Hobart Cenotaph

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Hobart Cenotaph
For Tasmanians who served in wars and peacekeeping operations since 1914
Unveiled13 December 1925
Location 42°52′39″S147°20′10″E / 42.87750°S 147.33611°E / -42.87750; 147.33611 Coordinates: 42°52′39″S147°20′10″E / 42.87750°S 147.33611°E / -42.87750; 147.33611
Designed byHutchinson & Walker architects
"Lest We Forget", "1914–1919" & "1939–45"

Hobart Cenotaph, (usually 'The Cenotaph', also referred to as Hobart War Memorial), is the main commemorative military monument for the Australian state of Tasmania. It is located in the capital Hobart in a prominent position on the Queens Domain, on a small rise overlooking the city and River Derwent. The Cenotaph sits directly above what was once the location of the Queens Battery.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Tasmania island state of Australia

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 526,700 as of March 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.

Hobart City in Tasmania, Australia

Hobart is the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. With a population of approximately 225,000, it is the least populated Australian state capital city, and second smallest if territories are taken into account. Founded in 1804 as a British penal colony, Hobart, formerly known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, is Australia's second oldest capital city after Sydney, New South Wales. Prior to British settlement, the Hobart area had been occupied for possibly as long as 35,000 years, by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuennone, or South-East tribe. The descendants of these Aboriginal Tasmanians often refer to themselves as 'Palawa'.


The Cenotaph is the centre of Anzac Day commemoration services at dawn and mid-morning, and is the destination of the marching procession. On Anzac Day at the break of dawn, a lone bugler always plays the Last Post.

Anzac Day national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand on April 25

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served". Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the Great War (1914–1918).

Last Post British and Commonwealth bugle call

The "Last Post" is either a B♭ bugle call, primarily within British infantry and Australian infantry regiments, or an E♭ cavalry trumpet call in British cavalry and Royal Regiment of Artillery, and is used at Commonwealth military funerals, and ceremonies commemorating those who have been killed in war. Its duration varies typically from a little over one minute to nearly three minutes. For ceremonial use, the Last Post is often followed by "The Rouse", or less usually the longer "Reveille".


The Hobart Cenotaph is an Art Deco reinterpretation of a traditional Egyptian Obelisk. The Cenotaph was originally erected to commemorate the war dead of Tasmania from World War I, but has had subsequent additions made for all conflicts since then in which Tasmanian soldiers have served. The original inscription reads: "Lest We Forget", and "1914–1919". Although World War I ended on 11 November 1918, the inscription is dated '1919' in commemoration of the Treaty of Versailles which was signed on 28 June 1919. There are no names recorded upon the Cenotaph itself.

Art Deco Influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s

Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape or pyramidion at the top. These were originally called tekhenu by their builders, the Ancient Egyptians. The Greeks who saw them used the Greek term 'obeliskos' to describe them, and this word passed into Latin and ultimately English. Ancient obelisks are monolithic; that is, they consist of a single stone. Most modern obelisks are made of several stones; some, like the Washington Monument, are buildings.

An Anzac Day commemoration was held there in 1925 during construction. During the ceremony, a casket of solid zinc which bore the names of the 522 Tasmanians who were killed in World War I was set into the base of the shaft. It was unveiled on 13 December 1925 and replaced a previous wooden structure.

Zinc Chemical element with atomic number 30

Zinc is a chemical element with symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. In some respects zinc is chemically similar to magnesium: both elements exhibit only one normal oxidation state (+2), and the Zn2+ and Mg2+ ions are of similar size. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest workable lodes are in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Zinc is refined by froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and final extraction using electricity (electrowinning).

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.


The monument was designed by Hobart architectural firm Hutchinson and Walker, after their entry had won a public competition held in 1923 for the structure's design. Their original design was for an obelisk that was to stand 65 feet (20 m) high, but it was decided to increase the height to 75 feet (23 m). The obelisk itself is stood upon a stepped plinth 8 square metres (86 sq ft) made from bluestone, and the obelisk is made from grey granite. The shaft of the obelisk is tapered with chamfered edges and is capped with a pyramidal cap. Directly beneath the cap on each side are back-lit red opaque glass Latin crosses that are illuminated constantly in remembrance of the dead.

Bluestone Cultural or commercial name for a number of dimension or building stone varieties

Bluestone is a cultural or commercial name for a number of dimension or building stone varieties, including:

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Other features of the original design are a bronze laurel wreath on the north face, bronze fluted panels on each face of the plinth, six rosettes on each side of the Obelisk base, and groups of three flag holders on the north, east and west faces of plinth. On each of the four faces are the crests of the four service organisations – the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Commonwealth Military Forces and the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (which was added in 1991). Floodlights on each corner illuminate the shaft of the Obelisk at night.

Bronze metal alloy

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.

Laurel wreath wreath made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel

A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected branches and leaves of the bay laurel, an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom or cherry laurel. It is a symbol of triumph and is worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. The symbol of the laurel wreath traces back to Greek mythology. Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head, and wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions. This includes the ancient Olympics — for which they were made of wild olive tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος), — and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.

Rosette (design) round, stylized flower design

A rosette is a round, stylized flower design.

The site of the Hobart Cenotaph was deliberately chosen for its prominence. Not only is it a location with its own military legacy, having been the site of the Queens Battery from 1838 until 1923, but the site also has excellent views of the city, Mount Wellington and the Derwent River. Following the completion of the Cenotaph, the site was landscaped extensively with a paved avenue lined with Poplar trees, and named "Anzac Parade", leading from the Tasman Highway to the Cenotaph.


The Hobart Cenotaph was originally designed as a memorial to the Tasmanians who died serving their country in World War I. However it was later decided that the Cenotaph would be altered to commemorate those who had died in subsequent conflicts as well.

The first addition was for soldiers who were killed in World War II, and was placed directly below the "1914–1919" inscription, and simply reads:"1939-45". Subsequent inscriptions memorialising Tasmanian war dead in more recent conflicts on the face of the plinth below those of the two world wars are: "The Korean War", "The Malayan Emergency", "The Indonesian Confrontation", "The Vietnam War", and "Peace-Keeping Operations".

Hobart cenotaph and War Memorial, looking along ANZAC Parade Cenotaph and War Memorial, Hobart, Tasmania.jpg
Hobart cenotaph and War Memorial, looking along ANZAC Parade

Victoria Cross Memorial

In 2003, two earthen walls were erected either side of Anzac Parade slightly to the north of the Cenotaph, with soil from the birthplace of all of Tasmania's thirteen Victoria Cross recipients, as well as soil from the battlefield where they earned their VC. It also tells the story behind each VC recipient.

The Tasmanian recipients of the Victoria Cross are:

Soldier's Memorial Avenue

The Soldier's Memorial Avenue upon the Queens Domain was a memorial that pre-dated the construction of the Cenotaph itself. The Avenue was first proposed in late 1917 with a decision to proceed in 1918. The groundwork was undertaken in June and July 1918 with the first dedication of trees on 3 August 1918. A crowd estimated at between eight and ten thousand attended the ceremony. A mark of its importance can be seen in the fact that Hobart's population was a mere 29,000 at the time. The event was extensively covered in the Hobart Mercury, the Tasmanian Mail and the Weekly Courier. A special commemorative pin back badge was produced together with an extensive souvenir program.

The planting was a joint effort of the Hobart City Council, as custodians of the land, and the RSSILA. The New Town Council also joined the enterprise. Nearly 390 trees were planted in the first stage. A second planting took place on 15 February 1919 with a further 110 trees planted. More trees seem to have been dedicated in the months following. [1]

The trees planted were cedars of 3 varieties – Himalayan cedar, Atlas cedar and Blue Atlas. [2] The reason for the choice is not clear though its religious connotations and reputation for longevity were commented upon at the time.

Trees were originally marked by wooden name boards, sheathed in zinc and painted with car duco. These were replaced in the early 1930s by zinc name plates suspended on the trees. A combination of vandalism and natural aging (most likely rusting of the chains) meant that by the 1980s more than half has disappeared – most of those remaining were removed.

The restoration of the Avenue, begun in 2002 by Friends of Soldiers Walk (now Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue) and the Hobart City Council has seen over 480 bronze plaques placed at trees along the Avenue. These are mounted on concrete plinths and carry details of full name, unit, place and date of death, age, occupation and a range of other information about family, military career and civilian life.

The discussions about the intended Hobart war memorial were underpinned by the existence of the Avenue with a resolution passed by the War Memorial Committee that any war memorial should be adjacent to the Avenue. The original intent was to place that memorial on the Domain proper. [3] When the old Queens Battery site became available, the new memorial (the Cenotaph) was placed there. In 1926 a double row of cedars was planted on the city side of the area to connect the Cenotaph to the Avenue – this was known as the Soldiers Memorial Avenue extension. [4] By 2000, only two of those trees remained to the west of the Cenotaph.

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  1. Howard, A. "Forgotten Landscape: Soldiers Memorial Avenue". THRA Papers and Proceedings. 52 (2): 95–106.
  2. Hobart City Council Soldiers Memorial Avenue Management Plan 2004
  3. MCC16/2/81 War Memorial Committee Minutes passim
  4. MCC16/72 HCC Reserves Committee Minutes 6 July 1926