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The Square is named in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a contingent of Australian and New Zealand troops first formed during World War I. The corp, known as the Anzacs, also participated in World War II and the Vietnam War. Members of the public began lobbying for the Square in 1916, while World War I still raged throughout Europe and the Pacific. The money for construction was paid for entirely by the public during this time of economic strife, which shows how deeply the local community were affected by the sacrifice of the servicemen and women who had fought for their country. It took 15 years to raise funds and complete construction. Anzac Square was officially opened on Armistice Day in 1930, exactly 12 years after the treaty was signed to end the fighting on the Western Front (effectively bringing World War I to a close).
The Shrine of Remembrance is the most striking feature in the Square. Perched atop a sandstone retaining wall, the Shrine consists of 18 sandstone columns encompassing a brass urn containing the Eternal Flame of Remembrance. This flame burns without ceasing, to signify the eternal sacrifice of those who gave their lives in armed conflict. The crypt underneath the Shrine is home to the World War I and World War II Shrines of Memories. These spaces contain plaques dedicated to the Australian regiments who fought during these conflicts and striking sculptures by renowned local sculptors. Further along the tunnel toward Central Station is the former headquarters for the Queensland Returned Service League, which was converted into an Exhibition Space during renovations and repair work in 2014.
A formal garden occupies the remainder of Anzac Square. This beautiful green space also serves to commemorate the country’s armed forces. The three paths through the garden signify the three branches of the armed forces – the Army, Navy and Air Force. The bottle trees scattered throughout the garden commemorate Queensland’s involvement in the Boer War, and were actually donated by a Colonel who participated in the conflict. Similarly, the palm trees commemorate those who served in the Middle East during the World Wars.
Anzac Square is a fairly busy part of the city at any time of the year, especially during lunch hours when the local office workers converge to have lunch on the lawn in the sunshine. But it’s most crowded on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, when the site hosts memorial services involving dignitaries, ex-servicemen and current members of the armed forces.