Naval Memorial Brisbane 2011

29th November 2010 

To all interested parties:    Information and request for funding for Naval Memorial Brisbane 2011. 

July 10 2011 is the Centenary of the receipt of the Royal Warrant by the Australian Navy. In conjunction with representatives of the Royal Australian Navy – past and serving members of the RAN, St. Mary’s church Kangaroo Point has embarked on a course to build a Memorial to all have served in the Queensland Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

I am sure you are aware that St. Mary’s Church Kangaroo Point is the ‘Naval Church’ of South East Queensland, with strong links to the past of both the original Queensland Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, and was the site of the first ‘Ship to Shore’ Naval communication from the HMQS Gayundah off Moreton Island to a radio station at St. Mary’s in April 1903.

An energetic committee has been planning the Memorial, its form and purpose for many months. This committee is now in a position to approach the nation in order to gain support and funds for this important project. There is a very strong naval and maritime community in South East Queensland in particular and it is the earnest desire of the Committee that as many as possible should be made aware of this project.  An outline of the project is also attached.  Further detail is available from the website

On behalf of the Committee, we would very much like to ask for your support for this project, both to publicise our intentions and to assist us to finance its construction. This is a significant Memorial for the Navy, St. Mary’s Church, the city of Brisbane and all who have lost loved ones in the service of the Navy over the past 100 years.

It would also be our hope that you or your representative will be able to attend the Opening and Dedication of the Memorial on Sunday 10th July 2011.

Donations may be made in cash; by cheque payable to Kangaroo Point Anglican Parish R & M, or by direct transfer to BSB 034-844 Account Number 000042207 (first 4 zeros need to be included). We are seeking Tax deductibility for all donations in excess of $5.00.

With sincere thanks and in anticipation,

Yours Sincerely

 Cmdr Tony Townsend (Ret’d), Chairman



Introduction: St. Mary’s Anglican Church was built on the cliffs of Kangaroo Point in 1873 and from that time has enjoyed a wonderful relationship between the Queensland Navy, whose Headquarters  were sited on the banks of the river at the bottom of the cliff face with a steep staircase joining the two, and from 1911, the Royal Australian Navy.  It has been a long held tradition that indeed St. Mary’s was the Naval Chapel of the RAN in south east Queensland with the laying up of both the Royal Ensign and Australian Ensign.

Significantly, the first RAN ship to shore naval radio communication was transmitted from the Queensland gunboat HMQS GAYUNDAH off Moreton Island on 10th April 1903 to a receiving station located in what is now the front lawn of St. Mary’s church.

 In addition there is an existing memorial to the complement of HMAS Moreton 1945, a  memorial to those who perished in HMAS Voyager 1964 and a small memorial plaque in the Gardens of St. Mary’s – a gift from the Brisbane Sub Section of Naval Association in 1997. There are regular services conducted in the church for Navy Week, the commemoration of the Voyager disaster in February each year along with specific functions, naval funerals, weddings and Baptisms.

Recent Chapters at St. Mary’s:  Over the past six years, St. Mary’s Church Council has been extremely aware of significant changes in the Kangaroo Point area. It has also been aware of its responsibility to maintain this historic church in a manner befitting its National Heritage Status. St. Mary’s has set herself on a course of refurbishment and development that will see the Church completed and rejuvenated in a plan to be completed within five years.

 As work was generated to undertake significant repairs, renovations and development on the church site, it was felt that it was essential to embrace the historic links with the Navy and take measures to revisit and strengthen these connections.  A new Kangaroo Point Park was opened by the Premier in January 2010 replacing the defunct TAFE buildings formerly on that site. The opening of the Park has provided St. Mary’s with a much appreciated ambience and opening to the public. The Clem 7 Tunnel, the refurbishing Mt. Olivet hospital as St. Vincent’s Brisbane, along with other significant building ventures has assisted in the focus of the city turning to this site as a wonderful place to visit. St. Mary’s took steps in 2007 to revisit the direction it had with the Royal Australian Navy identifying a number of ways the ties between the Church and the Navy could be strengthened and enhanced.

As a result from that consultation, and as awareness that 2011 would be a significant year for the Royal Australian Navy, a proposal was put forward to mount a significant Naval Memorial in the grounds of St. Mary’s. This memorial will represent a number of important aspects of the connection between St. Mary’s and the Navy.

It might be supposed that a memorial sited in a churchyard would have very limited access for the public; nothing could be further from the truth in this instance. The new Park which adjoins the Church has some unique and picturesque views across the Brisbane River to the City Botanical Gardens and the CBD. The Brisbane City Council now has plans to extend this public attraction by constructing a new walkway along the cliff-face in front of St Mary’s. As a consequence of these developments, the church grounds are now open to any member of the public using the new Park; an access which will be enhanced by the new walk-way, and already the Committee is planning to install plaques and interpretive signs along the walk-way adjacent to the Memorial.

The Focus of the Proposed Memorial:  July 10 1911 is the Centenary of the receipt of the Royal Warrant by the Australian Navy. It is envisaged that the new memorial will be opened by an appropriate dignitary on that date in 2011 and be dedicated by the Archbishop of Brisbane. The Memorial will be dedicated to a broad cross section of Naval personnel involved in all conflicts and peacekeeping operations. The Memorial will embrace the widest possible ambience of commemoration of those who have served this country in all aspects of Naval life, and made the supreme sacrifice.

The Nature of the Memorial:  It is intended that the Memorial will be constructed of local Brisbane stone, a Tuff which is the material of St. Mary’s church. It will be located in the garden of the South West corner of the Church yard, overlooking the Historic Naval Stores on the Brisbane River and facing the church. There is a preliminary sketch which has been approved by the Organising Committee and an engineer and architect plan is currently being prepared.  Details of that design and budget for the initiative are under way.  A supply of Brisbane Tuff is available for use for the memorial at no cost, however, preliminary estimates suggest a project cost in the order of $65,000.

The Memorial will be sited in a corner of the Church grounds bordering both the Park, which is currently one to two metres above the level of church grounds, and the new walk-way. The sketches, which accompany this letter show the proposed layout, on the site of the original mast from which the first naval ship-to-shore communications were possible. The 12 metre flagpole with yard arm and gaff arm from which permission will be sought to fly both the ANF and AWE on suitable occasions will be clearly visible from across the river and will be floodlit.

In addition to the normal church celebrations, it should also be noted that St Mary’s is a highly desirable venue for weddings, with some 100 annually. Furthermore, the church organist, Mr Christopher Wrench, is one of the best recognised in Brisbane, as is the Director of the choir, Miss Emily Cox, and the church is the venue for a very active music programme, attracting an audience of hundreds annually. All members of the public attending these events will become aware of the Memorial and it is therefore most appropriate that this Memorial be sited in the grounds of St Mary’s.

The importance of Brisbane: Sydney is obviously the home of the RAN and will no doubt also be the site of a Memorial to mark this very special occasion. More recently, facilities in Fremantle have been expanded, while Darwin and Cairns are major RAN Bases. Here in Brisbane, infrastructure and a permanent service presence have been run down, although the State capital city remains a highly sought-after port for Navy ships to visit.

Nevertheless, Queensland remains strategically most important due to its proximity to Indonesia and the Torres Strait, its natural and mineral resources, and the shipping routes along the East Coast. The Battle of the Coral Sea, which marked a turning point in WW2, took place off the Queensland Coast and General MacArthur chose to set up his HQ in Brisbane to plan his campaign which eventuated in the surrender of Japan. The Port of Brisbane is a major terminus for import and export cargo of all types, and more recently cruise ships are based here and visit regularly. The links between the maritime and naval communities are very strong and extend along the coast of Queensland.

Queensland, and South East Queensland in particular have long been a fertile source of recruits for the RAN, always well above the norm from other States and Territories. This has lead to a very strong maritime community involving families with relatives and friends who may themselves have served or are still serving in the RAN. For all these reasons we believe that it is important to recognise the strong community support for the Navy which already exists, through the construction of this memorial in Brisbane.

Fundraising: With a projected budget of at least $65,000 based on preliminary estimates and therefore liable to increase rather than decrease, there needs to be some certainty regarding the likelihood of financing the project before undertaking further action.

The Committee is casting as wide a net as possible with the major focus for fundraising the naval and maritime community in Queensland, and particularly in South East Queensland. With such a large number of families in the community with naval and maritime connections, even a modest individual donation could result in an accumulation of substantial funds for the Memorial.

As this project marks an important Navy milestone, although the memorial will be sited on church land, an approach to church authorities is not considered appropriate and indeed informal discussions suggest that the likelihood of substantial funding from the Diocese is poor given the very recent completion of St John’s Cathedral. We are also approaching local authorities such as the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and the Jupiters Casino Community Benefit Fund. The Committee has also approached the Federal Government through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for a substantial grant but cannot rely on this one source.

We would also hope that donations would be forthcoming from corporations linked to the naval and maritime communities and from other philanthropic personalities.

Time Line: It is the intention of the committee to have the working plans prepared later this year which will enable accurate estimates of cost of the project. In the interim, we are mounting a campaign with as wide a focus as possible to raise the costs of the Memorial. Work will commence early in the New Year and should only take a few months to complete. A suitable celebration is being planned for the occasion on Sunday July 10 2011 in the grounds of St. Mary’s after a Church Service.

Conclusion:  It is the opinion of the Organising Committee and the Council of St. Mary’s Church that this project is a wonderful recognition of all aspects of the commitment of Naval Service Personnel who have served this country since its foundation, and of the faithful service of the Royal Australian Navy to this country over the past one hundred years. We believe this project is worthy of the support of all sectors of the community and will provide an excellent focus for Naval commemorations for generations to come. It is with great pleasure that we commend it to you.

 Yours Sincerely,

Cmdr Tony Townsend RAN (Ret’d)