Australian War Memorial

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Posted 2023-11-05 by Ashleigh Meiklefollow
Pool of Reflection

The Australian War Memorial is a world-class museum in Canberra, Australia that commemorates Australians who have fallen in the wars that we have served in throughout our history. Charles Bean first thought of it on the Western Front in 1916 – a place to keep relics from battle and commemorate those who had died. Even though collections began in 1917, the war memorial was not completed until 1941 – when Australia was in the middle of another world war.

Lone Pine Diorama

And since 1941, the Australian War Memorial has been a museum and place of commemoration. Currently, the war memorial is undergoing renovations at the main entrance, so there is a temporary entrance down the side, and you have to book free, timed entry tickets before you go – it’s very easy to do and access though, and I didn’t have an issue doing so. It is best to book when you plan your trip to Canberra,and make sure you can get the time you want.

Conscription Referendum 1916

The War Memorial has permanent exhibitions and galleries, and sometimes temporary ones. Whilst some things may not be on display during the renovations, there’s still quite a bit to see when you go. When you enter after having your ticket scanned, there are guides to help you work out where to start, or ask questions about what is open and what you can see, and they’re also scattered throughout the memorial to help you find what you are looking for, and as part of the memorial is under renovation at the moment, and the website has up to date information and relevant dates and changes to keep an eye on until these renovations are completed in the next few years.


The main galleries – First World War gallery, Second World War gallery, the Hall of Valour, as well as the Conflicts 1945 to Today and the Holocaust: Witnesses and Survivors are open, and when you go in the temporary entrance, you can see some of the planes used throughout wars and visit the giftshop, or do this on the way back out as you will currently exit this way as well. These galleries, as well as Afghanistan: The Australian Story, the Eternal Flame, and the Roll of Honour are the main features of the war memorial. Each gallery has a range of dioramas and artefacts as part of the collections and stories, highlighting each battle in war, and the contributions that Australians have made throughout the conflicts the nation has been involved in throughout the years that are commemorated at the war memorial.

Various figures are marked throughout as well, such as dedications to the nurses from World War I, the 103,000 names of Australians who have died in conflicts as part of the Australian armed forces, and how the war affected people on the front and at home, such as the conscription debate during World War I. There is a sense of solemnity here, no matter how many times you visit. The Roll of Honour is also filled with poppies that people have put by their names. The poppy is a symbol of Remembrance Day on the 11th of November. The Roll of Honour is above the Pool of Reflection, and easily accessible from the galleries – if you get lost, ask a guide for help.

Roll of Honour

One of the figures I was most interested in was Matron Vivian Bullwinkel, - a nurse who was the sole survivor of a massacre during the fall of Singapore, and who was captured and spent four years in a prisoner-of-war camp. It is stories like hers – the stories of women and what they did in the war that I find interesting. They give a broader context and understanding of how war affected everyone and show that there was more than just the battles and is a significant part of history that I was glad to see commemorated and acknowledged. The war memorial also provides information about each Victoria Cross recipient from the Boer War until recent conflicts,and the significance of this award in the military. The extensive information about conflicts, prisoner-of-war camps, battles, and all the names that are commemorated shows what an impact these wars have had on Australia. The website has lots of additional information about the conflicts and people, and Indigenous service in the wars that the Australian army and forces have been involved in since a conflict in Sudan in 1885 – at least, that’s how far back the Roll of Honour goes. It is a place where we can learn about the history of our military as well. Those whose names we know and the many we don’t, but whose contribution was also important. As a place of interest, the war memorial is educational and insightful – a reminder of the tragedies of war.

Matron Vivian Bullwinkel

Once you’re finished, you can head over to Poppy’s Café for lunch, named after one of the first Australian soldiers to die in Afghanistan. It is set to the side of the war memorial and is adjacent to the temporary entrance at the time of writing this article – keep an eye on the website for any updates and changes. Enjoy your visit and learn lots!

Fairbairn Ave
Campbell ACT 2612


Galleries: 10 am to 4 pm daily
(closed Christmas Day)

Last Post Ceremony: Entry at 4:20 pm Ceremony commences at 4:45 pm (last admittance at 4:50 pm)

Free entry, but prebook your ticket



267986 - 2023-11-05 03:22:57


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