When we travel, it is often the stories of those places that leave a lasting impression on us rather than the destination itself. Travelling to the Sir John Monash Centre is no different.
The Centre tells the story of ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things on the battlefields of the Western Front during World War I. And it does so like nowhere else in the world.
Leading-edge multimedia displays tell the stories of Australians through their own voices with letters, diaries and life-size images.
A visit to the Sir John Monash Centre is an immersive experience that will move you.
Set on the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in northern France, the Centre is adjacent to the Australian National Memorial. It is a 90-minute drive from Paris.
The Centre’s namesake, Sir John Monash, led the Australian Corps with great success on the Western Front in 1918. Monash’s contributions led to the famous victory at Le Hamel and became a template for later military operations.
The same year he was knighted on the battlefield for his role in this battle. Many historians consider Sir John Monash to be the foremost Allied military commander of the First World War.
An experience like no other
What is so distinctive about the Sir John Monash Centre is its use of audio-visual and highly-engaging displays that give you a personal insight into the experiences of those that served.
The Centre combines large-scale interactive touch screens and tables with a specially-designed app to educate a new kind of audience. You can download the Sir John Monash Centre app on Apple or Android devices, you can use the Centre’s free Wi-Fi to download and use it.
A 360-degree full-surround theatre lies in the heart of the Sir John Monash Centre. It places visitors right into the battles and features two emotive narratives which tell the stories of Monash and Hamel.
For the first time, you begin to fathom some of the deeply difficult experiences of war – the sounds, the sights and the emotions.
As you walk through the Sir John Monash galleries, you will hear the stories of Australia before the war and the reasons why Australia went to war.
You will learn where and when Australia fought on the Western Front. And you will understand how our troops contributed to the eventual Allied victory.
The most affecting insight into the impact of war is the re-enactment, archive footage and images. Through them, you will hear the stories of men and women at war through their very own words.
Once you return to the foyer, you will continue your journey eastwards towards a light-filled courtyard. It is a quiet place where you can reflect on the Australian experience of war and how it impacted the individuals who served.
A visit to the Sir John Monash Centre will leave you with a sense of quiet pride in the extraordinary efforts of Australians.
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm daily. Closed from 23 December 2021 to 2 January 2022 included, and from 14 February 2022 to 6 March 2022.
Admission: Entry to the Sir John Monash Centre is free but you should book your visit online. The length of your visit will vary depending on your interest but most people need 1.5 to two hours.
More info: sjmc.gov.au
Getting there: Australians can now fly to France from Sydney and Melbourne.
Check smartraveller for updates.
This article was produced in partnership with the Sir John Monash Centre
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