The Australian War Memorial is a place for remembrance and learning, where you can remember Australian soldiers who have lost their lives and also learn about Australia's war history. It is a place of respect, that honours those who did not make it home from war, and those whose lives afterwards have been affected, without glorifying the war efforts of the country.
With such a controversial topic a lot of care needs to go into a place like the Australian War Memorial, and even after a short walk around you can tell this has definitely been done. The memorial doesn't only tell the stories of Australia's war effort, but it shows the faces of those who fought, those who died, and those who kept things going back at home. These faces help remind you that the memorial is not so much about the politics of war, but the people involved.
There are three distinct sections, The First World War, The Second World War, and Australia at War Post 1945. Each has their own individual areas that explore different parts of the war, different places where battles were placed, and the various people who were a part of it. The museum uses interactive displays, simulators, paintings, artefacts, and dioramas and models to help illustrate each chapter in Australia's history. The museum tells the story from Australia's side, not every conflict is explored fully, but it gives an insight into Australia's side of things.
There are a few particularly poignant sections of the museum and memorial. Inside the Hall of Valour shines with the medals won during the war, set under the faces of their owners. Each photo has its own story regarding the act for which the medal was won. Here you will also find the photos of Australian Prisoners of War, of whom one in three perished. More people are remembered outside, where names emblazon the walls, and poppies stick between the cracks.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a stunning sight to see. Inside beautiful stain glass windows depict the Army, Navy, and Airforce men and women who have lost their lives at wars, as do the murals on the wall. The tomb is guarded by four members of the Defence Force, and it represents every serviceman and woman who has lost their life while at war. While some people choose to take photos posing in the tomb and by the soldiers guarding it, it is respectful not to, and to instead take in the emotion of the place.
There is so much to learn and see at the Australian War Memorial. Whether you agree or disagree with Australia's current war efforts, it is undeniable that too many Australian men and women have died at war. The memorial is for them, and shows an important side to Australian history.
When you're done at the memorial you can enjoy a walk back through the gardens that surround it, and see the other tributes that lay around the path and gardens. There are plenty of shady spots to sit and contemplate the memorial.
The Australian War Memorial is open 10am-5pm daily, except on Christmas Day. Entry is free, and there are also free guided tours if you want to learn even more in the museum.