Destroying ‘our most sacred place’: recent pictures of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

The $550m (and counting) redevelopment project at the Australian War Memorial is unstoppable, regardless of how ill-advised and unnecessary it has always been and how much opposition it has generated. That history has been chronicled.

The main question now is whether and how far the Memorial will slide away from its commitments about properly recognising and commemorating the Australian Frontier Wars. The Memorial has been rather quiet on that front recently and what it previously said was difficult to interpret.

Now, the Audit Office is working on a performance audit of the management of the project and wants public input by the beginning of October. Meanwhile, our photographer captured these images in mid-August.

The pictures may be a shock to non-Canberrans, whose image of the Memorial, if they have one before they visit, is based on television file footage or promotional bumph from tour companies. These photos show instead the carnage being wrought at what some Australians call ‘our most sacred place’.

And there is crassness amidst the destruction: the two cranes in the pictures have names: ‘Duffy’ for Simpson’s donkey, and ‘Teddy’ for Teddy Sheean, posthumous Victoria Cross recipient. The names came out of a competition earlier this year for primary school children.

1 September 2023


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