Memorial launches world-first Hamel virtual reality experience

20 June 2018

Memorial launches world-first Hamel virtual reality experience

The Australian War Memorial has launched the Battle of Hamel virtual reality experience which uses the latest in VR technology to deliver a synchronised in-theatre experience for the first time worldwide.

During the ten-minute interactive, audiences of up to 45 people will wear VR headsets and headphones that will give them an up-close view of the battlefield at Le Hamel. It is the first time in the world that the newly-released Oculus Go VR headset has been used to create a synchronised interactive VR experience on this scale.

From 22 June to 22 July, the French countryside of the First World War will be brought to virtual life in the Memorial’s theatre. Audiences will be immersed in the story of this key action fought on 4 July 1918 on the Western Front.

Audiences will hear how Lieutenant General Sir John Monash meticulously planned the battle, before they choose to continue from the perspective of an airman, infantryman, or tank crewman. Aircraft, tanks and the battlefield will be presented in a combination of 3D and 360-degree video.

Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson said it was important to showcase new technologies as avenues to tell the stories of the likes of Sir John Monash, considered one of history’s greatest Australians. 

“On 4 July 1918 the Australian Corps, led by General Sir John Monash, was victorious at the battle of Hamel. Leading Australian soldiers alongside Americans for the first time in history, Monash meticulously planned out the battle to last 90 minutes – it took 93.

“This immersive technology gives people today a unique insight into the events at Hamel almost 100 years ago. I encourage everyone with an interest to book your free ticket the Hamel VR Experience and learn a bit more about what men like Monash did for us.

“Importantly the Hamel VR experience uses the Memorial’s own artefacts to present the story of the battle and its human dimensions, avoiding any semblance of entertainment,” Dr Nelson said. 

Managing Director of Start VR Angus Stevens says the Battle of Hamel virtual reality experience presents a piece of Australian history in an entirely new light.

“By merging the Memorial’s archival material with a VR rendering of the battle, people can see, hear, and feel history in a way never before encountered.

“To create a world first, leveraging VR technology that’s barely a few months old is in itself fantastic, but to know that this experience will unlock a key moment in Australia’s history that many people are unaware of, makes it all the more exciting,” Mr Stevens said.

To book tickets for Battle of Hamel virtual reality experience, which was developed with the support of Boeing Australia, go to the Memorial’s website.

Battle of Hamel in Virtual Reality