A visit to the Australian War Memorial is sacred to most Australians including my husband who served in the navy for almost a decade and went to many wars and was lucky to come out of them alive.
Having moved from France twenty years ago, my war history is restricted to European history however I have learned throughout the years that Australia played a big part in fighting around the World, in Europe and especially in France. War was a big thing in my family in France and I lost many family members in World War I and Wold War II and even had German soldiers occupy my father's village during World War II so it was a privilege to visit the Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial in France last April and the Australian War Memorial in June last year.
This is why walking through the Australian War Memorial brings out a high level of respect for those who fought wars to give us the freedom that we have today.
The Memorial includes many permanent galleries covering Australia's involvement in major conflicts and some temporary exhibitions that cover other aspects of military history.
Highlights of the Australian War Memorial's include the stunning Commemorative Courtyard, the Roll of Honour which contains the names of over 102,000 members of the Australian armed forces who have died during or as a result of war service, the Hall of Memory, the Dioramas, the Hall of Valour, the Aircraft Hall, the Anzac Hall and the Discovery Zone.
Although the kids could not read most of the exhibits, their father and I conveyed important messages to them about the war history of Australia, Europe and other countries. The war artefacts, aircrafts, boats and vehicles kept the kids interested while we were visiting the different exhibiting galleries.
The kids thought the Discovery Zone was a lot of fun! It has five different zones which are all inspired by Australia's military history. It includes a trench on the Western Front in France from the First World War, an Australian home front during the Second World War, an Iroquois helicopter hovering in a field in Vietnam, an Oberon Class submarine, searching for enemy targets and a peacekeeping mission in a war-ravaged community. Kids will love climbing, jumping, crawling and exploring all zones.
The Discovery Zone is open during limited times during the week but opened all day on weekends and holidays (see times in our tips below). My little ones' favourite zone was by far the Iroquois helicopter where they enjoyed flying and sitting in the passenger seat. They also liked getting dressed up with the dress up clothes provided nearby. Little Miss liked the trench, wearing a war helmet and exploring the submarine.
The Australian War Memorial is a great place for the whole family to learn about Australia's and the World's war history. While it may not be an automatic place to bring children, I believe that war is part of Australia's and the World's history therefore is important for our children to understand. Throughout our visit, we found that the material presented throughout the galleries was not scary for children but presented in a way which was educational. The Memorial welcomes school groups from around Australia daily. Kids will enjoy seeing the artefacts, planes, helicopters, miniature boats and will love playing in the Discovery Zone, flying an Iroquois helicopter, going through a trench and a exploring a submarine. Do pop in when you're in Canberra next.
- The Australian War Memorial is located at Treloar Crescent in Campbell, Canberra
- The Memorial is open 10am to 5pm daily except on Christmas Day. Open and closing times vary on Anzac day and Remembrance day.
- Galleries close from 4.40pm and visitors are invited to join the Memorial for the Last Post Ceremony.
- The Discovery Zone is open from 12:30pm to 1:30pm during weekdays and all day during weekends, public holidays and ACT school holidays.
- Admission to the Memorial is free but donations to the Memorial is encouraged to support the Memorial's efforts and volunteers.
- Free tours are available.
- The Memorial is pram and wheelchair friendly with lifts available. Both are available for hire on free loan at the front desk. As well as free cloaking.
- Free parking is available under the Memorial (4 hour limit).