Unfolding over the 75th anniversary year of the Australian War Memorial, A Home on a Southern Hill is a series of exhibitions which tell the story of how the Memorial was brought to being, as well as exploring its history and continuing relevance.

The series takes its name from a poem written by Will Dyson to accompany his 1928 cartoon, Calling Them Home, which depicts a ghostly bugler calling the spirits of Australia’s war dead to the yet-to-be-built Memorial.

They dreamed of leave that never came

The first exhibition in the series, also called A Home on a Southern Hill, is presented across two spaces in the Memorial – the Reg Saunders Gallery and the Reading Room.

The works presented in the Reg Saunders Gallery have been chosen to explore the conception and purposes of the Australian War Memorial: as a place for the living – to remember, grieve, and understand – and for the fallen – as a tomb fitting of their sacrifice, and a place for their spirit to reside.

The exhibition continues in the Reading Room to tell the story of the Memorial building from C.E.W. Bean’s initial sketch, through the 1925 architectural competition and the set-backs and controversies of the 1930s, to its official opening on 11 November 1941.

Further exhibitions in the series

The exhibition series continues in April with To Heal a Nation, which considers the ways in which Bean’s experiences shaped his vision for the Memorial and reflects on the nature of commemoration. 

Winter 2017 sees the third exhibition in the series, Telling their Stories, which explores the role of the Memorial’s museum and archival functions, from dioramas to digital experiences.  

The series concludes in September–November 2017 with The Memorial in Landscape, which focuses on the siting and landscaping of the Memorial.

The Holocaust reveals the extremes of humanity’s capacity for evil, as well as its spirit of endurance and survival. This exhibition represents the Holocaust through the experiences of some of the survivors who made new lives in post-war Australia, as well as those of Australian official war artist Alan Moore, who accompanied British troops as they liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

 

Bernard Slawik (1904-1991), Loading the freight cars to Belzec, drawn in either Janowska concentration cap, Lvov, Poland, c. 1943, or Sweden, c. 1946, pencil on paper.

In this drawing, Bernard Slawik - a prisoner of Janowska concentration camp Lvov, Poland - represents the freight cars that carried Jewish prisoners to the Belzec extermination camp, also in Poland. With its expressionist style and blunt account of death, this drawing provides a harrowing and deeply personal account of the callous and bureaucratic killing of Jews. Skulls dominate this image, signifying both the actual human remains evident in the death camps and the Death’s Head symbol worn by the SS troops who administered the camps.

Opening Remarks from the exhibition by our Director, The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson AO

The Holocaust: witnesses and survivors is located in the Second World War Gallery on the ground level.

Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson

The Australian War Memorial’s founder and official historian for the First World War, Charles Bean, landed on Gallipoli with Australian troops on 25 April 1915 and stayed with them to the end. It was in 1916 at Pozieres, where Australia suffered over 23,000 casualties in 6 weeks, that Bean conceived the idea for the Australian War Memorial.

From August 2014 until 2018, we will commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the scars it left and the pride we felt when we emerged from the other side. The events that took place 100 years ago meant a lot to us then and means a lot for our future.

The Australian War Memorial will be commemorating the Centenary of the First World War through a variety of projects.

Our main project involves the redevelopment of the Memorial’s First World War galleries that will be opening in late 2014. The new galleries will explore why Australia joined the war and who we were in 1914. The galleries will also take on a chronological approach to the display of events and feature collection items collected over the past 100 years, many of which are on display for the first time.

A temporary exhibition on the First World War called Anzac Voices has now opened. This exhibition focuses on the individual stories of sacrifice and features treasures from the Memorial’s archives, presenting the voices of the Anzacs through their personal letters and diaries.

From around August 2014 we will also be projecting the names of the 62,000 men and women on the First World War Roll of Honour panels onto the outside of the Memorial building. This project will continue over the four years of the centenary.

Within the Commemorative Area from November 2014 to November 2018, school children will read the names and ages of each individual on the First World War Roll of Honour panels which will play over discreet speakers placed throughout the cloisters. This is an important project that will reflect the individual sacrifices made by the men and women who fought for Australia in the First World War.

The Memorial will also be enhancing its website through a project called Anzac Connections. This new search function will bring together our rich collection as well as the National Archives collection to tell the stories of our soldiers.

Over 140,000 school children visit the Memorial a year, during the centenary, each child will write their name and school on a wooden cross. These crosses will then be placed on the graves of First World War Australian soldiers throughout Europe.

One project we are currently working on is a travelling exhibition for the First World War. This exhibition will travel to regional communities across the country to share the stories of our First World War soldiers. This will be done through the use of collection items, projections of photos onto community buildings, and, potentially, the display of large technology items. The exhibition will have a focus on the Western Front and in particular the battle of Passchendaele. The exhibition will begin travelling from the end of 2015 or early 2016.

What we do through the centenary is incredibly important as it links our past with our future. The sacrifices of the past reflect who we were then, who we are today, and who we want to be for the future.

Dr Brendan Nelson, National Press Club Address, 18 September 2013.

Our fully restored Lockheed Hudson Mark IV Bomber is now on display inside Canberra Airport near the Virgin Australia check-in counter.

 

The Lockheed Hudson: RAAF Workhorse

The Lockheed Hudson was one of the most versatile aircraft used by the Allied air forces in the early part of the Second World& War. It filled a desperate need for a long-range patrol/bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Based on a civilian airliner, it made its first flight in 1938, modified to include a bomb bay, positions for an operational crew of five, and defensive armament.

From 1939 the Royal Australian Air Force took delivery of 247 Hudsons. These were used in a variety of roles across the Pacific, North African, and Mediterranean theatres, including bombing and reconnaissance operations, air-to-sea rescue, transport, and convoy protection. The Hudson was one of the true “work horses” of the RAAF. 

This aircraft, A16-105, arrived in Australia in early December 1941 and was used to train RAAF aircrews. Between December 1942 and January 1943 it saw operational service in Papua and New Guinea, carrying out supply flights during the Allied advance on Buna on Papua’s north coast.

Restoration of Lockheed Hudson A16-105

After the Second World War, Hudson A16-105 was stripped of its military fittings and flown as a photographic survey aircraft.

Flight controls were re-routed, the nose was swapped for one without windows, and holes were cut in the bomb bay doors for camera equipment. It completed its last flight in 1998, and was purchased by the Australian War Memorial in 2001. 

The Memorial set about restoring the aircraft to its wartime configuration of December 1942. The project took 48 months to complete, and involved the fabrication of more than 5,800 parts and tools, extensive research on the colour scheme and internal fitout, the sourcing of replacement parts and spares through the aviation heritage network, and the reconditioning of the airframe. Reference material was limited, so the complete blueprint catalogue, acquired from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, became the Memorial’s planning bible.

Read more about the restoration process in a series of blogs written by the conservation team.

 

Proudly supported by: Virgin Australia               Canberra Airport

Artillerymen train at the Australian-run Afghan National Army Artillery School at Camp Alamo in Kabul, February 2011.

A new permanent display that expands the story of Australia’s involvement in conflicts in the Middle East from the First Gulf War to Afghanistan, opened to the public on the 6 October 2016.

The 150 square metre display is located within the existing Conflicts 1945 to today galleries, and canvasses Australia’s involvement in the First Gulf War, UN weapons inspections, Operation Habitat, the Maritime Interception Force,  as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is the first major upgrade to the Conflicts 1945 to today galleries since they opened in December 2007.

The display includes 218 items from the Memorial’s collection and on loan from current and former Australian Defence Force personnel.

The Afghanistan section features Explosive Detection Dog Sarbi, donated by her handler, Corporal David Simpson.

Sarbi went missing in action during the engagement in which Corporal Mark Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross. After 13 months, Sarbi was recovered by US forces and reunited with her unit and handler. The Purple Cross medal awarded to her in recognition of her courage, strength, resilience and service is also on display. 

Also on display is a prosthetic limb worn by Sapper Curtis “Kiwi” McGrath who lost both legs in an IED blast on 23 August 2012. When he was wounded, McGrath joked with medics about becoming a Paralympian – four years later he won gold in the K3 canoe sprint event at the Rio Paralympic Games.

Read more:

Watch:

Participate:

If you were involved in operations in East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Official History Project Team welcomes your contribution to the Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor Official History. Contact details are available on the Official History page on our website.

Veterans of the First and Second Gulf Wars and the War in Afghanistan are welcome to sign the Tarin Kowt sign in the Middle East Gallery, and share their stories. The next time you're visiting us at the Memorial in Canberra, simply ask a staff member in the 'Conflicts 1945 to today' galleries for assistance.

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Trent Parke photograph of a tree

Just as man, at the head of the animal kingdom, is the noblest work of God, so the giant trees of the forest represent His noblest work in the plant world. Monuments of bronze or stone, architectural designs, or imposing buildings may serve as memorials in a collective sense; but the avenue of honour in which each tree commemorates a soldier, introduces a living breathing individuality. The same wonderful vital forces are inherent in both’.

The Argus, 1922

At 22 kilometres the Ballarat Avenue of Honour is the longest avenue of honour in Australia and one of the earliest known memorial avenues to have been planted in Victoria during the First World War. Begun in May 1917 and now comprising 3,801 trees, each tree is planted to honour the service of a particular man or woman from Ballarat who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces. 

In 2014 Australian photographer Trent Parke was invited to participate in the international exhibition The First World War Now. This was presented by the renowned Magnum Photos agency in Bruges, Belgium, to mark one hundred years since the German invasion of the city. In response Parke produced the series WW1 Avenue of Honour, twenty-two images made at the Ballarat Avenue of Honour. 

Parke, who describes himself as a storyteller, was drawn to the Ballarat Avenue of Honour because it is a living memorial where each tree stands for a particular life. In selecting and photographing a particular tree he sought to explore both tangible and abstract parallels between the natural forms as he encountered them and the fate of the individual whom the tree commemorates. Parke undertook detailed research drawing on the Red Cross Wounded and Missing files to find links between biographical records and the appearance of the corresponding tree in planting position, size, shape, texture, irregularities of growth, setting in the landscape or it’s silhouette against the sky. His photographs capture these visual forms as an act of contemporary commemoration. 

About the artist

Trent Parke (b.1971) was the first and currently is the only Australian to be accredited as a full member of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency. While working as a press and sports photographer in his early career he received numerous awards including five Gold Lenses from the International Olympic Committee and numerous World Press Photo Awards. Having established a career as an influential artist whose images challenge our expectations of documentary photography, his work has been exhibited and published globally to wide acclaim. His work has been collected by major national institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria. In 2015 the Art Gallery of South Australia presented a major exhibition devoted to his work The Black Rose.

New & Featured

  1. Art in the Aftermath

    Years 9+: This resource is a visual exploration of the aftermath and impact of the First World War.

  2. Back to the Source

    Years 9+: Turn your students into historical detectives in this guided journey through original source materials from the Memorial's collection.

     

     

First World War

  1. A Very Special Day

    Years F-6: This resource for primary teachers will help you explore how we remember and understand the past through objects, stories, and ceremonies.

  2. Understanding Gallipoli

    Years 5-9: a concise and useful overview of the Gallipoli campaign with activities for students and teachers.

  3. 1916

    Years 5-9: This package of case studies and inquiry questions looks at the places Australians fought during some of the darkest days of Australia's military history.

  4. Diary of an Anzac: a Gallipoli perspective

    All ages: Follow the journey of Herbert Reynolds, an Australian stretcher bearer at Gallipoli, through his daily diary entries.

  5. Anzac Diversity

    Year 6 and up: A collection of case studies exploring the ethnic diversity of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during the First World War.

  6. Sources: the conscription debate

    All ages: A selection of pro- and anti-conscription leaflets from the conscription referenda in 1916-17.

More resources

  1. Dust Off - Vietnam

    Year 10: This resource explores the 'dust-off' process and the experience of wounded Australians returning home.

Publications

  1. Education publications

    Downloadable books, posters, and more made available free of charge for classroom and educational use.

We all wished everybody the best of luck in the New Year particularly those at home.

The above words were penned on 1 January 1915 by Captain Charles Albert Barnes in a letter that he had started to write to his mother on Christmas Day 1914. The letter was continually added to on a daily basis, along the lines of a diary, until the last addition on 17 January 1915. This letter has been digitised as part of the Memorial’s major centenary digitisation project, Anzac Connections, and is now available online here.

Charles Albert Barnes.jpgExtract from letter from Charles Albert Barnes to his mother, 25 December 1914 (1DRL/0091)

 

The above words were also selected as the first quote to feature in Daily Digger – a Memorial initiative to narrate the events of 1915 through the words of those who were there. To share some of these stories and personal insights into the days of the First World War, the Memorial is pleased to announce the launch of Daily Digger.

All of the collections that have been digitised as part of Anzac Connections contain thoughts and insights into the activities and experiences of Australian men and women who were on active service during the First World War. Sometimes, there is also extensive commentary on the situation back home in Australia.

P02282_013.jpgCaptain Walter Ormond Stevenson, 1st Divisional Train, Australian Army Service Corps (AASC), sits and writes a note or letter in his dugout at Anzac.

 

Reading through these letters to see what was happening each day for an individual as well as the wider collective experience reveals a rich narrative of a range of different experiences, personalities, language and the private thoughts of those who were putting pen to paper back in 1915.

Daily Digger will provide a featured quote selected from one of the diaries or letters digitised as part of Anzac Connections for every day of 1915. The quote will be uploaded to Twitter on the corresponding date in 2015 and can be viewed here.

 

Imants Tillers, Avenue of Remembrance, commemorative tapestry commission work in progress. Photo by Jeremy Wehrauch.

In November 2014 the Australian Tapestry Workshop Director, Antonia Syme and Australian War Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson announced the commencement of a significant new First World War commemorative tapestry commission based on a painting by Australian artist, Imants Tillers (b.1950) for the Australian War Memorial.

The tapestry, titled Avenue of Remembrance, has been commissioned by the Memorial and made possible through a generous donation from the Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation.

Tillers was asked to provide a painting for the tapestry, a commemorative response to the First World War centenary which also makes reference to the Gallipoli letter. The Gallipoli letter is an 8000 word document, written by Keith Murdoch to Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1915, and is one of the National Library of Australia’s treasures.  It is widely thought to have helped bring the Gallipoli campaign to an end. View the Gallipoli letter.

Imants Tillers, Avenue of Remembrance, 2014, oil on board, 3.27 x 2.83m, photo courtesy of the artist

Tillers' poetic landscape painting is reminiscent of the wartime roads on the Western Front and the many ‘avenues of remembrance’ planted in memorial to the First World War around Australia.  Layered over the top are words from the Gallipoli letter and a selection of names of the many places where Australians fought and were buried during the war.

‘We all know that an ‘avenue’ is not only a regular planting of trees along a road, it is also more abstractly ‘a way to access or approach’ something – to an idea or even a memory. My ‘Avenue of Remembrance’ is, I hope, a way or means to remember not only those young men who died but also the profound loss and grief experienced by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers and sisters. By their friends, by their communities. By our nation.’

Imants Tillers speaking about his work, Avenue of Remembrance

The tapestry took over 2380 hours to complete and was woven by Master Weavers Sue Batten, Chris Cochius, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska and Cheryl Thornton. The completed tapestry is 3.3m by 2.8m. It was unveiled at the Memorial on 30 April 2015.

The new tapestry Avenue of Remembrance was available for public viewing during its production at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne from late October 2014 onwards.

Australian Tapestry Workshop logo

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