As many of you know, I recently spent a week in Canberra with my mother. While the trip was an amazing experience in and of itself, one of the many highlights was the two days we spent at the War Memorial.
From the moment we laid eyes on the front of the Memorial on a cold and foggy Monday morning, I was immediately struck by how imposing the building is. It rose out of the fog and imposed its presence on the viewer straight away so that could you were simply unable to tear your eyes away from it….and that was before we even got inside.
Once we went through the mandatory bag and security checks, we walked into the building and were greeted by the bust of my great hero and founder of the Memorial, CEW Bean. Charles Bean was the official Australian War Historian and Correspondent during the First World War. He spent the entire war behind the front lines with the Aussie troops and witnessed the brutality of the war first hand. I had only finished re-reading Ross Coulthart’s wonderful biography on Bean a couple of weeks before the visit which was impeccable timing as always so to be greeted by the man I had long admired, in the place that he had created, was a real treat for me.
Mum and I decided to go on the “Overview Tour” which gave you a brief glimpse of the Memorial and allowed you to go back and look at the exhibits that you were interested in more thoroughly at a later time. I had told our guide that I was particularly interested in Bean and he made a point to show me his suitcase, typewriter, identity disc and a Union Jack flag which Bean had stolen during his evacuation from Gallipoli.
We had hoped to stay for the Last Post Ceremony which is held at 4:55 pm each day, but given that it was the Monday of the Long Weekend and also the school holidays for the ACT had just started, we decided to come back later in the week.
We went back on the Thursday of our week there….but that story will be told in my next post.