Australian War Memorial

Missing image
ANZAC Day Dawn Service at AWM, 25 April 2005, 90th anniversary

The Australian War Memorial is Australia's national memorial to the members of all its armed forces and supporting organizations who have died in the wars of the modern state of Australia.

The Memorial is located in Australia's capital, Canberra. It is the northern terminus of the city's ceremonial axis, which stretches from Parliament House on Capital Hill near the center of the city to the War Memorial at the base of Mt Ainslie to the northeast. No continuous roadway links the two points, but there is a clear line of sight from the front balcony of Parliament House to the War Memorial, and from the front steps of the War Memorial back to Parliament House.

The Australian War Memorial consists of four major elements: ANZAC Parade, a commemorative area, a museum, and a sculpture garden. As of this writing the commemorative area and museum are open daily until 5PM, except on Christmas Day. The Parade and sculpture garden are open continuously.


ANZAC Parade

ANZAC Parade is a short, broad boulevard named in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It stretches from near the north shore of Lake Burley Griffin to the foot of the Memorial proper, along the line of sight from Parliament House, and separates the residential suburbs of Campbell and Reid. Along each side of the Parade is a row of monuments commemorating specific military campaigns or services, such as the Vietnam War and Australia's wartime nurses. The monuments are mostly sculptures in a variety of styles ranging from naturalistic to Modern.

The foot of the Parade, near the lake, is paired by monumental sculptures in the form of gigantic basket handles, donated to the Memorial by New Zealand. The two monuments are dedicated to Australia and New Zealand, respectively, and are inspired by the Maori proverb Mau tena kiwai o te kete, maku tenei, "Each of us at a handle of the basket", signifying the long tradition of cooperation between the two countries.

Behind the two rows of monuments are narrow bands of eucalyptus trees, and behind the trees are narrow residential streets paralleling the Parade and separating it from the residential neighborhoods. In the high summer, cicadas in the eucalyptus trees can be heard from several blocks away.

The commemorative area

Towards the entrance of the Hall of Memory, from within.
Towards the entrance of the Hall of Memory, from within.

The Memorial proper is sited on a broad pie-slice shaped lawn at the northern end of ANZAC Parade. The museum lies beneath and around the commemorative area, and the sculpture garden is on the lawn to the west.

The heart of the commemorative area is the Hall of Memory, a tall domed chapel with a small floor plan in the form of a rough octagon. The walls are lined with tiny mosaic tiles from the floor to the dome. Inside lies Australia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other monuments.

Missing image
Detail of the dome from inside the Hall of Memory.

Three of the walls, facing roughly east, west, and south, feature stained glass designs representing qualities of soldiers. At the four walls facing roughly northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest, are mosaic images of three soldiers, with the southwest, an image of a service woman (in the image to the right).

Missing image

In front of the Hall of Memory is a narrow courtyard with a memorial pool surrounding an eternal flame and flanked by sidewalks and shrubbery. Above the courtyard to either side are long cloisters containing the Roll of Honour, a series of bronze plaques naming the 102,000 Australians soldiers killed in conflict. The plaques contain names going back to the British Sudanese Expedition, the Boer War, and the Boxer Rebellion. The entire long wall of the western gallery is covered with the names of the thousands who died in World War I. The eastern gallery is covered with the names of those who died in World War II and more recent conflicts. Visiting relatives and friends insert poppies in the cracks between the bronze plaques, beside the names of their loved ones that they wish to honour; many continue to be inserted by the names of those who died in World War I, and a few even appear by the names of those who died in the Nineteenth Century campaigns.

(A small exhibit in the museum indicates that the famous Breaker Morant of the Boer War does not appear in the Roll of Honour, not because he was dishonoured, but rather because he was not actually a member of the Australian armed forces.)

When the Memorial closes each day there is a brief ceremony where visitors can gather at the entrance, hear a very brief explanation from a host, and watch as a piper or a bugler descends from the gallery, playing the Last Post.

The commemorative area is the main place in Canberra where Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services are held. These services are normally attended by Federal parliament representatives and embassy officials, most notably New Zealand.

The museum

Missing image
Ghosts of Menin Gate, Artwork by Will Longstaff.

The museum is a two-story building with a floor plan in the shape of a cross, beneath and around the courtyard of the commemorative area, with a broad annex called ANZAC Hall to the north.

Missing image
The List of fallen soldier during WWI held at the Australian War Memorial, ACT

The upper level is dedicated primarily to World War I (the entire west wing) and World War II (the entire east wing). In the World War I area there is extensive material pertaining to the Gallipoli campaign. Between the wings lies Aircraft Hall, which contains a number of complete aircraft, mostly from the World War II era.

Also between the wings lies the Hall of Valour, a display of most of the Victoria Crosses ever awarded to Australian soldiers. There is an individual display for the holder of each Cross shown there, with a photograph, an excerpt from the citation that accompanied the award, and usually additional medals awarded to the same soldier. (The relatives of Australian VC holders often donate or loan the Crosses to the Memorial for safekeeping and greater public awareness of their honoured kin.)

The lower level contains a theatre, a research area, displays for the Colonial and Post World War II conflicts, and an area for temporary special exhibitions.

ANZAC Hall is a large annex to the upper level of the museum, used for the display of large military hardware. Notable displays include a complete and particularly historic Lancaster bomber known as G for George, a Japanese midget submarine sunk during a raid on Sydney Harbour in 1942, rare German aircraft such as the Me 262 and Me 163, and a Mark IV tank of the familiar World War I design.

The museum is large and the collections are extensive; a full day will suffice for only the most cursory examination of its contents.

The museum also offers a gift shop, two coffee shops.

The sculpture garden

The sculpture garden on the west lawn of the Memorial contains a variety of outdoor monuments. The sidewalk through the garden is embedded with bronze plaques commemorating various branches of service, specific units, and historical events. There are also a number of sculptures, including a gigantic figure of a World War I era Australian soldier which was originally located in the Hall of Memory, before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed there. There are also a couple of small gun turrets from naval vessels and the barrel of a huge railroad gun captured from the Germans during World War I.

History of the national memorial

Charles Bean, Australia's official first world war historian first conceived a musuem memorial to Australian soldiers while observing the 1916 battles in France. The Australian War Records Section was established in 1917 to ensure preservation of records relating to the war being fought at the time. Records and relics were exhibited first in Melbourne and later Sydney.

An architectural competition in 1927 did not produce a winning entry. However, two entrants were encouraged to represent a joint design. A limited budget and the effects of the Depression confined the scope of the project.

The building was completed in 1941, after the outbreak of the second world war. Additions since the 1940s have allowed the remembrance of Australia's participation in other more recent conflicts.

Directors of the AWM have included:

1920-1952 Major John L. Treloar (1894-1952) c1958 - Major J McGrath 1996-present Major General Steve Gower, AO

Remembrance Driveway

The Remembrance Park behind the War Memorial is the Canberra terminus of the Remembrance Driveway, a system of arboreal parks, landmarks and road-side stops between Sydney and Canberra commemorating the 24 Victoria Cross World War II and Vietnam War Victoria Cross winners.

Missing image
The Australian War Memorial at the base of Mount Ainslie

External links


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools