Normally War Memorials and Cenotaphs are centrally located within towns and cities and especially so in smaller country towns. Consequently, it did strike me as a little odd that Goulburn’s memorial, to those who served in World War I, should be situated a few kilometres away from the centre of the city on top of a prominent rocky outcrop.
On first sight the War Memorial looks more like one of the look-out towers that Goulburn residents are most familiar with outside the town’s high security prison or correctional centre. Some people also find the tower’s design to be reminiscent of the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was under construction at about the same time. In any event, the tower has become an iconic representation of Goulburn and a significant landmark for the local community.
Planning for the War Memorial actually commenced before the end of World War I and a number of designs were considered, including a Celtic cross and a column before a tower on top of Rocky Hill was settled upon. The 19.5 metre Art Deco square tower of stone conglomerate and concrete was officially opened by the New South Wales Governor, Sir Dudley De Chair, on 15 December 1925. The Memorial’s foundation stone was laid just over a year earlier, on ANZAC Day 1924 (April 25), by W J Bartlett who donated the hill to the people of Goulburn for the War Memorial.
The Goulburn Evening Penny Post reported on the opening that:
‘…it was now generally admitted that this was the finest memorial in Australia. The architect, Mr E.C. Manfred, had designed a tower which, rough and rugged in its beauty, conformed to the surrounding hill whereon it stood and which reminded them of the sturdy bravery of our illustrious soldiers’.
Inside the tower, at its base, is a simple wooden board inscribed with the words “Lest We Forget”, situated behind an eternal flame (electric!). To its right is a large white marble Honour Roll of the names of those who enlisted in World War I from the Goulburn area.
Access to the viewing gallery at the top of the Memorial is via an internal staircase which is adorned with photographs from WWI including some from Gallipoli – the site of Australia’s greatest casualties in World War I. A free booklet containing further details of each photo is available at the bottom of the stairs.
External access at the top of the Memorial is not permitted though this does not stop you getting spectacular views down to the city and surrounding countryside from all four sides of the memorial – so yes, it is still worth the climb up. If you can’t face the stairs the views from the top of the hill are almost as good but if you are like me you will climb it just because you can!
One thing to be aware of is that the car-park is small and only holds about twelve vehicles so it fills up quickly, especially at weekends. There is, however, lots of parking space about 100 metres back down the road so don’t let concerns over parking deter you from visiting.
Adjacent to the Memorial car park is an excellent museum housed in the former caretaker’s cottage together and a substantial new building, which opened in mid 2020. The exhibits here include two field guns captured from the enemy in WWI in addition to other weapons, personal items used by soldiers, memorabilia, medals and an original wooden door from the Changi Gaol, Singapore (WWII, of course). I have written a separate review on the museum which is ‘entry via gold coin donation ($1 or $2)’.
Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day services used to be held at this War Memorial. For some years now they have been held at the Honour Roll in Belmore Park, in the centre of Goulburn, where there is more space for parking and visitors.
The lookout is open 7 days a week from 7am-5pm though access into the Memorial is restricted to museum opening hours:
10am – 4pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday
10am – 4pm Saturday and Sunday
Also open 10am – 4pm all school and public holidays.
My next Goulburn review– HERE
Return to the beginning of my Goulburn reviews –HERE