Atherton War Memorial

As with many other Australian towns and communities, Atherton wished to put in place a tangible memorial to those who had served during the First World War.  Atherton’s First World War memorial is a large sandstone monument with a life-size statue of an Australian soldier on a tall pedestal with an octagonal base.  The statue is in an active or animated pose with one arm raised, wearing a helmet and gas mask and holding a rifle with fixed bayonet.  The soldier’s active stance contrasts with other similar war memorials where the soldier statue is shown with a passive stance.

The pedestal, which is capped by a white cornice, has two leaded marble plates attached, one for the First World War and the other for the Second World War.  These two plates bear the names of those soldiers who lost their lives in each conflict, 67 in the First World War and 35 during the Second World War.  The monument is surrounded by a road reserve containing a war trophy gun, flagstaff, flower beds and trees.  The statue is intact with the exception of having been painted at some point as well as the rifle having been replaced.  The roll of honour for the First World War is inscribed, “Lest we forget.  This memorial is dedicated to the glorious memory to the men of the Atherton Tableland who fought and paid the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918”.

The Atherton War Memorial was unveiled on 1st May 1924 by the Chairman of the Tinaroo Shire, Mr. Grau.  It is believed to have been designed and constructed by the main monumental firm in North Queensland at that time, Melrose and Fenwick. The funds needed to construct the monument were raised by the community with excess patriotic funds raised from various sources enabling the expansion of the Atherton Hospital into a larger war memorial hospital.

 

The Atherton War Memorial was formerly located in the town’s main intersection of Main and Vernon streets but was relocated two blocks north-east to the grounds of the RSL in the 1980s.  Despite this move away from its original location, the memorial remains a major landmark in Atherton.

This image shows the Atherton War Memorial in 1944, in its original location at the centre of the town.

Brian Randall, Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

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