tradition hung on the character of the servicemen themselves, which prizes bravery, mateship and a good sense of both honour and humour. Apart from sport, Australian military history is one of the few things all Australians will unite to feel proud about.

The War Memorial building is a triumph of respectful architecture; large and looming with its serious looking copper domed roof and heavy symmetrical pillared entrance hall leading into a bright open courtyard where the eternal flame burns in the sunshine, it’s flanked by a bush clad mountain and a long drive lined with eucalypts and memorials.

Exhibitions examine conflicts from the time of the first settlement. Some of the best known moments in Australian history are studied, including Gallipoli, the Kokoda Trail, Sandakan and the bombing of Darwin, as well as lesser known battles and conflicts. The mood is sombre rather than glorious, one of the key reasons for this is the focus on individual experiences, unit diaries and journals have been used to try and give visitors an idea of individual soldier's experiences, as well as a historic overview of the campaigns and battles. Many items have been collected especially for this purpose, memorably a WW1 Australian Imperial Forces uniform off the back of a battle weary solider displayed as is still covered in mud.

There are also a variety of vehicles, including favourite, G for George, the famous Lancaster bomber which flew 89 operations over Germany and occupied territories, as well as other aircraft, tanks, jeeps, one of the mini Japanese submarines captured in Sydney harbour and artillery, guns and shells. Thousands of personal letters, paintings, reports, old news reels, uniforms, photographs and medals (including Victoria Crosses.) make up the collection of relics.

A visit to the Hall of Memory is an integral part of experiencing the war memorial, there the names of all Australian lives lost in conflict are recorded on the walls surrounding the eternal flame. This hall is also the focus point of memorial services on Remembrance Day and Anzac Day.

The war memorial is open every day except Christmas.

Australian War Memorial Site.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

Other expert and press reviews

“Australian War Memorial”

On leaving the front entrance of the Australian Parliament House the view you are presented with highlights the precise planning that went into placement of this building in relation to Canberra’s other iconic attractions. Looking ahead, your eyes … Read more...

Written by  Matt Palmer.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

War Memorial

Not personally a fan of the sterilised feel of Canberra’s layout, this is one time it works: from the huge flag at the top of the Australian Parliament House, down the hill though the old Parliament House and across the lake to Anzac Parade and up to the entrance of the Australian War Memorial is an obvious straight line created by architecture and road layouts. It’s certainly a nice and impressive touch that lends an extra something to the austerity of the Anzac Day parade and services.

The good news for children is that around the side are some tank shells you can climb on and a statue of Simpson and his donkey which was one of the first stories I learned about Australia’s military history (Simpson was a young medic and stretcher bearer who found a donkey and used it to carry injured men down the winding cliff face that was the only line the Anzac forces occupied at Gallipoli. He is personally responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of men and for helping to create the Anzac legend that was begun at Gallipoli. Simpson lasted 24 days completing 12 to 15 trips a day from the front to the dressing stations before being killed by sniper fire.)

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