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Hobart Cenotaph, Tasmania

Hobart 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. 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.

It was designed by Hobart architectural firm Hutchinson and Walker, after their entry had won a public competition for the structure’s design that was held in 1923. Their original design was for an Obelisk that was to stand 65 feet (19.8 m) high, but it was decided to increase the height to 75 feet (23.3 m). The obelisk itself is stood upon a stepped plinth 8 metres square 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.

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.

The site of the Hobart Cenotaph was deliberately chosen for its prominence. Not only was 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 added.

The Hobart Cenotaph had been originally designed as a memorial to the Tasmanians who died in the service of 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”.

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