Australian War Memorial, Canberra

5 out of 5 stars 68 Reviews

Treloar Crescent, Campbell 02 6243 4211

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  • Lest We Forget
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    Mont St Quentin Diorama
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    WWII at the Australian War Memorial
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    THE FOUR PILLARS - PART 4

    by balhannah Updated Nov 18, 2009

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    AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL........
    Inside the Hall of Memory, you will see four pillars standing together.

    These four pillars are all differently shaped and are made from materials symbolizing the four elements.

    • THE GLASS PILLAR, icy and colorless, symbolizes WATER and suggests the flow of change and transfiguration of souls.

    • THE STONE PILLAR, symbolizes EARTH, and is associated with permanence and endurance, physical structure and the coldness of death.

    • THE METAL PILLAR, symbolizes FIRE, and is associated with energy and passion, patriotism and bravery.

    • THE WOODEN PILLAR, symbolizes AIR, with its polished surface, it’s associated with disembodied spirit and the souls of the dead.

    It was very interesting to know the meanings of each Pillar.
    This concludes on what there is to see in the Hall of Memory.

    Make sure you visit, IT IS A MUST SEE, so sad, probably more moving for Australian’s like me, but anybody will find the aura of this place take you over.

    THE FOUR PILLARS
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    ANZAC HALL

    by balhannah Updated Sep 6, 2010

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    ANZAC HALL, another fantastic exhibition showcasing large objects from the war years and using sound and light to tell compelling stories of Australia’s servicemen and women.
    A lot is a permanent exhibition..... showcasing the Great war in the air, the stories of military flight and aerial combat during the First World War.

    There is a stunning re-creation of a night operation over Berlin in 1943, featuring the famous Lancaster bomber "G for George". This exhibition, called "Striking by night," tells of the exploits and experiences of the people, from both sides, who lived through the bombing offensive.

    Of particular interest is the famous midget submarine, assembled from sections of two of the three submarines that raided Sydney in 1942, this area also had an excellent sound and light show.

    Just a little bit about the Sub................and how lucky Sydney and Australia was..............there could have been a very different outcome.

    The remains were only discovered in 2006, by some divers off Sydney's northern beaches.

    On the night of 31 May 1942 three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney harbour. One became entangled in the boom net across the harbour, and her occupants blew her up. A second entered the harbour and fired torpedoes at the cruiser USS Chicago. They missed the Chicago but one hit the barracks ship HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21.
    This midget submarine disappeared, its fate a complete mystery.
    A third midget submarine also entered the harbour but was destroyed by depth-charges before it had fired any torpedoes.

    The submarine in the Memorial's collection is a composite of two that entered the harbour.

    A MUST VISIT IN THE WAR MEMORIAL

    ENTRY to the War Memorial is FREE, but please give a donation to keep it running,

    IT IS A WORLD CLASS MUSEUM

    Open 10 -5 pm Daily

    Lancaster bomber in the sound & light show
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    COMMEMORATIVE AREA…PART 1

    by balhannah Updated Nov 18, 2009

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    COMMEMORATIVE AREA…PART 1

    When you enter the War Memorial, if you keep on walking, then you would walk into this area.
    The large “POOL OF REFLECTION,” with the Eternal flame burning is located here, and on either side are arched cloisters which record the Wars in which the Australian forces have fought.

    Lining the walls are small gargoyles which have been crafted to represent native Australian Fauna.
    At the head of the stairs are two sandstone sculptures of Indigenous people overlooking the courtyard as guardian figures.

    A formal garden , planted with Rosemary because of its symbolic significance, borders the courtyard. Rosemary has stood for remembrance since Roman times.

    On the side walls are the Roll of Honour, with the names of the 102,000 Australian Servicemen and Women who have lost their lives in War.
    Many of these have red poppies put there by relatives. These are another important symbol of remembrance.
    For a small fee, the Memorial can create a Roll of Honour certificate for you.

    OPEN 10 - 5 PM daily

    Pool of Reflection Looking towards New Parliament House The Arched Cloisters Arched cloisters and the Pool of Reflection Rememberance Poppies
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    CONFLICTS FROM 1945 UNTIL TODAY

    by balhannah Updated Nov 18, 2009

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    This is a new addition to the War Memorial, only opened in 2008.

    The galleries here, tell the stories of Australia’s involvement in conflicts over the past six decades, as well as Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping operations since 1945.

    The gallery covers conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, and, more recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There are over 30 new audiovisual displays, including Iroquois helicopter sound and light shows, and a re-enactment film of the Battle of Long Tan.

    The Vietnam gallery has as its centrepiece an Iroquois helicopter, complete with a multimedia experience of a ‘helibourne assault’ – a landing with soldiers disembarking, and a ‘dust-off’ – a medical evacuation.

    We stood and watched and listened, felt the wind blowing from the rotors, it felt like we were there, right in the middle of the action, incredibly well done!

    The complete bridge from HMAS Brisbane has been installed at the back of the galleries, and is the Memorial’s largest naval relic.
    HMAS Brisbane served in the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War and later with the UN Multinational Interception Force. I went for a walk on the bridge which features a special multimedia presentation.

    All I can say is..........
    this is another section of the Australian War memorial that should.........

    NOT BE MISSED!

    Iroquois helicopter  during the sound & light show Iroquois helicopter display Iroquois helicopter during sound & light show
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    SOUND & LIGHT SHOWS

    by balhannah Written Nov 19, 2009

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    THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL has excellent exhibits with some of them having a sound and light show included.
    It is worth staying in that area until the show begins.

    KAPYONG DIORAMA - KOREAN GALLERY

    Sound & light every 15mins......Using digital technology to recreate the sights and sounds of the battlefield and all diorama sculptures are based on actual portraits of Australians involved at Kapyong.

    IROQUOIS HELICOPTER SHOWS

    HELIBORNE ASSAULT - 3 shows every hour................'Heliborne assault', is about the use of helicopters to drop soldiers into a patrol. These installations use original film and radio traffic recordings to dramatise experience, reinforced with sound and light. Fans installed in the ceilings mimic the downbeat of the rotors; the noise is overpowering and the lights flash.

    DUST - OFF - 1 show every hour........ 'Dust-off', about the evacuation of wounded soldiers,

    LONG TAN THEATRETTE
    A letter from Long Tan - Every 15mins.
    A new film re-enacts the courageous actions fo the men of D Company, 6RAR, in the most famous battle of Australia's Vietnam War.

    LANCASTER BOMBING RAID

    Anzac Hall ........ "Striking by night", a permanent exhibition featuring a dramatic sound and light show that re-creates a night bombing operation over Berlin in December 1943
    Watch as huge screens play out a solemn re-enactment of the daring night raid over Berlin.

    I think you will enjoy these shows, I did, and so did the large group of school children standing with us.

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    The tank

    by iandsmith Written Sep 17, 2005

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    The original lumbering giant, with its twin turrets on the side, was a monster that weighed 28 tons and carried a crew of 8. Since its British inventors wanted to keep it a secret until it was ready they told people that it was a water tank, hence the name.
    Sadly, it had one inherent flaw. Whilst making its way through, say, the sodden fields of Flanders, it had a tendency to sink in the mud. Not good for mobility.
    Enter the French option, a Renault FT17 light tank crewed by only two men and a forerunner of the modern style. Bedecked in its natty colouring (did that really camouflage it?) it debuted with limited success late in World War I.

    Camouflaged Renault
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    Australian War Museum

    by iandsmith Updated Jul 29, 2006

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    This is, without question, one of the "must-see's" of the Australian tourist circuit. Its fame is world wide and rightly so. What it promises, it delivers. It is a sombre monument to the folly of war, perhaps at times glorifying moments but always reminding one that wars are appalling things to have to endure.
    In the ensuing pages I will elaborate on certain aspects for you.

    A brooding sombre reminder of conflicts past. An overview
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    Tomb of the unknown soldier

    by iandsmith Written Sep 18, 2005

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    This museum has the largest collection of VCs (Victoria Crosses) anywhere. This was the highest order that a serviceman from the then British Empire could attain. The words "for valour" are enscribed on the medal and many were awarded posthumously. Heroic tales of how the medals were won are writ large in front of them, evoking deeds of times past. One wonders if it could be a VC winner that lies beneath the eternal flame.
    It seems to be a world-wide phenomenon, the tomb of the unknown soldier. Knowing that a single unidentified serviceman's remains are interred at a particular point, representing the millions killed during the conflicts, has a certain poignancy about it.
    Due reverence is paid and, at the end of the day, a small ceremony takes place here at the eternal flame that highlights the tomb.

    The War Museum's eternal flame
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    Australian War Memorial

    by suzyq40 Updated Apr 29, 2004

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    If you dont do anything else in Canberra, at least head off to the Australian War Memorial. I myself have been there about 6 times, and each time I go, find something else that captivates me.
    The entire place is steeped in History, going back to the Boer war through to the Gulf war.
    A warning though, you will need a few hours to look all the way through it.
    The highlight is the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, so very quiet and spooky

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    More mosaic

    by iandsmith Written Sep 17, 2005

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    How fortunate for the world that one of the soldiers of the light horse of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division who came across it in 1917 during the second battle of Gaza was an amateur archaeologist otherwise we wouldn't have this wonderful piece preserved and protected from further harm where future generations will be able to enjoy it.

    More detail
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    AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, ICON Not to be MISSED

    by AusPinay Written May 5, 2008

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    A visit to this outstanding memorial is not just an educational experience but a lasting lesson for all- that WAR is evil and PEACE must be preserved and defended even by our precious lives!

    At least those were the things that stuck to my family as we view the awful sacrifices made since time past by our men and women in the military and defense forces here and abroad to defend democracy! The peacekeeping that Aussies do overseas particularly in troubled places are just commendable. We do need this MEMORIAL to remember why, what, and how people do love PEACE and abhor WAR!

    The irony is we need to shed precious lives, most of the time use VIOLENCE to justify preserving PEACE.As much as possible I wish Australia will thoroughly examine which nations are deserving of its help and support and not gamble with innocent lives!

    I hope generations to come will learn this valuable lesson about WAR and PEACE!

    The photos will speak for themselves as we browse through the exhibits! You need at least half a day to see everything!Admission is FREE!

    the  iconic WAR MEMORIAL IN CANBERRA some of the defense machinery used in the past another cannon from the past Peacekeeping in tourbled areas Japanese involvement in WWII exhibit
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    World War I at the Australian War Memorial

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    On 4 August 1914, the British Empire declared war on Germany and her allies and with that an enthusiastic Australia was at war. Within days white Australians were enlisting. Aboriginals were specifically barred from joining the newly federated Australia’s military forces though around 1000 including Charles Blackman (picture 2) did mange to enlist.

    Over four years later (the war was supposed to have been over before Christmas 1914), on 11 September 1918, the war ended. In the interim 61,514 (of around 330,000) Australian servicemen had lost their lives in the Great War and a further 150,000 were wounded or taken prisoner. Worldwide roughly 16 million people died in WWI. I leave it for the reader to ponder these figures.

    Australia’s most famous, and indeed costly, encounter in WWI was the Gallipoli or Dardanelles campaign.

    On 25 April 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula, ‘eliminate Turkey’ and end the war. The Australian/New Zealand combination became known as the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and so started an enduring military relationship between Australia and New Zealand and a spirit that continues to this day.

    Between 25 April 1915 and 8 January 1916 almost 9,000 Australians lost their lives in the Dardanelles campaign. The campaign itself ended in complete failure and over 140,000 allied casualties. Even today, as I completely re-write this review on the 25 April 2015 exactly 100 years from the ANZACs Gallipoli landing, the Dardanelles campaign remains one of the most controversial of the World War I and is seen by many as one (of many) good examples of ‘lambs to the slaughter’. I shall leave it at that as Virtualtourist is not the place for such discussion and debate.

    The totally refurbished (late 2014) galleries at the Australian War Memorial attempt to portray what life was like at Gallipoli, on the Western Front, in the mud of Flanders and in the deserts of Sinai–Palestine during WWI through the War Memorial’s justifiably famous dioramas, relics such as a landing boat used at Gallipoli (picture 4) and perhaps most poignantly, the accounts of individual ANZAC soldiers, mainly recorded in their very personal letters and diaries.

    While I have prepared a separate review, in two parts, on the Memorial’s 1920s dioramas, perhaps, more than any other exhibit in the Australian War Memorial, Peter Corlett’s 1989 diorama (my main image attached), “Man in the Mud”, gives us an idea of life on the Western Front. The image of the destruction, the desolation and the utter despair depicted by the soldier, head in hands, says, I feel, more than thousands of words could ever do.

    As such, I will leave the reader with that image, though before I do so, I should comment on my third picture lest the reader wonder why I have included a picture of two German Iron Crosses. These medals, now on display in the Memorial, are from a box of around 100, destined for issue to German soldiers. On 8 August 1918 the medals fell into the hands of Australian soldiers many of whom returned home festooned in Iron Crosses with some worn in the most “undignified places” according to one soldier in a letter to his wife.

    If you have come here by way of my Australian War Memorial summary tip please click here to return to that tip should you wish to do so.


    Next Review – War Memorial and ANZAC Parade

    OR

    Next Dec 14 - 5 May 2015 Review

    WWI 'Man in the Mud' Charles Blackman - WWI Enlistee Captured Iron Crosses Gallipoli Landing Craft World War I Gallery
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    Menin Gate at Midnight

    by wabat Updated May 5, 2015

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    Menin Gate at Midnight and the Menin Gate Lions are currently on loan to the Canadian War Museum and will then go to Belgian city of Ypres in time for the centenary of the battle of Passchendaele in 2017. The painting and the lions will return the Australian War Memorial in 2018.

    With such an amazing collection of war relics, artwork and other memorabilia the majority of which evoke, in the visitor, sad and dark memories from wars and conflicts (though many simultaneously create a sense of hope) it is hard to single out a favourite item at the Australian War Memorial. If I were forced to do so, this painting may indeed be it.

    Tucked away, all by itself, in a purposely darkened room at the rear of the World War I galleries you will find this painting - 'Menin Gate at Midnight'. I couldn’t help but be moved as would anyone conscious of the loss of life in World War I. Even greater atmosphere and solemnity is created by the playing of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony in the background.

    Not a word is said – no words are necessary.

    Painted in a single sitting in 1927, after attending the unveiling of the current Menin Gate memorial, at Ypres (Leper), Belgium, by official Australian war artist William (Will) Longstaff, the image features the famous memorial. In WWI tens of thousands of soldiers passed through the original Menin “gate’ (the Porte de Menin, more a cutting through the remains of ramparts the city’s medieval defenses than a gate) on their way to the Western Front. Equally tens of thousands did not return.

    The Menin Gate memorial, designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, commemorates those from the British Empire who were killed in Belgium before the arbitrary date of 16th August 1917 and have no known grave. Listed on the memorial are the names of 54,389 Empire soldiers (excluding New Zealand and Newfoundland). Perhaps as many more are not listed including over 34,000 buried in the nearby by Tyne Cot cemetery. While thousands of the “missing” lie unidentified in nameless graves thousands more remain simply unaccounted for. Readers may know that over half a million lives were lost, just here in the Ypres Salient area during World War I.

    The names of 6,000 Australians, missing in Belgium, are among those engraved on the walls of the Menin Gate memorial. These 6,000 names are likewise listed and form part of the 100,000 names on the Role of Honour here at the Australian War Memorial.

    Inscribed on the both the eastern and western facades of the memorial are the words of Rudyard Kipling:

    ‘To the Armies of the British Empire who stood here
    from 1914 to 1918
    and to those of their dead
    who have no known grave’

    and above the staircase arches (also by Kipling):

    ‘In Majomem Dei Gloriam
    Here are recorded names
    of officers and men who fell
    in Ypres Salient, but to whom
    the fortunes of war denied
    the known and honoured burial
    given to their comrades in death’

    Today, on the Menin Gate Memorial you can see a single lion atop the memorial. Two lions guarded the original gate. These lions are now located at the entrance to the Australian War Memorial – See my separate tip on the Menin Gate Lions.

    While hard to see in the attached image, the white figures in the foreground (seen in a vision during the artist’s visit) very eerily and movingly portray the steel-helmeted spirits of thousands of the unknown dead rising from the cornfields and marching towards the battlefields. Likewise, the red poppies in the foreground also may not be discernible in the attached image.

    Each evening at around 5pm a simple though poignant Last Post Ceremony is performed at the War Memorial (as it is at Ypres) in memory of the 6,000 missing together with the remaining 94,000 plus Australians who have died in wars and conflicts since colonial times.

    To return to my Australian War Memorial review click here.


    Next Review – War Memorial and ANZAC Parade

    'Menin Gate at Midnight'
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    The War Inside

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    For foreigners the most interesting thing at the Australian War Memorial is to learn in how surprisingly many wars Australia has been involved and that for this reason it is no wonder that more than 100,000 Australian soldiers have been killed.

    I am not very interested in warbirds, tanks and all the technology, so I did not study those highly praised exhibits in much detail. But I know that the Memorial is a great site for guys with more interest in this special field.

    When I was there at the end of 2005 they had a special exhibition about Art & War, with lots of paintings about Austrealia, Britain and Canada in the Second World War. This was absolutely fascinating, and I spent hours there.

    The Memorial uses film, sound, light and modern technology to depict the Australian experience of war. In the rather new ANZAC Hall you can find relics of the three Japanese midget submarines that attacked Sydney Harbour in 1942 as well as Lancaster Bomber G for George. The Bradbury Aircraft Hall tells the story of Australians at war in the Pacific from 1941 to 1945 by using so-called object-theatre.

    Open daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 5pm.

    Free guided tours (about 90 mins) available - but you can walk around at your pace and leisure as you please. If you have questions you can ask the friendly guides who are positioned in all halls and rooms.

    They also have a research centre. This is open from 10am to 4.50pm on weekdays and 1pm to 4pm on Saturdays.

    The Discovery Room is specially designed for children of all ages, open daily from 11am to 4.30pm.

    The peaceful commemoration area.
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    Menin Gate at Midnight

    by pedroswift Updated Feb 9, 2014

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    Please be advised that the World War One displays at the AWM are being refurbished and should reopen in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1.

    Having taken note of the ancient lions at the entrance to the A.W.M please do not leave without finding the painting Menin Gate at Midnight located in a small space at the back of the Gallipoli galleries. Read the description offered. In part:
    "Will Longstaff's painting, Menin Gate at Midnight captured and expressed the widespread need to remember the war's dead. Longstaff painted it after attending the opening of the Menin Gate memorial in 1927. Unable to sleep, he walked to the gate, imagining the dead rising from the fields about the town. His painting was exhibited in Australia in 1928, drawing large crowds, in whom it touched a chord. Thousands of copies were sold and hung in private homes, a popular expression of a real need to come to terms with grief."
    Eighty years later it certainly "touched a chord" within me.
    I have shed a tear subsequently to my War Memorial visit whenever I see the painting often displayed in RSL clubs throughout Australia.

    Menin Gate at Midnight
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