Australian War Memorial
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Church of St John the Baptist
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Australian War Memorial information
The War Memorial provides a fascinating insight into how war has forged Australia's national identity, and in so doing delivers Canberra's most rewarding museum experience. Entry is via a Commemorative Courtyard where the names of the nation's war dead are memorialised on a roll of honour. Over the years family members have attached bright-red paper poppies to the names of their fallen relatives, imparting a melancholic beauty. These poppies of remembrance reference those that flowered on the battlegrounds of Belgium, France and Gallipoli in the spring of 1915.
Behind the courtyard is the mosaic-encrusted Hall of Memory . This is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier , who represents all Australians who have given their lives during wartime.
Inside the museum are halls dedicated to WWI, WWII and conflicts from 1945 to the present day. There's also an aircraft hall with plenty of exhibits that provides a perfect introduction to the sound-and-light shows that are staged in the massive and hugely impressive Anzac Hall . The most exciting of the shows are Striking by Night , a re-creation of a night operation over Berlin in 1943 that is staged on the hour; and Over the Front: the Great War in the Air , which kicks off at a quarter past the hour.
Free volunteer-led 90-minute guided tours leave from the Orientation Gallery next to the main entrance at 10am, 10.15am, 10.30am, 11am, noon, 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm and 3pm; 45-minute tours leave at 10.45am and 1.15pm. Alternatively, purchase the Self-Guided Tour leaflet with map ($5).
The memorial's Terrace Cafe occupies an attractive glass pavilion next door to the main building. It serves decent food and coffee in indoor and outdoor spaces.