Maintaining commemorative plaques is an exacting process

More than 500 bronze commemorative plaques at Adelaide River War and Wartime Casualty Cemetery have been carefully maintained to honour our war dead in perpetuity.

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG), which is part of DVA, manages 72 Commonwealth War Graves Commission war cemeteries and plots, four military cemeteries and 10 Gardens of Remembrance across Australia. One of our most visited of these is the Adelaide River War and Wartime Casualty Cemetery, some 116 kilometres from Darwin.

The graves of war dead at rest in the cemetery are marked by recumbent (flat) bronze plaques inspired by the commemorations developed for the graves of Commonwealth servicemen buried at Gallipoli. Throughout May, visitors to Adelaide River gained some insight into how the individual plaques are cared for and maintained.

The refurbishment is part of a national program of preventative maintenance that reduces the need for continual replacement and renewal of materials – many of which are finite resources. The refurbishment of plaques returns the commemoration to a like-new state.

The maintenance is a four-stage process.

  • First, the plaques are thoroughly cleaned and the surface carefully prepared for the application of a primer.
  • Then a base coating of paint is applied.
  • The surface is then lightly sanded, highlighting the letters and numerals on each commemoration.
  • Finally, a top coat of clear paint is applied to the plaque. This further highlights each veteran’s personal details and inscription and protects the plaque from corrosion.

The plaque refurbishment program not only safeguards the presentation of each commemoration to the highest possible standard, it ensures that the equality and dignity of each commemoration is maintained in perpetuity. 

The photographs below show the various stages of refurbishment.

For more information about visiting an Australian War Cemetery or Garden of Remembrance, visit DVA’s Anzac Portal, the DVA website, or call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

From top: preparing the surface; surface once primed; base coat; top coat.

A bronze plaque being sand-blasted
Plaque that is now silver-coloured
Plaque that is beige colour
Restored bronze plaque surrounded by masking tape