Canberra

Friday 22nd January 2016

 

We spent most of yesterday and this morning at the Australian War Memorial which stands on a hill looking down Anzac Parade towards Parliament House.

 

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Looking down Anzac Drive to Parliament House.                                                               The Australian War Memorial.

 

It is a combination of a shrine, a museum and an archive.  Its stated purpose is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war, and to help Australians remember and understand the Australian experience of war and its impact on their society.  We found it to be a very interesting and moving place.  Yesterday we attended the Last Post Ceremony which they hold just before closing each day.

 

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These medieval stone lions stand guard just inside the entrance.  They once guarded the Menin Gate at Ypres.

 

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The Pool of Remembrance and Eternal Flame.                    One of the cloisters housing the Roll of Honour 

 

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On each side the cloisters hold the brass plaques containing the names of the 102,815 Australian men and women who died in conflict or in

peace-keeping.  Names only, no ranks or awards, to show equality in death.  The poppies are inserted by visitors, next to the names.

 

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The Eternal Flame...                                                                                                        ...which continued to burn throughout this heavy downpour.

 

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Inside the Shrine                                                                               The tomb of the unknown Australian soldier.

 

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The domed ceiling and stained glass windows depicting servicemen and women, inside the Shrine.

 

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The Last Post Ceremony held every day.                                                                                The piper and bugler outside the entrance to the Shrine.

 

The museum is extensive and has excellent exhibits.  We joined a guided tour to get an overview of the museum, and Steve later joined the tour of the World War I exhibit which had excellent dioramas of battles.  He also spent time in the WWII and post 1945 exhibits. 

 

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The WWI dioramas were very good at giving a real impression of what trench warfare must have been like.

 

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A7V Sturmpanzerwagen Mephisto – one of the first German tanks built, took part in an attack at Villeurs-Bretonneux in April 1918.

It is now the only one of its kind left in the world and the Aussies have flatly refused German requests to return it!

 

There was so much to see and take in that Steve would have stayed a week if I had not eventually managed to get him away at lunchtime today!

I wanted to visit the National Museum of Australia on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, so after lunch that’s where we went.  Perhaps we should have done this one first, because after the War Memorial it was quite a bit of a let-down. The best exhibit, ironically, was temporarily on loan from the British Museum.  It was a display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts which had been taken back to the UK soon after settlers arrived here.  It begged all sorts of questions about the rights and wrongs of settlement by the British, but at least by being taken away from Australia the artefacts had survived.  Perhaps now would be a good time to return them to their homeland.