The Sculpture Garden found around the Australian War Memorial was established in January 1999 with the aim of offering a place for quiet contemplation of the sacrifice of the many Australians who have died in war. It does this very well.
Many visitors underestimate the time it takes to visit the Australian War Memorial itself with the result that no time is left to have a look at the sculptures around the memorial. Allow a minimum of 3 hrs for the Memorial and Sculpture Garden. Add 1.5hrs if you wish to visit the National memorials on Anzac Parade which I highly recommend you do.
Among the the sculptures in the Sculpture Garden you will find:
Simpson and his donkey, 1915 – Peter Collett
This sculpture, the most visited and loved in the Sculpture Garden is all about the ANZAC story and spirit. A story of courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The story of a soldier – a stretcher bearer, Simpson, enduring pain, injury, fatigue and emotionally drained who perseveres against the odds to save his friends – his mates. A true act of humanity and self sacrifice. Simpson or Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick (arguably Australia’s most famous soldier) took part in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915 and became famous with his donkey for ferrying water in to troops in Shrapnel Gully and ferrying wounded men back out under continual shell fire. He was killed on 19 May 1945 after less than 4 weeks service.
Survivors – Dennis Adams
This memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of Australian merchant seamen who manned ships around the world during the First and Second World Wars.
Often, like nurses, merchant seamen are often overlooked though their support through carrying troops and supplies was vital to the success of the war effort.
Bomber Command Memorial –Neil Dawson
This rather odd shaped sculpture commemorates the service and sacrifice of the RAAF air and ground crew who served and died with Bomber Command during the Second World War. The memorial includes a symbolised searchlight beam (Bomber Command operated at night), images of air and ground crew as silhouetted figures in the form of a curved stainless steel wall and stencils of the eight plane types flown (Halifax, Wellington, Lancaster, Mosquito, Stirling, Blenheim, Whitely and Hampden) and a glass plate at the base of the searchlight beam.
Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop – Peter Collett
This work, a life-size statue of Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop, commemorates the medical staff who came to the aid of Australian prisoners of war in the Pacific in the Second World War. From another of my tips you will be aware that “Weary’ Dunlop dedicated the rebuilt Changi Chapel at the Royal Military College at Duntroon in 1988. Dunlop was, himself, a prisoner of war and surgeon at Changi Prison Camp in Singapore.
Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial – James Parrett
This 2012 addition to the Sculpture Garden commemorates those Australians who died in the defence of Rabaul (Papua New Guinea), and those who later died as prisoners in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru.
Many Australians were killed during and in the aftermath of the Japanese invasion of Rabaul in January 1942. In late June 1942 more than 1000 Australian servicemen and civilians left Rabaul on the Montevideo Maru. All on board died when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an American submarine off the Philippines coast on 1 July. While this was Australia’s largest maritime tragedy several other Japanese ships carrying Australian prisoners met the same fate through ‘friendly” fire.
The circular forms in stainless steel are intended to depict waves with the large sweeping curves conveying both the power of the sea and the magnitude of the tragedy.
Bellona and the Lone Pine Tree
Bellona is Canberra’s first statue / memorial dating back to 1926 and has a fascinating history of being loved and hated and being moved on numerous occasions before finally(?) coming to rest at the War Memorial in 1999. I have prepared a separate review on Bellona – one of Canberra’s icons. – Bellona – The Offensive Goddess.
Belonna is located near the Lone Pine tree. This tree was raised from one of the seeds of a pine cone sent home by an Australian soldier at Gallipoli to his mother. It was planted at the Memorial in 1934 in memory of all the sons of Australia who fell at Lone Pine. You can see a picture of the tree on my Bellona review.
Animals in War Memorial (also main picture above)
This (one of my favourite statutes in Canberra) memorial is a joint project between the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The memorial commemorates those animals that served alongside Australians in all conflicts.
The centrepiece of the memorial is a large bronze horse head, the only remaining fragment from the original Desert Mounted Corps memorial – installed in Port Said, Egypt and unveiled in 1932 by Australia’s wartime Prime Minister Billy Hughes. In 1956 the Desert Mounted Corps memorial was destroyed by rioters during the Suez Crisis. The remaining fragments of this memorial were returned to Australia.
The original memorial was replaced by two copies in Australia, one of which can be found on Anzac Parade . See my separate review for details of the new memorials.
National Service Memorial
The National Service Memorial was dedicated on Wednesday, 8 September, 2010.
This memorial remembers all National Servicemen who died on active service and commemorates some 290,000 plus men called up (conscripted) in two schemes between 1951 and 1972 for service in the army navy and air-force.
The sandstone plinth matches the walls of Australian War Memorial and symbolises the earth and Army; the water in the bronze bowl symbolises the Navy; and sky reflected in the polished black granite slab symbolises the Air Force.
The most remembered use of conscripted personnel was in the Vietnam War. From 1965 to 1972, 15,381 national servicemen served in the Vietnam War, of which 200 were killed and 1,279 wounded. Conscription for Vietnam provoked great debate within the Australian community, with university students and others taking part in large anti-conscription and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. The National Service Scheme was abolished on 5 December 1972.
Australian Servicewomen’s Memorial
This memorial, designed by Sydney sculptor, Anne Ferguson, commemorates all women who served, suffered and died in the defence of Australia.
For many women, the work they undertook during the Second World War provided a first taste of freedom and responsibility.
Visitors are invited to stand within the memorial and reflect on the service and sacrifice of Australian Servicewomen
Australian Serviceman’s Memorial
This, almost brutalist style, sculpture was initially commissioned for the Hall of Memory in 1954. It was completed in 1958 and installed in the Hall of Memory, which is where it was displayed until 1993. In 1993 it was removed from the Hall of Memory, when the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was installed.
The figure is intended to symbolise ‘young Australia’ in an attitude of determination and courage and in a spirit of achievement and hope for the future.
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