Sunday 21 August 2011


The Shrine of Remembrance is Victoria’s largest and most visited war memorial and is probably Melbourne’s most recognised landmark. It is a permanent and lasting memorial to the ANZAC spirit and recognises those who served and those who died in the Great War of 1914-1918 and armed conflicts and peacekeeping duties since. The Shrine is located on Melbourne’s most recognised boulevard, St Kilda Road, just south of the Melbourne central business district.

Designed by architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop who were both World War I veterans, the Shrine is in a classical style, being based on the Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus and the Parthenon in Athens. Built from Tynong granite, the Shrine originally consisted only of the central sanctuary surrounded by the ambulatory.

The Shrine went through a prolonged process of development which began in 1918 with the initial proposal to build a Victorian memorial. Two committees were formed, the second of which ran a competition for the memorial's design. The winner was announced in 1922. However, opposition to the proposal (led by Keith Murdoch and The Herald) forced the governments of the day to rethink the design, and a number of alternatives were proposed, the most significant of which was the ANZAC Square and cenotaph proposal of 1926. In response, General Sir John Monash used the 1927 ANZAC Day march to garner support for the Shrine, and finally won the support of the Victorian government later that year. The foundation stone was laid on 11 November 1927, and the Shrine was officially dedicated on 11 November 1934.

The Eternal Flame, a permanent gas flame set just to the west of the north face, and the World War II Memorial, a 12.5-metre-high cenotaph a little further west, are a further tribute tot Australia's men and women who served in the armed forces, and some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

A close-up of the sculpture on top of the 12.5 high memorial cenotaph, adjacent to the Eternal Flame.

Inside the Shrine is the central sanctuary surrounded by the ambulatory.

The majestic stepped ceiling leads the eye up the vaulted space, to the skylight. A simple entabulature is carried on sixteen tall fluted Ionic columns and supports a frieze with twelve relief panels sculptured by Lyndon Dadswell, depicting the armed services at work and in action during World War.

At the centre of the Sanctuary is the Stone of Remembrance. This is a marble stone sunk below the pavement, so that visitors must bow their heads to read the inscription on it: GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN.  The inscription is part of a verse from the Bible (John 15:13):  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". The Stone is aligned with an aperture in the roof of the Sanctuary so that a ray of sunlight falls on the word LOVE on the Stone of Remembrance at exactly 11 a.m. on 11 November, marking the hour and day of the Armistice which ended World War I. Since the introduction of daylight saving in Victoria, the ray of sunlight is no longer in the right place at 11 a.m. A mirror has been installed to direct sunlight onto the Stone at 11 a.m. During the rest of the year, a light is used to simulate the effect, as seen here.

Here is the central Sanctuary, showing the southern door that leads to the Ambulatory.

The Sanctuary is surrounded by an Ambulatory, or passage, along which are forty-two bronze caskets containing hand-written, illuminated Books of Remembrance with the names of every Victorian who enlisted for active service with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) or Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in World War I or died in camp prior to embarkation.

Detail of one of the illuminated Books of Remembrance.

The stairs leading down to the Crypt.

One of the medallions on the wall of the Crypt.

Beneath the Sanctuary is the Crypt containing a bronze statue of a father and son, representing the two generations who served in the two world wars. Around the walls are panels listing every unit of the AIF, down to battalion and regiment, along with the colours of their shoulder patch. The Crypt is hung with the standards of various battalions and regiments, listing their battle honours.

The statues of the Father and Son are standing back to back, and are dressed in their respective battle uniforms. This statue honours the courage and sacrifice that links two succeeding generations of Victorians who served and died in two World Wars. Furthermore, it is symbolic of the service of many Victorian families, where the father served during World War I, and the son served during World War II. There were only 21 years between these conflicts. The art work was unveiled in 1968, and was sculpted by Raymond Ewers.

The passage from the Crypt to the Education Centre and Museum.

The gallery of Medals has a 40-metre-long wall displaying around 4000 medals, each symbolically representing 100 Victorians who have served in war and peacekeeping operations, and six who have died. A feature of the gallery is the Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Robert Grieve during the Battle of Messines in 1917. The Cross was lent to the Shrine by Wesley College, Melbourne.

A small museum space holds many artefacts, photographs, paintings, sculptures, uniforms and equipment related to the armed services and Australia's war efforts.

HMAS Australia, Souvenir 12 April 1924, Sydney Heads NSW, Photographer Unknown. This photograph of HMAS Australia is framed with wood taken from her deck prior to scuttling. Under the terms of the Washington Treaty (1921), the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy was sunk near inner South Head, Sydney on 12 April 1924.

A war memorial in Melbourne was proposed as soon as the war ended in November 1918. In the early 1920s the Victorian state government appointed the War Memorials Advisory Committee, chaired by Sir Baldwin Spencer, which recommended an "arch of victory" over St Kilda Road. In August 1921 an executive committee was formed, with the former commander of the Australian forces in the war, General Sir John Monash, as its driving force. Monash, who was also an engineer, took personal charge of the construction of the Shrine, which began in 1928 and was handled by the contractors Vaughan & Lodge. Monash died in 1931, before the Shrine was finished, but the Shrine was the cause "closest to his heart" in his later years. John Monash is remembered today not only by his legacy of the Shrine, but also commemorated by Monash University and is the face on one side of the Australian $100 banknote.

Flights of stairs lead up from the Ambulatory to the external Balcony, from which one can admire views of the City and surrounds. Here, we are looking towards the North and the CBD.

The view towards the West, Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay.

View towards the East, showing the grounds of the Governor's Residence and the Melbourne Observatory.

There are over 120 ceremonies per year hosted by the Shrine of Remembrance. August 18 is Vietnam Veterans Day. Originally it was a day to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan in 1966 but now it has been adopted by all veterans. A wreath was ceremonially laid at the Sanctuary by this small group.

Marching up to  the Shrine to lay the wreath.

The design of the Shrine is based on the ancient Mausoleum of Maussolus at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Parthenon in Athens. It is a structure of square plan roofed by a stepped pyramid and entered on the north and south through classical porticos, each of eight fluted Doric columns supporting a pediment containing sculpture in high relief. The porticos are approached by wide flights of steps which rise in stages to the podium on which the Shrines sits.The east and west facing fronts are marked at the corners by four groups of statuary by Paul Raphael Montford, representing Peace, Justice, Patriotism and Sacrifice. The Art Deco style and motifs draw on Greek and Assyrian sculpture. The symbolism is Neo-Classical. Here is the statue of Justice, on the southeastern corner.

This is the statue of Sacrifice on the southwestern corner.

At the top of the northern and southern entrances to the Shrine are the porticos. Eight Doric columns support the porticos. Each of these columns is five metres high and supports the tympana. Carved on the northern tympanum is a representation of ‘The Call to Arms’. The central winged figure represents the ‘Mother Country’. She is surrounded by symbols of the confusion of war which depict the young, the old and the warriors.

The carvings on the southern tympanum represent the homecoming, with the symbols of ongoing education, industry and agriculture. The youth in the centre of the carving stands in a shell drawn by the horses of Neptune, representing the return from overseas.

The 'Garden of Remembrance' on th western side of the Shrine was opened in 1985 to recognise those who fought in conflicts after World War 2.The names of those conflicts – Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Kuwait, the Balkans, Cambodia, Somalia and East Timor - are engraved on the stone wall cut into the hillside.The pool and rippling water create a simple, peaceful memorial. A granite stone in the pool bears the words: LEST WE FORGET.

Around the various trees are plaques commemorating specific groups that fought in these conflicts. In this case, a wreath was laid on this particular plaque on August 18 for Vietnam Veterans Day.

On Monday 21 July 2008, a memorial to Australian soldiers killed at devastating Battle of Fromelles on the Western Front in World War I, was unveiled by Victorian Premier John Brumby and the Mayor of Fromelles Hubert Huchette. The memorial, a bronze statue of ‘Cobbers’ by renowned Melbourne sculptor Peter Corlett, has been installed on the Shrine precinct close to St Kilda Road. The statue immortalises the courage and willingness of Australian soldiers to risk their lives to save their mates, who lay wounded in the murderous no-man’s-land between the warring armies.

The Battle of Fromelles is the worst day in Australia’s military history - with more than 2000 killed and over 3500 wounded. Victoria’s 15th Brigade, led by Brigadier “Pompey” Elliott, bore the brunt of the casualties. The statue of Cobbers is the twin of the award-winning original sculpted by Peter Corlett and erected at Fromelles in 1998. Sergeant Simon Fraser, one of the heroes of Fromelles, and a farmer from Byaduck, near Hamilton, is shown in the sculpture carrying his cobber home to the Shrine, where all those Victorians who have fought for their country are eternally remembered. In his diary, Fraser recorded being in no-man’s-land, and finding a wounded soldier, whom he was unable to carry alone. As he turned to go back for a stretcher party, another wounded man called out: “Don’t forget me, cobber!” Fraser came back with a stretcher party and rescued both men. It was this moment of bravery and mateship that Peter Corlett has dramatised in bronze.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.                                      From "in Flanders Fields" by John McCrae

Lest we Forget


  1. Great series of photos. Amazing building and museum.

  2. What a fantastic building and great exhibition! Like your photos and captions, make me feel like I visited there.

  3. Many thanks! I have added a link to my post on the Shine because your photos are so good. But here is another thing. Sometimes you can look at an object many times and still not see.

    I didn't know or had forgotten that the Father and Son statue honoured the sacrifice that linked two succeeding generations in WW1 and WW2. In 1914, noone knew what to expect - that WW1 would be the worst nightmare known on earth.
    But only one generation later, in 1939, we DID know.


  4. These are amazing photos Nicholas and the information that accompanies them is most interesting. I felt like I was having a guided tour of this great building!

  5. Excellent photos of this Melbourne iconic building with interesting comments!

  6. Wow! Amazing photos of a gorgeous building with so much history and meaning....

  7. Occult architecture. Veneration of the dead.