Melbourne, along with every other city, town and small country community in the 1920s, wanted to create a permanent memorial for those who died during what was then called The Great War. A competition was held to select a design and the eventual winners were 2 architects, who were also war veterans.
The foundation stone was laid on Armistice Day (11th of November) 1927 and the building was finished in September 1934. It was originally built to commemorate those who died in World War I, after World War II the forecourt was built to commemorate those who died during that war. To the right of the picture is the cenopath which has the names of the major WW2 theatres of war and the eternal flame infront of it.
Not everyone liked the design which was a deliberate copy (or inspired by!) ancient Greek buildings. That was my first impression as well, lots of columns and stone carvings!
Once inside at entrance level, there is the sanctuary, which has the tomb of unknown soldier. On November 11th, a ray of sunlight comes through an aperture in the roof and shines on the word love in the inscription. (Was there a few days too early to test that out!)
Going downstairs under the sanctuary is the crypt, with the flags of all the units that served. The statue in the centre is quite poignant, it's a father and son. One fought in the First World War and the other the Second.
Also downstairs is an exhibition space called "Galleries of Remembrance" which was opened in 2014. (That surprised me when I read about it as it was so recent)
The colonial era.
A restored lifeboat from the SS Devanha, which was used during the start of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
A British flag that flew from the Sultan of Johore's palace and was taken down in 1942 and then hidden by prisoners in the Changi Prisoner of War camp. It was signed by the prisoners, including some who were went to work on the Burma railroad and died there. The flag was hidden in the camp for nearly 3 years.
More recent conflicts, the Vietnam war.
Leaving the downstairs part, you can take the stairs to the balcony that wraps around the roof.
I really liked this, I'm assuming this is one of the outdoor meeting areas, the sunshade is in the shape and form of a poppy. (Which itself is the symbol of remembrance)
Great view from the front balcony, looking across the forecourt, down the Avenue of Remembrance. Each of the trees has a plaque commemorating a particular regiment or branch of the military. Then there's the city skyline beyond.