Thousands of visitors flock to Anzac memorials

Lest we forget

She looks out from the cliff towards the orange sun sinking slowly into the vast ocean, her timeless face frozen, anxious and tense.

Night after night, as the evening light dulls and finally dies, she stands in this one spot, mute and immoveable, overlooking the great expanse of water as though wondering what lies beneath.

Her skirt is blown back by the sea breeze and she holds her sun hat tightly.

Image by Grantlee Kieza

Geraldton’s “Waiting Woman”, a bronze sculpture overlooking the West Australian town and the Indian Ocean, is a permanent reminder of all the women who have looked out at this stretch of water, waiting and grieving for their lost husbands, sons, fathers and brothers.

It commemorates the loss of HMAS Sydney, pride of the Australian fleet, and all 645 men on board, after the ship went down in a firefight with the German raider Kormoran, off the West Australian coast in 1941.

On March 17, 2008, the federal government announced that the wreckage of both the Sydney and the Kormoran had been located in 2500m of water 12 nautical miles apart on the ocean floor about 180km off Western Australia’s Steep Point.

The “Waiting Woman” is one of the most poignant monuments to Australian casualties of war, and it attracts visitors all-year round to the biggest West Australian city north of Perth.

Right around Australia there are striking memorials that commemorate our fallen.

Though not designed as tourist attractions, they draw visitors throughout the year, and especially on Anzac Day, April 25.

One of the best known war monuments in Queensland is the Caloundra memorial to those who died on the Centaur, an Australian hospital ship torpedoed by the Japanese off Moreton Island in 1943.

In Melbourne, The Shrine of Remembrance in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road, was built to honour the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I, but it now functions as a memorial to all Australians who have served in any war.

It is one of the most popular visitor sites in the Victorian capital and is surrounded by hotels and tourist apartments.

In Sydney, The Anzac Memorial is a heritage-listed war memorial, museum and monument located in Hyde Park South near Liverpool Street in the CBD. The Art Deco monument was opened in 1934.

Canberra’s Australian War Memorial is the biggest war monument in the country, attracting a million visitors every year.

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Each year the Anzac Day commemoration there includes a full day of events beginning with the traditional order of service at sunrise, the veteran’s march, the official laying of wreaths, the sounding of the Last Post, and observance of one minute’s silence.

Thousands of people converge on the site each year to pay their respects. There were also a large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought as part of the Anzac forces, and they are commemorated with a ceremony held at the Aboriginal Memorial plaque on the side of Mount Ainslie.

In modern times, Anzac Day has also been commemorated with football matches.

This year the AFL will host matches in Launceston, Melbourne and Adelaide on April 25.

The games attract thousands of out-of-town visitors and hotels do a roaring trade.

Similarly the NRL has some of the biggest crowds of the year on Anzac Day, with matches scheduled this year for Sydney and Melbourne.

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