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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

National Anzac Centre, Albany Western Australia

In late 1914 over 41,000 Australians and New Zealanders left Albany, bound for the First World War. The National Anzac Centre overlooks the harbor from where they departed, and now stands proudly at this heritage site which includes the Princess Royal Fortress. I have visited this site twice and found it moving each time. We should never forget the sacrifice so many people made for future generations.

As the convoys left the harbor, this is the last sight many of the soldiers would see of Australian soil, never to return.

Upon arrival at the centre you are given one of 32 cards, each one tells the story of a different Anzac. As you walk through the centre you learn more about your individual person. This truly personalizes the experience and connects you to your soldier, crossing time and space.

This centre is well set out. As you move from one display to another you advance forward in time from 1914 to the end of the war.

One of the most poignant areas for me was the room where a long bed of water with the names of all Anzacs who departed from Albany on the water. As the water and names move towards the window overlooking the harbour they disappear.

Different media is used to present the stories here. From interactive touch screens to static displays and films.

It is not just those who died in the war that are remembered here. Stories of the maimed, disfigured and distressed are also featured here. It reminds us that those who survived the war often had difficulty settling back in at home.

Almost every small town across Australia and New Zealand has a memorial listing the names of the fallen, an enduring expression of our grief.

In another building at the Princess Royal Fortress was an exhibition of works by artist Ian Alderman. They are digital photographic prints on archival paper and show past and present together.

Taking a walk up the Convoy Walk to the Convoy Lookout takes you past the names of the ships, restored Nissan huts, underground ammunition depots and gun placements. This was an important site and vital to the defence of Australia. Both Fremantle and Albany were home to American submarines during WWII. There is a memorial adjacent to the National Anzac centre dedicated to all those who lost their lives in submarine warfare.

Lest We Forget!

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