Australia’s most significant contribution to victory in the First World War was made on the Western Front in France and Belgium between 1916 and 1918. More than 295,000 Australians served on the Front, more than 46,000 lost their lives and another 130,000 were wounded.
Australian Government partnership
The Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front is a A$10 million Australian Government initiative to establish, in partnership with French and Belgian authorities, a commemorative trail highlighting sites along the Western Front that allow visitors to interpret the Australian experience of war. The total combined contribution from all partners is $35 million.
In many of the locations, French and Belgian communities have long recognised Australia’s contribution to their countries during the war and have existing local museums or visitor facilities that are being refurbished or enhanced to form part of the Australian Remembrance Trail.
Each site is being interpreted in a unique way, using both traditional and digital media to provide an engaging visitor experience. Together, the sites of the Trail will be a fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front. To complete the Trail, the Australian Government has built the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial near Villers‑Bretonneux, France. This major new interpretive centre tells the entire Australian story of the Western Front and become the central ‘hub’ of the Trail.
Key Trail sites
- Ieper (Ypres), Belgium – features the refurbished In Flanders Fields Museum. Nearby is the Menin Gate Memorial.
- Zonnebeke, Belgium – features an Australian display at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, and a new Australian section of the Passchendaele Memorial Garden Nearby is Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Fifth Australian Division Memorial.
- Ploegsteert Wood, Belgium – the Plugstreet 14-18 Experience interpretive centre is located adjacent to the Berks Cemetery Extension and Ploegsteert Memorial. Nearby is the Toronto Avenue Cemetery.
- Fromelles, France – the new Battle of Fromelles Museum is located adjacent to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. Nearby are the Australian Memorial Park (‘Cobbers’ statue) and VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial.
- Bullecourt, France – features the refurbished Jean and Denise Letaille Museum 1917. Nearby is the Australian Memorial Park and The Digger Memorial.
- Pozières, France – improved visitor facilities, marked walking trails with the supporting Australians in the Somme 16&18 app (for Android and Apple devices) and new interpretive materials encompassing the First Australian Division Memorial and the Windmill Site.
- Vignacourt, France – a new visitor centre in the Thuillier Farmhouse exploring the experiences of Australian soldiers ‘behind the lines’ will open in 2017.
- Villers-Bretonneux, France – the Franco-Australian Museum in the Victoria school has temporarily relocated to the school’s Victoria Hall while the museum undergoes extensive refurbishment ahead of Anzac Day 2017. Nearby are the Australian National Memorial and the Adelaide Cemetery.
- Dernancourt, France – features a new walking trail supported by the Australians in the Somme 16&18 app (for Android and Apple devices).
- Le Hamel, France – features the refurbished Australian Corps Memorial Park.
- Péronne / Mont St Quentin, France – features a new Australia room at Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne and a marked walking trail covering the significant battle of Mont St Quentin and the Second Australian Division Memorial.
Virtual reality technology and stunning 360-degree drone footage are bringing the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front to Australians across the world, through an app called Anzac 360 that features interactive videos.
This new app and its videos, developed in partnership with News Corp Australia and produced by Grainger Films, will allow all Australians, including our next generation of schoolchildren, to experience these sites from their classroom or at home.
It will inspire people to travel to France or Belgium to see the Trail for themselves while giving those who cannot visit the sites in person the next best thing.
Eight key sites and battles are explained, highlighting the challenges our troops faced some 100 years ago, from the tactical decisions that had to be made to moments of extraordinary bravery that resulted in a Victoria Cross.
The app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play. Search Anzac 360.
Australian Remembrance Trail sites:
- Ieper (Ypres), Belgium
- Zonnebeke / Passchendaele, Belgium
- Ploegsteert, Belgium
- Fromelles, France
- Bullecourt, France
- Pozières, France
- Vignacourt, France
- Villers-Bretonneux, France
- Dernancourt, France
- Le Hamel, France
- Péronne / Mont St Quentin, France