We spent a couple of days in the coastal town of Geraldton last weekend. When we first drove through the town 6 weeks ago I honestly didn’t think much of it, but after spending a bit more time we found there were some charming elements to the place which I think makes it worth at least an overnight stay if you are in the area.
One of the most notable historical monuments of Geraldton is the wonderful HMAS Sydney II Memorial perched on top of the hill overlooking the coastline and Port. The HMAS Sydney was a ship built in the 1930’s and was used during battle in the Second World War. Geraldton hosted three visits of the HMAS Sydney, the last was from the 18th-20th October 1941.
On the 19th of November 1941 the 645 men aboard the HMAS Sydney fought their final battle. On return home to Australia after an escort mission the HMAS Sydney encountered the German Raider HSK Kormoran and became involved in an encounter that would eventually see the loss of both ships.
As at the 19th of November 2001 no trace had been found of the HMAS Sydney or her valiant crew, and the memorial was erected in their memory. The memorial is comprised of many symbolic elements which come together to create a respectful and meaningful tribute for those tragically lost. The dome is composed of 645 stainless steel sea gulls, one for every life lost. Outside the dome sanctuary stands a bronze sculpture known as the Waiting Woman. Frozen in time she gazes out to sea, her eyes fixed on the horizon as she waits for the return of the men from their journey. Through her, the grief of the families of those lost is felt.
66 years later, on March 16 2008 remains of the HMAS Sydney were found 120 nautical miles off Steep Point, WA. Steep Point is the western-most point of the Australian mainland. Ironically and enchantingly, the gaze of the Waiting Woman lingers along the exact compass bearing of where the ship now lays silently. She was placed prior to when the ship found, and has never been moved. It is said that she now watches over the men eternally at rest.
The memorial is moving and constructed with such magnificent symbolism. It is a beautiful tribute that has evolved since it was first constructed, and a fitting honour to those men who gave their lives for freedom.
As a meaningful monument, and also a wonderful lookout over part of the beautiful Coral Coastline, the memorial is most definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Geraldton, WA.