The Cameron Memorial Cross, Mount Macedon, donated by William Cameron, was dedicated in 1935 to the Australian service people who have been killed in the First World War. Constructed of Wunderlich terra cotta tiles on a steel base, it has withstood lightning strikes and bushfires.
How is it significant?
The Cameron Memorial Cross is significant to the State of Victoria for historic, social and aesthetic reasons.
Why is it significant?
The Cameron memorial cross is important for reasons of spiritual, symbolic cultural and social reasons as a memorial for those who lost their lives in the First World War, and became for many a symbol of courage and survival after the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. The custom or function of commemorating the war dead is observed at a dawn service held at the base of the cross annually. The size, simplicity of the design of the Cameron Memorial Cross, along with its siting on mount Macedon, is a rare example of a memorial commemorating those who died in the First World War. It is able to demonstrate an association with important events in Victoria?s history, the First World War, and it demonstrates the use of particular material in the form of Wunderlich tiles which, because of their reflective nature, are able to enhance the simplicity and symbolism of the cross, and enable it to be viewed from considerable distances.
Mount Macedon War Memorial Cross (Cameron Memorial Cross) - Veterans Description for Public
The Mount Macedon War Memorial Cross, located at 405 Cameron Drive, was donated by William Cameron of Cameron Lodge, along with the roadway and gates, to the people of Gisborne Shire as a memorial to the soldiers of the First World War. It was announced in the Argus in 1932, that the cross would be set at an elevation of 3324 feet and floodlit at night, so that it would be visible from Melbourne. The cross was designed by Edward Campbell & Sons of Melbourne, with the actual erection on site taking 25 hours. It was completed by 1935, with dedication services held on March 16th, when the cross was to be unveiled by His Excellency Lord Huntingfield KCMG. The unveiling of the Cross has generally been attributed to the State Governor, Lord Huntingfield, however, in the end the unveiling was performed by the premier, Sir Stanley Argyle.
The Cross was described at its opening as, 'Seventy feet in height with a plinth 14 feet in width, the Cross rests on a circular base 38 feet in diameter. The pale yellow stone, in relief against the sombre colours of the dense bush which clothes the Mount, is conspicuous for miles across the plains 2000 feet below.'
On two sides of the cross in relief, two bronze crusader swords, each 25 feet long point to the ground. About the circular base are trim lawns, trees and shrubs. The Cross, floodlit at night, bears the inscription, 'To the Glory of God and in memory of Australia's sons 1914-18'. Death cannot rob them of their Glory. Nor Time Efface the Memory of Their Gallant Deeds'.
Apart from its associations with the First World War, the cross is a symbol of Cameron's concern for the unemployed during the Great Depression, being a major project among others which he financed for unemployment relief work. Initially the Cross was not a favourable concept with anyone but those to whom it gave employment. People also thought the road should have been made before the Cross was erected rather than the reverse. Nonetheless, the cross has attracted long-term national and international tourism, due to its prominence and unique location, and has become one of the state's best known landmarks.
Cameron paid for the surrounding gardens and water storage, as well as the three mile road which linked the Cross with the Mount Macedon Road. In 1941, the road opened at a total cost of £30,000. Cameron also inspired the formation in 1944 of a committee of management, consisting of representatives from the Gisborne Shire, Forest Commission, the RSL and the Cameron estate. In 1953, after years of neglect local residents commenced fund raising for repair of the Cross and its surrounds. The residents paid £5000 to renew the elevation of the flood lights, erect a kiosk and caretaker's residence, clear the surrounding bush and restore the gardens. Constructed of Wunderlich terra cotta tiles on a steel base, the Cross has withstood lightning strikes and the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.