The Pool of Remembrance Concept

The Pool of Remembrance

The Pool of Remembrance

On 16th of March 2008 the wreck of HMAS Sydney II was found in position 26 14 45 S – 111 12 55 E.


The intention is to complete the original HMAS Sydney II Memorial project by incorporating concepts that were not possible for the 60th Anniversary in 2001 and which could only be implemented upon the discovery of the location of the Sydney. This occurred on 16th March 2008 and the Pool of Remembrance Project was launched.

This would be achieved by the creation of a dignified commemorative area of contemplation and remembrance, complimentary to the existing Memorial precinct, without intruding on any previous symbolic elements. It is a ‘ circle within the circle’ of the original Memorial, which symbolizes the ‘circle of life and death’ and the concept of Eternity and the Infinite.

The centrepiece

The centrepiece and heart of this ‘element’ is a Pool of Remembrance. As an appropriate place of commemoration and contemplation, it was decided that no new vertical elements or major dramatic features would be used in the design.

The final concept is a simple, recessed pool, approached by circular terracing symbolically descending ‘down’ into the depths, as it were, evocative of the war grave where the ship now silently rests on the sea floor, 2,500 meters deep, 120 nautical miles off Steep Point, Shire of Shark Bay, WA.

The floor

The floor of the pool forms a map, 5 meters across, showing the location of HMAS Sydney II, embedded in coloured granite. A 2-meter high Stainless Steel gull is fixed on wingtip to the exact spot where the Sydney lies, with the co-ordinates radiating out from this, both on the exact bearing towards the wreck site. 26 14 45 S – 111 12 55 E. A circular waterfall pouring out from under the bottom terrace dramatically reinforces the concept of ‘going down into the depths’ and provides the final element all Naval Memorials should have; water. Inspired by the shadow pattern of the gulls under the Dome of Souls, the lowest terrace circling the Pool is formed in polished black granite, into which is engraved images of 644 Silver Gull shadows, enclosing the pool and the ship. The 645th Sea Gull stands alone on the co-ordinates of the Wreck site in the centre of the Pool.

Silver Gull 

Silver Gull is Number 645.

Back Granite

The polished black granite symbolically links this final terrace to the Wall of Remembrance.

LED Lighting

At night, circles of under-step LED Lighting create a somber, haunting effect, underscoring and amplifying the quiet contemplative atmosphere of the surrounding Memorial precinct.

The Waiting Woman

Close by, the Waiting Woman waits no more. Now she watches over her loved ones, eternally at rest. A major aspect of the idea behind the Circle of Life and Death, was the concept of the Arms of the Nation welcoming back it’s ‘Lost loved ones’– in effect what the Waiting Woman is waiting for, has now been found. She is no longer ‘alone’.

Her loneliness, sense of loss & waiting has been tempered by the discovery of the ship where her men now lie. By enclosing the Pool of Remembrance, with all its own particular symbolism, we are in effect ‘enclosing’ the Lost Loved Ones in a final embrace of comfort and love- giving them back, as it were, to their families and friends in an ultimate gesture of peace. This is the principle reason why we chose the location for the Pool of Remembrance beside the Waiting Woman.

The circle of life and death embodied in the original design of the National Memorial to HMAS Sydney II, Mount Scott, has now been closed.

Charles Smith & Joan Walsh-Smith: 2008

Artist’s note: 2011

“by strange coincidence, upon surveying the site for the Pool of Remembrance, to establish the exact bearing of the wreck, we discovered that the “ Waiting Woman” is gazing exactly along this bearing, although we had no idea where the ship lay when we installed her on site in 2001”

Based on the above and in order to develop the Memorial to its full potential, we recommend the following: