Australian War Memorial   Leave a comment

Sunday, 2nd September, 2012

There’s a place in Canberra that I’ve been meaning to visit since I arrived. It’s a place where all the foreign dignitaries visiting the nation’s capital are taken within the first few days of their stay and a place where, it seems, every school child in Australia is bought too sometime during their school years. Gail and Ciara have never really been interested in going and I have never had the chance to go on my own. So, now that my father is here and we both have an interest in all things military, I thought it was high time that I went and visited the Australian War Memorial at the top of ANZAC Parade.

My mum and dad took a quick two hour visit to the memorial during the week, but they came away saying that they didn’t realise it was so big and had so much to do and see inside. Ciara opted out, as usual, so after breakfast on a beautiful spring morning (Yesterday was the first day of spring in Australia!), my dad and I took a bike round the lake with James, while my mother and Gail had a wonder round the Old Bus Depot Markets and then waited for us to finish off our ride at James’s place on the lakeside.

Drove up to the car park at the side of the entrance and straight away my parents said that there were noticeably less people around than during the week. Outside the main buildings, there were several large exhibits including a chieftain tank, the front end of an old warship and an extremely large gun that fired shells that must have been two foot in diameter. Can’t remember if there was a set fee to enter the memorial, but we did put some gold coins into a box somewhere near the door. Inside the main foyer was a desk manned by some volunteers who told us that an hour and half tour of part of the site was starting within a few minute, so we hang around and tagged onto the group that formed at the allotted time. Our guide, an old vet from the Korean war, give us a very descriptive tour of the three or four of the main areas located inside the War memorial including the Commemorate Area which housed the Roll of Honour and the Hall of Memory (pictures below), exhibitions showing artefacts from the First and Second World Wars, the Hall of Valour which had on display most if not all the 98 VC awarded to Australians over the years and ANZAC Hall which had a collection of full sized planes from the early pioneering days of military aviation right up to the last of the propeller driven aircraft of the second world war.

This is where the tour ended and after thanking our guide, who was very interested in the fact that my granddad fought at Gallipoli, we visited the café for a bit of sustenance before returning the Aircraft Hall to experience the dramatic re-enactment of early dogfights in First World War plane as well as a bombing run over Germany by a Lancaster Bomber. By the time these had finished, we realised that time was against us and we didn’t have time to take in the remainder of the exhibitions that took in conflicts from 1945 to the present day. We did get to see inside the bridge of HMAS Brisbane (the front end of the battleship we saw outside) before we were invited to attend the sounding of the last post outside in the Commemorative Area. A very moving experience, surrounded by the names of the dead from all of the conflicts Australia has been involved in.

Standing outside, we all agreed that it had been a great experience and I for vowed that I would return to see the parts we didn’t get to see.

If you’re ever in Canberra, please, please, please make sure you spend part of your time at the Australian War Memorial,as you on’t be disappointed. It has taken me way too long to discover the rich history it contains.


Posted September 2, 2012 by yermandownunder in Out and about

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