What to expect at Field of Light: Avenue of Honour

This year marks 100 years since World War One’s ceasefire. Arguably there’s no better way to commemorate such a monumental turning point for peace than through art.

Picture a vista of swaying bulbs, gently illuminating the warm dusk air. See yourself wandering between them, as they bob and sway in the breeze. Field of Light: Avenue of Honour is a living, breathing tribute to the ANZACs, located on the last piece of Australian mainland many World War I soldiers ever saw. It’s also, perhaps, the most contemplative travel experience of the year.

Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany
Photo: Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany

Last port of call

It’s easy to see why Albany was chosen as the departure point for ANZAC troops during World War One. Flanked by the deep clear waters of King George Sound, the beautiful port town was well equipped to handle the many large ships which set sail from Australia for the Great War. For the many who would never return home, Albany represented something very important: a last glimpse of the motherland they would never see again.

Today, that’s a legacy taken very seriously in Albany. In 2014, the town unveiled its multi-award-winning National ANZAC Centre; an interactive, educational centre designed to connect this important slice of Australian history with the present. Now, a new outdoor art installation – Field of Light: Avenue of Honour – offers another means of commemoration, allowing visitors the space and quiet to contemplate this heritage in the beauty and fragility of a living, breathing memorial.

The National Anzac Centre
Photo: The National Anzac Centre

An illuminating experience

November 2018 marks 100 years since the Armistice between the Allies and the Germans was signed, but Field of Light: Avenue of Honour has arguably never been more relevant. Installed along the flanks of Albany’s Avenue of Honour, the 16,000- strong collection of slender bulbs will light the landscape between dusk and 10pm each day, in a complementary palette of white, yellows and greens. Visitors will be encouraged to visit the nearby ANZAC Centre before coming here, where they can learn more about Australia and New Zealand’s WWI heritage through touchscreens, displays and personal stories, as well as an ancestor search function.

As the day draws to a close, the nearby Field of Light will come alive, inviting visitors to stroll through the gently illuminated landscape and reflect on the sacrifice made by the ANZACs all those years ago.

Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany
Photo: Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany

An honourable avenue

Avenue of Honour gently slopes up the side of Mt Clarence, flanked by plaques engraved with the names of Australian and New Zealand soldiers. The road will be closed off during the evenings, to allow pedestrians plenty of space to enjoy the installation, you can take a short drive to the top of Mt Clarence during the day.

From here, 360-degree views reveal the location where convoys of ships were docked, and you can browse information panels and photos showing the departing ships. More than 41,000 troops left Albany’s shores during the Great War. Most didn’t come back.

Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany
Photo: Field of Light, Avenue of Honour, Albany

The city of Albany

A stroll through Albany’s city centre is a worthwhile exercise in history, too. In 1826, the town became Western Australia’s first European settlement. Originally intended to be WA’s capital city, significant investment was poured into its development.

Today, there’s still plenty of evidence of this visible in the town’s historic buildings and original shop awnings. Stroll along Stirling Terrace and stop for a beer at the heritage-listed 1910 White Star pub, a popular haunt for departing ANZACs, or try the Viet-French fusion food at the London Hotel, an historic building reminiscent of an English mansion, and home of lauded bar-restaurant Liberté. If you’ve got time, it’s also worth heading to The Gap nearby, a forceful display of the ocean’s strength which, a little like the Field of Light, offers plenty of space to sit and reflect in the surrounds of the area’s natural beauty.

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