The Shrine of Remembrance, located in Melbourne's southern parklands, is much MUCH more than just a tourist photo opportunity.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Shrine, one of Melbourne’s premier landmarks, over the space of two visits. I’d heard very little about the monument but the images I had initially stumbled across had a sense of Grecian grandeur; not something that is seen regularly in Australia. My introduction to the area was equally as unique…
ANZAC Day Service
ANZAC day in Australia honours Australian and New Zealand personnel who served during wartime or on peacekeeping missions. April 25th is a day of reflection and one of the most respected traditions on the Australian calendar. Dawn Services are hosted nation-wide, and I had been invited to attend the commemorations at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.
Yes, you read correctly; dawn. I had to be up at sparrow’s fart and make my way halfway across Metropolitan Melbourne. It was dark. It was wet. My discount variety store umbrella was held precariously together with sticky tape. But I had to do it. Honouring Australia’s fallen heroes, no matter the conditions, was worth it. If anything, the drab weather complemented the solemn occasion as I trudged up St Kilda Road to join the huddled masses on the Shrine Forecourt.
An authoritative voice bellowed out over the speakers, regaling heroic stories of former soldiers and military personnel who exemplified the ANZAC Spirit. A sea of dimly-lit umbrellas stretched across to the steps of the Shrine; where silhouetted figures drifted in and out of the building.
The rain continued to tumble down and as I stared down at the puddle gathering around my shoes, I realised I didn’t feel like moving. I noticed that nobody else was moving either. Everybody, dodgy umbrella or nay, was staying put. Normally crowds would be clambering for cover, but it was apparent this wasn’t your regular event. The overall mood was one of respect, humility and reflection; an attitude that isn’t easy to come by in this day and age. It was certainly an immensely humbling experience. One I won’t easily forget.
Exploring the Shrine
It was only some days after that I finally explored the inside of the Shrine. The first thing I wanted to do was to head up to the balcony to check out the view. Marching up the steps and in between the columns of the building, it feels as grand as it looks. Finding more stairs to climb inside, the view from the top reveals a sweeping panorama of the city and surrounding areas. It has to be one of the best free views of the Melbourne CBD. The stroll down St Kilda Road certainly felt worth it.
After exploring the ‘ground floor’ of the Shrine it was time to leave. After all, I had things to do! However, on my way out I noticed an elevator, going down. My eagerness to see the city views must have blinded me on the way in. It took me down to something that completely blew my mind; not to mention my time schedule.
A crypt full of wartime tales, experiences and artefacts await those adventurous enough to head down underneath this Melbourne landmark. There are photos, uniforms and art pieces from pre-Federation Australia, WW1, WW2 and all of the battles the country has been involved in since. I spent an unanticipated hour and a half absorbing all the history in this buried gallery.
The underground crypt and the Galleries of Remembrance at the Shrine of Remembrance are ideal for those interested in world history and Australia’s military past. There are also four courtyards surrounding the building, each with their own characteristics, that are well worth a wander.
It understandably isn’t the cheeriest place in Melbourne but you will leave the Shrine feeling informed, humbled and thankful for your place in the world.
Get the lowdown.
Open daily. 10am–5pm daily. (Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day)
Free. Information on paid guided tours can be located on the Shrine of Remembrance website.
You can jump on any Southbound tram from Federation Square (except Route 1) and get off at Stop 19. Keep in mind this journey is outside of the Free Tram Zone so you will need to tag on. Otherwise, it’s 17 minutes by foot over the same route.