Towards the end of our day in Mandurah, we took a long walk along the water and over a bridge with our destination being the Mandurah War Memorial. I was expecting a pretty typical memorial - some sort of sculpture or statue with a plaque or two outlining what it represents. What we found was one of the most detailed and interactive memorials I have ever come across. We ended up spending far more time here than I had expected!
What made this memorial so unique was a special bench that was placed near the entrance to the park. A sign indicated that visitors were invited to sit and listen to the information that the speaker on the bench could play. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I haven't! We sat and listened to all of the pieces available which took about twenty minutes. One piece was a poem written about what it is like to be on an active battlefield, it was particularly haunting.
The whole of the memorial was quite beautiful, consisting of these tall white pillars of varying heights, standing on a water feature that ran through them. The memorial was built in 2015 specifically to remember the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. Not sure what that is? Neither was I until I listened to the bench! ANZAC is the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and the landings at Gallipoli was their first entrance into World War I. They were attempting to help the allied navy troops but in the end all of the allies were evacuated. 8,000 Australian lives were lost that day. One of the pieces on the bench spoke specifically about the three people lost from Mandurah. Mandurah was barely a town then (less than 200 people) so losing three young men really affected everyone in the area.
Now the anniversary of that date, April 25th, is a holiday known as ANZAC Day. This is a special day set aside in Australia and New Zealand as a day of remembrance for all who have served and lost their lives in any conflict. The water that flowed through the memorial was beautiful and lent a peaceful air to the whole thing. The water flows through then at the end waterfalls out into the bay water that surrounds the area.
In the midst of the white pillars was one smaller black pillar. The information bench indicated that this one was meant to symbolize the unknown soldiers who were lost in battle and do not have a proper burial place of their own.
Along the base of the memorial was listed all of the wars Australia has been involved in during its short history. World War I and II were both there as well as some conflicts I have never heard of before. The one that struck me the most was this one that indicated they have been in Afghanistan since 2001. No end date is listed because there is still a military presence there. It reminded me that while sometimes we forget war is happening (because it hasn't risen to the level of world war) that conflicts are still occurring that affect very real lives.
Watching the sunset at the memorial seemed to give it an extra air of gravitas. It was a beautiful, solemn way to end the day, and I am grateful we went there.