Home' In The City : In the City - Summer - 2013 Contents Amid the chaos of life, the long
hours, the incessant emails,
the traffic and the never-
ending to-do lists, it's easy to
lose track of what is important.
Veterans Park is humbly
nestled on the corner of Northbourne
Avenue and Bunda Street and is a small
space created to remember those who
paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could
enjoy these luxuries of life.
The memorial components of the park are
now listed as a war memorial in Australia.
These features include the flag pole
and stone base, a fountain that is a
Commonwealth asset, a commemorative
wall to Special Air Servicemen (SAS) killed
in action, a remembrance rose garden and
a plaque and magnolia tree dedicated to
Sir William Keys.
Veterans Park pays respect to those who
served or lost their lives while in Vietnam,
Korea, Borneo and Malaysia and it is one
of only two city parks easily accessible
from major pedestrian flows through Civic.
The area has undergone an extensive
makeover in the last year, reiterating the
importance of veterans' sacrifices and
creating a colourful brushstroke upon the
city's changing landscape.
The Economic Development Directorate
managed the project, the design was
produced by GHD and TRACT and Urban
Contractors constructed the refurbishment.
The cost of the total project, including
part of the City Cycle Loop and the verges
of Bunda Street between Mort Street and
Northbourne Avenue, was $2.65millon.
The refurbishment has reinvigorated the
park, increasing its popularity during
lunch hour as visitors make the most of the
abundant grass and seating in the area.
Consultation took place with the RSL,
Special Air Services Regiment (SAS), the
Korea & SE Forces Association, National
Capital Authority, a couple of business units
in TAMS and Sir William Keys' widow.
As part of the transformation, a new SAS
memorial was designed and constructed
in accordance with the wishes of the SAS
Ron Dempsey has been president of the
ACT branch of the SAS Association for 15
years. The branch has about 60 members
and is part of a national organisation
dedicated to the Special Air Service men
and women who lost their lives in battle
or those who have returned and appreciate
the camaraderie and support of others.
Before he knew of the upgrades at the
park, Dempsey had expressed a desire to
create a bigger memorial wall.
"Following discussions with the ACT
government however, we learned that
there were already plans to upgrade the
memorial," he says.
"There were half a dozen options to choose
from which I took to the members and we
decided from there."
The upgrade included new paths to improve
pedestrian movement in the park and open
up the park to views from the surrounding
streets. Improved surveillance in the
area has made the space much safer,
particularly at night.
ArtsACT was involved in discussions
with Legacy, Vietnam Veterans, RAAF
Association, ANU Strategic Defence Studies
Centre and the War Widows Guild on the
commemorative sculpture, which was
created by Matthew Harding.
The construction element of the project
involved the removal of the left turn slip
lane from Northbourne Avenue into Bunda
Street and the widening of the corner as a
Shrubs that formed a hedge around the
park were removed along with the old
furniture, lights, paths and lawn areas.
The fountain was restored, irrigation
and lawn replaced, new lighting and
furniture installed, and decorative fences
constructed along the Northbourne Avenue
and Mort Street edges.
Dempsey, who served in Vietnam in 1968,
says that memorial services are held at the
site twice a year.
He is thrilled about the upgrades and
believes it is a fitting tribute to those who
served while remaining aesthetically
"They've done a great job and really
opened the whole park up," he says.
"It's really important that there is a space
in the city where people can go to honour
them. It keeps the memory of the fallen in
Veterans Park provides an escape from the busy hum
of the city and evokes a calming feeling of sentiment
and pride. JASMINE HIGHFIELD takes a moment
to appreciate the meaning behind one of the city's
most significant green spaces.
It's really important that
there is a space in the city where
people can go to honour them.
It keeps the memory of the fallen
in our hearts."
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