Yesterday I finally found time to wander around Melbourne and take some pictures. I headed south, away from the Yarra River and the Central Business District, in the general direction of the U.S. Consulate.
The main drag in this area of town is St. Kilda Road. Running along St. Kilda for a good stretch is a complex of parks and gardens called King's Domain. King's Domain features an amphitheater (Myers Music Bowl), botanical gardens (National Botanic Gardens), an observatory, the Victoria State Government House and the Shrine of Remembrance.
Yesterday was quite overcast, a little windy and it spit rain intermittently throughout the morning and early afternoon, so all in all not the best day for taking pictures. I first walked around Victoria Gardens, which features statues of Victoria (Melbourne is the capital of the state that bears her name, after all) and her son, Edward VII. However, my real destination was always the Shrine of Remembrance.
As you have probably guessed, the Shrine of Remembrance is a war memorial. Originally designed to honor Victorians (some 19,000) killed in WWI, it is now a monument to all Victorians killed in armed service overseas. The monument was dedicated in 1919, just one year after the end of the war. It was conceived to give loved ones a place to go to honor those lost fighting overseas, as the Australians don't repatriate the remains of fallen soldiers. Rather, they are buried overseas; sometimes in cemetaries, other times in unmarked graves.
The Shrine features a long, tree-lined walkway to the steps that lead to the Sanctuary. All around the grounds of the Shrine are trees of various types, dedicated to different units. As you approach the Sanctuary, there is an Eternal Flame and Cenotaph to honor the fallen members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force from WWII. (A cenotaph is a monument erected in honor of persons whose remains are elsewhere.)
The Sanctuary is a square building, with a pyramid-shaped roof with a small glass aperture at the apex. All around the inner walls are displayed books listing the names of all Victorians who have served overseas. All names are listed without rank, as all are equal within the confines of the Sanctuary. Set into the center of the floor is a stone bearing the inscription, "Greater Love Hath No Man". The Sanctuary is designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the sun shines through the opening at the top and illuminates the word "Love" in the inscription.
Downstairs is the Crypt. This name is misleading as there are no remains within. Instead there is a statue entitled "Father - Son", commemorating fathers who had perished in WWI and sons killed in WWII. Also displayed in the Crypt are the banners of all units who fought in WWI. There is a corner of the Crypt dedicated to the Royal Australian Navy and its losses during WWI. There is no special area for the Royal Australian Air Force, as it wasn't founded until 1921.
Exiting the Crypt, one comes to the Visitor's Center. Here one can view a short audio visual presentation on the Shrine. There is also the inevitable gift shop. Adjacent to the gift shop, is a new display detailing Australia's role in the War on Terror. (As I remarked in a previous post, and as columnist Charles Krauthammer noted recently - (Column here) Australia is one of our staunchest allies (if not the staunchest).)
Being a military history buff, especially WWII, visiting the Shrine of Remembrance was quite worthwhile.