Anzac Parade Obelisk | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Anzac Parade Obelisk

Item details

Name of item: Anzac Parade Obelisk
Other name/s: Memorial
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Monuments and Memorials
Category: Memorials
Primary address: Anzac Parade, Moore Park, NSW 2021
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Anzac ParadeMoore ParkSydney  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The obelisk is significant as being one of the earliest monuments dedicated to the role of the Anzacs of WWI. The monument was erected as part of the reconfiguration of Anzac Parade (formerly Randwick Road) on 15 March 1917, less than one year after the inauguration of Anzac Day. The dedication of the obelisk and roadway was directly linked with Australia's burgeoning sense of national identity and the Government's promotion of this identity through monumental works.

As the spirit of the Anzac legacy has become part of the Australian national identity such monuments are considered to have relevance to the sacrifices experienced in other theatres of war including WWII, Vietnam and current conflicts.

Based on its historic and social significance, and the high esteem in which the Australian community holds the memory of the Anzacs, the obelisk is assessed as having state significance.
Date significance updated: 08 May 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: R.H. Brodrick, FIA NSW , City Architect
Builder/Maker: Municipal Council of Sydney
Construction years: 1917-
Physical description: The memorial is approximately 6m in height and stands on a stepped sandstone base. The lower portion of the monument (the plinth) consists of light-coloured sandstone masonry featuring a simple curved decorative motif at its top. The plinth features the name 'ANZAC PARADE' on its northern side in large bronze lettering, and is located above a plaque which reads:

"This remodelled roadway was officially opened by the Lady Mayoress of Sydney, Mrs R.D. Meagher, M.L.A., Speaker, Lord Mayor of Sydney; R.H. Brodrick, City Architect; A.H. Brigg, City Surveyor; Thomas H. Nesbitt, Town Clerk."

The tapered obelisk is carved from pink-coloured sandstone, and features a four-sided pyramidal apex. A bronze laurel wreath is positioned on its northern face and encloses the date '1917'.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The monument is intact and in relatively good condition. The sandstone of the obelisk shows signs of weathering and cracking, possibly as a result of its relocation.' (Last updated: 8/05/2006.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: Two original lamps were removed from the obelisk by the early 1950s.

The obelisk has been moved approximately 300m south, circa 1998, to allow for the construction of the Anzac Parade exit portal of the Eastern Distributor.
Current use: War Memorial
Former use: War Memorial

History

Historical notes: The ANZAC obelisk was erected at the head of Anzac Parade at Moore Park on 15 March 1917 to mark the opening of the remodelled roadway and to commemorate the role of the ANZACS in WWI. The site is particularly significant as it was the parade route used by the 1st AIF (Australian Imperial Forces) as they embarked for overseas service having camped at Kensington Racecourse - the present site of the University of New South Wales (Randwick City Council). Randwick Racecourse was similarly used as a training ground during this period.

Randwick Road (later re-named Anzac Parade) was part of the main road network to Randwick as well as being the entry point to Moore Park in the late-1860s. Prior to its upgrade, Randwick Road was described as simply being a 'sandy track' (Godden Mackay 1997: 15). Moore Park was once part of the Sydney Common, and was dedicated as public parkland by Sydney City Council in 1866. The land became a major sporting and entertainment venue and comprised the Zoological Gardens (1879), the Royal Agricultural Society Showground and the first course of the Australian Golf Club (1882). During this early period the gateway to Moore Park was formalised with three decorative sandstone columns erected on either side of the road. Four of these columns have since been reinstated near their original position on either side of Anzac Parade.

A description of the opening of Anzac Parade was included in the Sydney Morning Herald on 16 March 1917, reading:

"The new road, formerly known as Randwick-road (sic), cost in all 15,374 pounds, and is 63ft wide, including the flower bed running along the centre. Alderman Meagher said that eventually there would be a continuous thoroughfare over six miles long from Moore Park right to the La Perouse monument."

The road displayed a formal appearance due to its size, its landscaping and the inclusion of the distinctive Anzac memorial. The obelisk originally stood at the centre of the entrance of the road, and preceded a row of gardens that ran the length of the road. The formal character of Anzac Parade was also heightened with the planting of an avenue of trees including Moreton Bay figs, Norfolk Island pines and stone pines.

At the opening of the roadway, the Lord Mayor was quoted as saying that Anzac Parade would eventually extend to "the sacred spot where Captain Cook set foot on Australian soil." (Main Roads 1977: 61) Whilst the road does indeed extend to Botany Bay, it terminates at the La Perouse Memorial at La Perouse, and not the 'sacred spot' in Kurnell on the southern end of Botany Bay.

The memorial is approximately 6m in height and stands on a stepped sandstone base. The lower portion of the monument (the plinth) consists of light-coloured sandstone masonry featuring a simple curved decorative motif at its top. The plinth features the name 'ANZAC PARADE' on its northern side in large bronze lettering, and is located above a plaque which reads:

"This remodelled roadway was officially opened by the Lady Mayoress of Sydney, Mrs R.D. Meagher, M.L.A., Speaker, Lord Mayor of Sydney; R.H. Brodrick, City Architect; A.H. Brigg, City Surveyor; Thomas H. Nesbitt, Town Clerk."

The obelisk is carved from pink-coloured sandstone, and terminates with a four-sided pyramidal apex. A bronze laurel wreath is positioned on its northern face and encloses the date '1917'. Two lanterns were originally affixed at the midway point of the obelisk, although these have since been removed. The garden bed which formed the median has also been replaced with sections of grass.

Whilst the obelisk once held the symbolic position of signifying the commencement of Anzac Parade, it has since been relocated approximately 300m to the south. This was done to allow for the construction of the Eastern Distributor, notably the exit portal for Anzac Parade. In its original position, the obelisk appears to have played a more prominent role in early ANZAC services, with historic photographs showing the memorial decorated in floral arrangements and wreaths.

Anzac Day was officially named on the 25th April 1916, in memory of the landing at Gallipoli the previous year. However it was not until 1927 that Anzac Day was celebrated as a public holiday nationally. The earliest Australian memorial to the Anzacs is identified as being Anzac House (Cottage) in Mt Hawthorne near Perth, Western Australia. The obelisk however, represents one of New South Wales earliest dedications to the ANZACS, preceding the Martin Place Cenotaph (1927) and the Hyde Park War Memorial (1934).

In its current location the obelisk is still visible, although certainly less prominent. In recent years fencing has been added along the grassed median of Anzac Parade in an attempt to discourage pedestrians from crossing. This fencing skirts the obelisk which, as a result, partially obscures its western side.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The obelisk is significant as being one of the earliest monuments dedicated to the Anzac landing at Gallipoli in 1915. The monument was erected as part of the reconfiguration of Anzac Parade (formerly Randwick Road) on 15 March 1917, less than one year after the inauguration of Anzac Day. The dedication of the obelisk and roadway to the memory of the Anzacs also represents a significant period in the development of Australia’s national identity.

Despite its relocation, the obelisk exhibits a clear historical association with the Anzacs. It retains its contextual significance with Anzac Parade - the parade route followed by the 1st AIF as they left for overseas service having grouped and trained at Kensington racecourse.

The obelisk is recognised as having state significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The obelisk has a clear association with the Anzac campaign of WWI. It displays bronze lettering that reads 'Anzac Parade' and a laurel wreath dedicated to those lost in the war. Along with the dedication of the roadway to the Anzacs, the obelisk represents one of the earliest Anzac memorials created by the City of Sydney. It has state significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Anzac Parade obelisk represents a continuation of a form of monument which originally developed within early Egyptian culture. In terms of its design, it is fairly standard, incorporating a pyramidal obelisk, a plinth, and a stepped foundation. It features two types of sandstone which adds to its individual character; the plinth is a light sand colour whilst the actual obelisk is pink in colour.

The obelisk has been modified in two ways which have affected its aesthetic value. Firstly, two distinctive lamp lights which were attached near the top of the obelisk were removed prior to the 1950s. Secondly, the obelisk has been removed from its original location at the head of Anzac Parade. This formerly commanding position would have had high landmark significance, notably for its role in signifying the start of Anzac Parade.

In its current position, approximately 300m south, the obelisk is no longer considered to have as strong landmark significance.

The obelisk is assessed as having low local significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The obelisk is particularly associated with those soldiers who fought as part of the Anzacs of the 1st AIF. However as the spirit of the Anzac legacy has become part of the national identity, such monuments are considered to have a degree of resonance with Australia's later armed forces also.

Anzac Parade is also a major Sydney thoroughfare extending from Moore Park through to Botany Bay National Park at La Perouse. During the opening of Anzac Parade, the Lord Mayor stated that the road would extend to 'the sacred spot where Captain Cook first set foot on Australian soil'. It is assumed that she meant Botany Bay as opposed to the 1788 landing site of La Perouse where the road actually ends today.

The obelisk is recognised as having state significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The obelisk is not considered to be significant under this criterion.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The obelisk is not considered to be rare in terms of its form. A number of obelisks are located throughout Sydney (Hyde Park, Macquarie Place), and the form continues to be used in modern memorials. There are also a vast number of Anzac and war memorials throughout the city, most notably the Hyde Park Memorial and the Martin Place Cenotaph.

The first Anzac memorial in Australia was Anzac House (Cottage) built in Mt Hawthorne, near Perth in 1915. The obelisk, however represents one of the earliest Anzac memorials in New South Wales, having been dedicated in 1917; one year after the inauguration of Anzac Day, and 17 years prior to the Hyde Park Memorial.

The obelisk is assessed as having high local significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Obelisks first developed as part of early Egyptian culture and continue to be widely used throughout the world as public and funerary memorials. The Anzac Parade obelisk represents one of many obelisks in New South Wales. The earliest remaining obelisk in Sydney is located in Macquarie Place, and was designed by Francis Greenway and built under the guidance of Governor Macquarie. Perhaps the most prominent Sydney obelisk is the Hyde Park obelisk at the junction of Bathurst and Elizabeth Streets, based on its size and grandeur.

The significance of the Anzac Parade obelisk is best realised through its association with the Anzac legacy. The obelisk is fundamentally associated with Anzac Parade which realigned and opened in 1917. This road was chosen to commemorate the Anzac legacy as it was used by the Anzac troops as they were heading off to service having trained and camped at nearby Kensington Racecourse.

The monument therefore contextually signifies the former use of the Randwick/Moore Park area by the Anzacs of the 1st AIF. Together the roadway and the obelisk represent one of the earliest dedications to the Anzacs.

Based on its setting, and the high esteem in which the Australian community holds the memory of the Anzacs, the obelisk is assessed as having state significance.
Integrity/Intactness: The memorial is intact although its relocation has affected its symbolic integrity as representing the start of Anzac Parade. The obelisk is also not easily accessible to any member of the public who may wish to read the plaque as it is located at the centre of six lanes of traffic.

Additionally, the obelisk is suffering from erosion, with flaking sandstone particularly evident at the midway point.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

- It is recommended that the obelisk be nominated for inclusion on the State Heritage Register as an item of state significance; - As the obelisk is suffering the effects of erosion, it is recommended that the item be assessed by an experienced stone mason to ascertain the degree of damage, and the best course of action to ensure its conservation; - From a heritage perspective, it would be preferable for the obelisk to be reinstated in its original position at the head of Anzac Parade. However, this course of action is determinate upon the assumption that the item can be safely moved and retained in its new context. Consideration for any potential risk associated with vehicular collision also needs to be assessed prior to its relocation; - It is recommended that archival recording be undertaken prior to any modification of the obelisk.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register  08 May 06   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written Randwick City Council Randwick City Council Website/ Street names A-F
WrittenDaniel Percival, RTA Environment Branch2006Anzac Parade Obelisk - Heritage Assessment for the RTA Section 170 Register
WrittenGodden Mackay Heritage Consultants1997Eastern Distributor: Drivers Triangle to Link Road. Prepared for Leighton Contractors
WrittenMain Roads Journal1977"Anzac Parade 1917 - 1977; Sixty years later", Main Roads Journal Dec 1977

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4300438


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