On 13 July 1997 over 100,000 people (nearly half the population of the city at that time) gathered on the south shore of the western basin of Lake Burley Griffin for what was billed by the local Government as a celebration and great family day out.

People had gathered to watch the ‘implosion’ of the old Royal Canberra Hospital, 400 metres away across the lake on the Acton Peninsula. It was being removed to make way for the National Museum of Australia (depicted below – final photo – from different angle).

Things went wrong and, to summarise a subsequent 657 page report, the implosion became, in part an explosion and a 1kg piece of steel was catapulted across the lake striking 12 year old Katie Bender in the head and killing her instantly. Nine other people sustained serious injuries from flying debris.

The whole event remains controversial to this day for numerous reasons which I need not expand on here.

This simple memorial to Katie is located at the point where she was killed in this tragic incident, between Commonwealth Bridge and Lennox Gardens. The memorial’s inscription reads:

Katie Bender
Born 18 September 1984, Died 13 July 1997
On this day you were taken away,
Becoming an Angel in Heaven above
Sparkling eyes, beautiful long hair and a smile
That will last forever, as our love for you
Sadly missed by the family, friends and many
In the Canberra community
Now One of Canberra’s brightest stars


Memorial Location: Flynn Drive, Lennox Gardens

For my next CANBERRA – INNER SOUTH review click HERE.
For other CANBERRA reviews click HERE.


One thought on “Katie Bender Memorial

  1. How awful. A similar thing happened here when part of the Gorbals demolition was botched and a woman was killed. There’s no memorial but we (Glasgow Women’s Library) commemorate her as part of our Gorbals Women’s Heritage Walk.

    Liked by 1 person

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