Frequently asked questions about the Last Post Ceremony
What is the Last Post Ceremony?
Each day at 4.55 pm AEST, the Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony. The ceremony begins with the singing of the Australian National Anthem, followed by the poignant strains of a Lament, played by a piper. Visitors are invited to lay wreaths and floral tributes beside the Pool of Reflection. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour will be told. The Ode is then recited, and the ceremony ends with the sounding of the Last Post.
Whose stories are told at the ceremony?
The Roll of Honour in the Cloisters lists the names of more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations over more than a century. At each ceremony the story behind one of these names will be told.
How can I find out whose stories are being told?
The Last Post Ceremony calendar lists the name of the man or woman whose story is being presented on a particular day.
How can I commemorate a particular person?
You can request a ceremony. As there is a lot of interest in the Last Post Ceremony, we get a large volume of requests and often, multiple requests for ceremonies on the same day. We are not always able to guarrantee when a particular story can be told.
However, we do encourage visitors to participate in the ceremony by laying wreaths regardless of the story being presented on that day.
To request a ceremony, please first read the Last Post Ceremony Guidelines before submitting a request.
Who writes the stories?
Each of the 364 Last Post stories told each year is carefully researched and written by Australian War Memorial historians. There is no existing library of stories for each individual on the Roll of Honour
This project brings together source material held in a variety of cultural institutions, and to write the stories of the individual servicemen and servicewomen featured in the daily ceremonies our historians draw on the Memorial’s own collection and that of the National Archives of Australia, as well as various other archives and library resources. Some service records have been digitised, but many have not. Some records are yet to be examined. As such, the storywriting process can be a lengthy one.
How can I view the ceremony online?
To enable anyone anywhere in Australia or overseas to view the Last Post Ceremony, it is streamed live daily on the Memorial's Facebook page, and on our dedicated Last Post Ceremony YouTube Channel from 4.55 pm AEST.
The live broadcast of the Last Post Ceremony is proudly supported by the RSL & Services Clubs Association and RSL Victoria.
I missed the live webcast. Can I view it after the ceremony?
We record as many of the ceremonies as we can. Sometimes technical difficulties mean the recording is not available. You can see a full list of the films on this website and you can also use our search to find a specific ceremony.
It can take 3-6 weeks from the date of the ceremony until the footage is available on our website.
Copies of the ceremony can be purchased through online ordering at email@example.com.
Can I share the photographs I took of the ceremony?
You are welcome to take film and/or photograph the ceremony. If you would like to share photos you took at a Last Post Ceremony here at the Memorial, you can:
- post them on our Facebook page
- add them to our Australian War Memorial group on Flickr
- tell us about them on Twitter; we are @AWMemorial
- tag @AWMemorial on Instragram
What time does the ceremony start and finish?
The ceremony commences at 4.55 pm and usually finishes no later than 5.15 pm. Visitors are encouraged to take their positions in the Commemorative Area no later than 4.45 pm.
What is the format of the ceremony?
Each ceremony follows the same format:
- The Memorial's Master of Ceremonies starts with a brief introduction
- The National Anthem is played and sung
- A piper plays a lament, during which visitors can lay wreaths and floral tributes at the base of the Pool of Reflection
- A serving member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) attends every ceremony to read the story of the person on the Roll of Honour being honoured
- The member of the ADF recites the Ode
- A bugler plays the Last Post
- The Master of Ceremonies ends the ceremony with a final reflection.
Who reads the story at the ceremony?
Men and women of the Australian Defence Force volunteer each day to read the story and recite the Ode. This is an important part of the ceremony and reminds us all that we are honouring the service and sacrifice of the men and women of Australia's military forces, including the ADF, and peacekeepers.
What is the history of the Last Post Ceremony?
The first Last Post Ceremony was held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on 17 April 2013. It commemorated the service and sacrifice of Private Robert Poate, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.
So began a tradition: the Last Post Ceremony is now held at the Memorial each day at 4.55 pm AEST. Each ceremony follows the same format, but each is a different and very moving occasion. With the daily Last Post Ceremony the Memorial farewells its visitors with a tribute to an Australian named on the Roll of Honour. Each ceremony tells the story behind just one of the more than 102,700 names on the bronze panels that line the walls of the Commemorative Area. It is a testament to the terrible cost of war that it will take nearly 300 years to commemorate every person on the Roll of Honour, and the Memorial is committed to ensuring that each story will eventually be told.
Can schools attend and participate in the ceremony?
Schools wishing to attend, or lay a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. However, please be aware, due to limited capacity in the Commemorative area, a request does not guarantee attendance.
Can I lay a wreath at the ceremony?
Visitors are welcome to lay wreaths at the base of the Pool of Reflection during the ceremony. Should you wish to do so, please make yourself known to front-of-house staff in the Orientation Gallery no later than 4 pm on the day of the ceremony. Commemorative cards on wreaths and floral tributes will be catalogued and archived by the Memorial, and kept in perpetuity.
What are some of the notable Last Post Ceremonies?
The first Last Post Ceremony commemorated the service and sacrifice of Private Robert Poate, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012. The Poate family was in attendance and laid a wreath at the base of the Pool of Reflection in honour of their son and brother. Also in attendance were several high-ranking political, diplomatic, and military dignitaries, including the Chief of the Defence Force, the three service chiefs, and members of the public. The story of Private Poate was read by Corporal Daniel Keighran VC.
Each ceremony tells the personal story behind just one of those on the Roll of Honour. However, on Remembrance Day 2013 Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG read out the story of the one person who represents all of those on the Roll of Honour: the Unknown Australian Soldier. On this occasion, Corporal Roberts-Smith read the eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier to mark the twentieth anniversary of his interment in the Hall of Memory in 1993. The eulogy will henceforth be read at the Last Post Ceremony each Remembrance Day to commemorate all of those Australians who have died in war or on other operations.
On 6 August 2013, to align with the opening of the exhibition Afghanistan: the Australian story, Lieutenant General David Morrison, Chief of Army, and Warrant Officer David Ashley, Warrant Officer of the Army, read out the names of the 40 Australian soldiers who lost their lives in the war in Afghanistan. The ceremony was attended by families of those servicemen; Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia; the Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Leader of the Opposition; General David Hurley, Chief of the Defence Force; the three service chiefs; and many Friends of the Australian War Memorial.
- The Last Post Ceremony that commemorated the service and sacrifice of Private Poate as read by Corporal Daniel Keighran VC, 17 April 2013
- The Last Post Ceremony that commemorated the Unknown Australian Soldier as read by Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, 11 November 2013
- The Last Post Ceremony in which Corporal Mark Donaldson read the story of Gunner Walter Carmody
- The Last Post Ceremony commemorating those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, 6 August 2013
Who can I contact for more information?
Requests for further information relating to the Last Post Ceremony can be directed to email@example.com