HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive
Public Art : HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive
Artist/sculptor : Unknown
Date Unveiled : The HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive was
unveiled in 2001 by the Hon Tom Stephens, MLC, on the 60th anniversary of the sinking of the HMAS Sydney.
Description : The HMAS Syndey Memorial Drive is a
long stretch of road dedicated to the 645 men who lost their lives when the HMAS Sydney was sunk off the coast of
Western Australia in 1941. Lining the road are 645 plaques & palms representing the 645 souls
lost on HMAS Sydney II on that fateful day in November, 1941. Underneath each palm is a plaque bearing the name of
a seaman who gave of his life.
Location : HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive, Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Events of 19th November 1941 : The world was at war
and Australia was exceedingly vulnerable to both German and Japaneses attacks, due to its large
coastline (impossible to defend). On the 19th of November, 1941 as the HMAS Sydney II headed back to
Fremantle harbour, it spotted a merchant ship about 150 miles south west of Carnarvon. As was routine at
times of war the Captain of the Sydney requested that the ship identify itself. Unfortunately the Sydney had
positioned itself into a vulnerable position and when the Merchant Ship revealed itself to be the German cruiser
HSK Kormoran a fight ensued. The fate of the Sydney remained a mystery despite detailed accounts by the survivors
of the HSK Kormoran that she had sunk after being hit by a torpedo. Over the years conspiracy theories concerning
the events had only increased speculation to the fate of the 645 Australian seaman who lost their lives. It was
only in 2006 that the body of a sailor, found on Christmas Island, was exhumed and formally identified as a crew
member of HMAS SYdney. On March 16th, 2008 Australia woke to the news that the wreckage of the HMAS Sydney had
finally been found. Click here for a more detailed account of the HMAS Sydney.
Background to the HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive : The HMAS
Sydney Memorial Drive was the brainchild of local businessman and RSL President Lex Fullarton, who encourage
the local community to donate time, money and spirit into creating a memorial. The people of Carnarvon
have always had a strong bond with the event of 1941 and were actively involved in the aftermath of the
tragedy. The members of the Carnarvon Apex Club were given the labourious task of pouring concrete for the 645
plaques (which took weeks). The drive was unveiled on the 60th anniversary of the sinking of the HMAS
Sydney and was attended by former crew members of the Sydney and also several survivors of the HSK
Kormoran.The Carnarvon community used $360,000 of its own funds and $40,000 from the Gascoyne Development
Commission to build a fitting and lasting reminder of the event which shocked a nation.
Lest We Forget