The Shrine of Remembrance was built to provide a place to grieve and remember Victorians killed in the First World War (1914-18). It now provides a place of remembrance for Australian service and sacrifice in all wars since Australia’s Federation in 1901.
Of the 114,000 Victorians who enlisted in the First World War, 89,000 served abroad and 19,000 died. Many were buried in graves far from home.
The Shrine provided a place where families could remember loved ones. It also represented the courage of the men, women and children who remained at home and laboured in support of national defence in wartime.
The design for the Shrine was selected by competition among Australian artists and architects. 83 designs were submitted, and the winning design was by 2 Melbourne returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop.
The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — the mausoleum at Halicarnassus to King Mausolus of Caria, in South West Asia Minor.
While Australia faced frightful unemployment and financial difficulty in the late 1920s and 1930s, so great was the gratitude of the people that the huge amount required to build the Shrine was raised within six months from the opening of the appeal in 1928.
Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester and son of King George V, officially opened the Shrine before a crowd of 300,000 people in November 1934. Since then, other memorials have been added to the site to mark the service of successive generations, such as the Second World War Memorial Forecourt and the post–1945 Memorial.
While direct experience and knowledge of the events of the First World War and later conflicts fade, interest in them is growing. Today the Shrine places a high priority on education and interpretation. Through commemoration, exhibitions and public programs, the Shrine continues to honour Victorian service and sacrifice and uphold and reinforce the values we associate with the original ANZACs.
Reviewed 19 June 2023