Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance

Dedicated to the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. This monument was erected to honour those Australian servicemen and women who served during world war one. Here you will find snippets of information not found in any tourist guide book!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Close Encounters!?

Strange aircraft have sprung up more than once in the last week or so. On the night of Friday 8th September strange lights were seen in the sky over Melbourne. Police and emergency services were inundated with calls from startled Melburnians reporting, what they described as, 'Flying Saucers' and 'Cigar shaped Spaceships'!

These craft were seen on several occasions, hovering over the botanical gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance.

Was this an attempt by beings from outer space to make contact with humans? or was it something else less sinister?

Coincidently , on that Friday night, St Kilda and Melbourne were playing Australian Football (AFL) against each other at the nearby MCG.


Thousands of fans had packed into the stadium to watch their teams battle it out as they have done many times in the past. This time, however, things were slightly different. Holden, an Australian car manufacturer, had aquired itself a huge airship with a massive advertising screen on its side. Knicknamed 'The Holden-Burg', this airship circled high above the MCG throughout the game, displaying scrolling messages and advertisements on its side. Occassionally, it would drift away from the arena and circle wider and wider and then make its way back.

People on the ground, walking or driving in their cars had probably glimpsed the airship between buildings, shining in the night sky, and made the wrong assumption that we were finally going to meet ET!!


Sorry guys....NOT THIS TIME!!!

Aircraft Lands on Shrine!

Strange things have the habit of happening. Such as the time that an 'aircraft' made an emergency landing on the forecourt of the Shrine!

Early in the morning on 4th of August this year a Melbourne sightseeing hot air balloon, with a basket full of 'happy snappers' on board, was forced to ditch at the Shrine.

It's pilot made a do or die decision, and opted to make an emergency landing on to the Shrine forecourt when he lost directional control of the balloon.

He felt that it was a better option than risking an incident over the cities buildings. The attending security staff were tasked with restraining the balloon by its tether ropes.

This 'Special area' of 'Holy ground' on which no man shall Skateboard, roller-blade, Cycle, sit, juggle, jog or walk their dog off it's leash, became a makeshift landing zone or 'El Zee' for the huge balloon.

You might think that this incident was 'one of a kind!' , but.....

Some years ago exactly the same thing happened, with a hot air balloon landing on almost the exact same spot!!...The only difference was that the balloon was in the shape of a huge green 'Freddo Frog'!! ( Good job no one 'croaked' it - Ha!...Ha!... )

Seeing as this occurence is fast becoming the norm, some local people have said that thought should be given to setting up some form of permanent landing strip with lights on the forecourt to assist any future striken
'Balloonatic' to land safely!!


Friday, September 08, 2006

Daylight Saving Dilemma

With 'Daylight saving' fast approaching ( Last Sunday in October ) it is worth mentioning how this "Putting the clocks forward" affects the Shrine.

The Shrine of Remembrance has a rather unique feature about it. On Remembrance day ( 11th of November ) at precisely 11 o'clock, the suns rays find their way through an aperture in the roof and a beam of light illuminates the 'Stone of Remembrance'.

It took Dr Baldwin, the Government Astronomer, 144 pages of astronomical and mathematical calculations to ensure the precision of the Ray of Light. Baldwin calculated that the ray will continue to fall upon the centre of the stone, within two minutes of 11am on Remembrance Day, for at least the next 5,000 years!

The accuracy of the calculations was first tested at 11am on Armistice Day in 1931, when, to the relief of the surveyors, the ray of sunlight fell upon a mortar-board placed where the Stone of Remembrance was soon to be laid.

Little did 'Baldwin' know, that, in 1971 'Daylight saving' was to be introduced to Australia. After it was introduced , suddenly the Ray of Light did not work as it was meant to! Instead of passing over the stone at 11 o'clock, it now didn't appear until 12 noon!!

How must he have felt! -
All his calculations now amounted to nothing!

For the first four years following the introduction of daylight savings in 1971, a spotlight beam was used. However, this remedy was considered unsatisfactory.

Fortunately Frank Doolan, the surveyor who had worked on the Ray of Light during the construction of the Shrine, was eager to assist and came up with a satisfactory method to return sunlight to the stone at 11am on Remembrance Day.

To ensure that the ray falls upon the stone at 11am, a mirror on the upper terrace is positioned to reflect the ray onto a second mirror in the aperture of the outer wall, which then directs the ray into the inner aperture and onto the Stone. This allows natural sunlight to cross the stone.

Without the mirrors in place, the Ray of Light crosses the stone at midday (daylight savings time) on the 11th November. Following the 11am service, the mirror is removed and members of the public are welcome to witness the sunlight cross the stone at midday.

The funny thing is that at eleven o'clock various dignitaries and high ranking individuals gather in the 'Sanctuary' to witness the event. What many of them do not know is that they are seeing a reflection of the sunlight and not the real thing!

One hour later, after all the pomp and ceremony has finished, the real event occurs in all it's glory and is witnessed by ordinary folk who have had to wait outside during the 'official ceremony'!!