Proposed ‘Sanctuary of The Deep’ – Interpretive Centre: A total submersive experience:

Final stage of development at the HMAS Sydney Memorial Geraldton

The addition of a circular’ inner sanctuary’  of exactly the same diameter as the Dome of Souls and the Pool of Remembrance, was inspired by the eerie images of the wreck of the Sydney, published by the Finding Sydney Foundation.


It is obvious that we and others, will never physically visit the Wreck, so we were inspired to create a visual, tactile experience which would, psychologically, approximate the reality of actually being there on the sea floor…  surrounded by these powerful, somber images, which are now available of the Sydney in her final resting place.  Modern technology has given us the ability to infuse these startling images into glass. Thus, the medium of glass becomes a perfect visual metaphor for water: the ultimate effect on the observer being the closest approximation of actually walking along the deep ocean floor amongst the debris field.

We feel certain that the experience of standing in that total glass-lined reflective space, including floor and ceiling, every surface shimmering silently with timeless images of the stricken Ship, bathed in a low, sombre blue-green glow, would impart an unforgettable experience to the visitor. We believe that this ‘Inner Sanctum of the Deep’ will be a unique experience for visitors and one that will provoke a profound emotional response, leading to a new level of appreciation and unique understanding of the actual reality of the HMAS Sydney II tragedy.

The use of images infused into glass and back-lit  subtly but dramatically, creates an extraordinary, almost 3D effect, and can in no way be compared visually and emotionally to these same images printed onto display boards. We have already developed this concept much further in order to dramatically increase the impact of, what would be we believe, a truly awesome experience. This development involves ‘faceting’ the glass sheets and ‘inclining’ them inwards from floor to ceiling. We are suggesting a floor ceiling height of 3.5 meters. We also realize that a circular viewing ‘platform’ will be needed, as actually walking on glass would be too dangerous. This would have a ‘gang-plank’ design ambiance appropriate to the ethos of the Sydney environment

The Entrance Circulating Lobby is based loosely upon the plan of the Bridge of the Sydney.  This area has still to be defined.  As one enters, to the left would be a Rest Area, again to be developed; and to the right, would be a significantly upgraded Toilet Block, designed to cater for the increased visitor numbers. All these would be designed in consultation with the Committee as practical ‘elements’ which need to be suitably set out according to perceived requirement.

The entire concept is an outline concept sketch only, but is designed, most importantly, to be visually integrated within the hillside, as one approaches to the Memorial, without affecting or compromising any of the essential sight lines.

It would contain all the support facilities necessary for a major National Memorial whose existence would not only function technically, but significantly raise the status and profile of the Memorial to the highest International standards.

Other than the specific ‘Sacred Sanctuary of the Deep’ inner chamber, which we regard as a special ‘Sacred Chamber of Contemplation’, we would like the general layout to be regarded as space or Interpretive Centre which can be utilised in a wide variety of ways, to be decided by the Committee; the City and other involved parties.

Our intention as designers is simply to provide the general layout as a blank canvas at this stage, which allows for a wide variety of uses, from basic functional aspects such as toilets, simple rest and restoration areas and a viewing platform out over Geraldton. This is all within the concept of using the symbolic ‘Bridge of the Ship’ Motif as the starting point, then embedding the entire facility into the hillside, underground, in a discreet and unobtrusive way, but which will allow for extensive use by the average of 300 visitors per day ( Memorial Tour Guides data ) and from 92 countries and be complimentary without affecting or intruding on the Memorial itself.

Original Concept

This was the original concept for the Pool of Remembrance and Sanctuary of the Deep combined as one design in 2008. This concept was abandoned for budgetary considerations and separated into two separate projects. The Pool of Remembrance was completed in 2011 and The Sanctuary of the Deep is still awaiting funding.

Joan Walsh-Smith & Charles Smith.
Oct 2011


Project Image Gallery

Please find below, the proposed design concepts of  the Proposed  ‘ Sanctuary of The Deep ‘.

( click thumbnails to start image  slide show )


Show your Support

If you would like to show your support for the Proposed  ‘ Sanctuary of The Deep ‘ please post your comments on our comments Feedback form which then will be posted below.

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Public Comments

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6 Responses to Sanctuary of The Deep – Mt Scott Interpretive Centre

  • Hi Charles and Joan, I have just been looking at the proposal for the Sanctuary of the Deep and concept. It looks to be an outstanding piece of design and work. To me it is a fitting final memorial to the lost crew members. And place of reflection and contemplation for the families of the crew members lost.

    Kind Regards Bruce and Margaret Johnson

  • Having a father who served in the RAN and a relative who was lost when Sydney went down I feel that an interpretive centre at the Memorial site is the only fitting location for a tribute to those who lost their lives in service of our country. The design shown on this site is truly reflective of both the horror of this tragedy and the preservation of the honour of those lost. It would be criminal to see this interpretive centre anywhere other than at the Memorial site…… Tony Emmott

  • My father CPO Louis Nicholas Sampson was one of the 645 crew lost on Sydney II. and we have missed him every day since. I have been to the Memorial about 4 times since it opened and each time I feel close to him somehow and it is a very special feeling, impossible to explain Everything in this Memorial has been beautifully designed showing honour and respect to these brave men for the sacrifice they made and I can only imagine the Sanctuary of the Deep will add even further to this beautiful Memorial. I look forward to visiting again when it is completed. Totally awe inspiring. Helen Miller

  • As my father’s name is on this beautiful Memorial and I have visited it several times, I am naturally interested in any developments taking place here. I think an interpretive centre with pictures and more information at the site would be a great idea and look forward to seeing this happen.

  • I would like to show my support for the development of the ‘Sanctuary of the Deep’ Interpretive Centre at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial site in Geraldton. I feel this space could add something really special to the memorial site, allowing people to feel connected to the memorial and the actual underwater site, what an amazing place of reflection it would be, a true immersion. I also think it would also allow people of all ages to understand the true gravity of what happened, and would make it as tactile an experience as possible.

  • As a relative of a gunner who was lost on this ship HMAS ll, I find it to be very fitting to the lost souls and their loves ones left behind a place to show respect for their courage and sacrifice they made for their country a place to remember them and to pray to seek comfort.