I’d decided to start off my stay in Melbourne with a little bit of history, hence took a trip down to the Shrine of Remembrance which was situated right opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The tall structure stands grandly at an elevated location as Victoria’s memorial to those who have served Australia and sacrificed during conflicts and peace operations, amidst its surrounding greenery provided by the Botanic Gardens and against a vibrant city skyline. One can take a self-guided tour from the entry courtyard of the Shrine, up a flight of steps towards the Doric Columns, then further in and up to the balcony. The Shrine overlooks the Shrine Reserve, the bay and a clear line of view back into Melbourne city. Four statues stand at its corners, representing peace, justice, patriotism and sacrifice; these statues complement the East and West walls, with two distinct messages on each.
Of particular interest to me were two areas in the shrine – the Crypt, which held the Father and Son sculpture, representing two generations who had fought in WWI and WWII; and the Sanctuary, at the heart of the Shrine, with an engraved marble sunken into the ground stating “Great love hath no man”. Most amazing would be the effort taken to create a small opening in the ceiling that allows sunlight to shine upon the inscriptions at 11am every Remembrance Day; it had supposedly taken extensive astronomical and mathematical measures to ensure that the opening was positioned to allow sunlight to pass at the right time on the right spot for the next 5000 years!
As a war history buff, I was impressed, saddened and respectful of the messages the shrine shared. Maybe some day we will realise that war is never a solution; and as Bertrand Russell says, “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”.