KILDA ROAD, MELBOURNE
Soon after the death of Sir Edward
Dunlop in 1993, the people of Victoria spontaneously donated a large
amount of money to erect in Melbourne a memorial to a great Victorian
and Australian, Sir Edward Dunlop.
The "Weary" Dunlop Appeals Committee was formed under the
chairmanship of Mr Peter Nixon and within this committee were some of
Australia's and Victoria's leading personalities. The committee called a
group of 36 sculptors from around AustiC1110 LU tender proposals for a
statue to 11 Weary". From this list of proposals, the committee
chose five sculptors to prepare a marquette for final consideration.
These marquettes eventually resulted in the design that was accepted and
produced by Peter Corlett.
Corlett worked on the statue during 1994 and this year, and recently had
it completed ready for installation in St Kilda Road on August 15, 1995.
Sir Edward Dunlop's life had spanned many great events. Paramount among
these, however, was his period of captivity under the Japanese from 1942
to 1945. It was recognised by the committee that many other great
doctors had served with Dunlop and, with this in mind, a proposal from
the committee to commemorate all doctors was felt an important part of
the overall concept of this memorial.
Peter Nixon invited Dr Ross Bastiaan, a periodontist in Melbourne who
had had extensive experience in the construction of bronze plaques
around different parts of the world, to place before the committee a
design proposal for the memorial and statue.
In December of last year, he designed the memorial that you see today
which was to embrace all the aspects of Dunlop's story and the role of
the doctors and prisoners-of-war under the Japanese.
The design incorporates a forecourt area where 22 railway sleepers are
placed at ground level with St Kilda Road. The 22 sleepers represent the
22,000 Australian men and women captured by the Japanese during !he
Second World War. In each sleeper are two iron spikes. These spikes are
the original spikes driven by our men to hold the rails on the
Burma-Thailand railway. They have lain almost untouched in the Thailand
jungle until they were rescued by Mr Bill Toon, a prisoner-of-war who
returned to Thailand on Anzac Day this year. Bill Toon has collected 44
spikes and through his efforts they have been brought to Australia as
part of the commemoration. They are set a metre apart which was the
gauge of the Burma-Thailand railway.
From the timber floor, 8 steps rise before you. Each of these steps
represents 1,000 Australians killed during their captivity under the
Japanese. Set into the vertical risers on each step are the 121 medical
practitioners who were serving in the Australian Armed Forced and were
captured by the Japanese. These doctors came to symbolise the greatest
sacrifices and devotion to duty that Australia has ever witnessed. They
tended to the needs of our sick and dying men in conditions that are too
appalling to imagine. They are represented here all on an equal basis
with just their rank, initials and surname.
Flanking the staircase are two bronze plaques with sculptures centrally
located. These are the works of Dr Bastiaan and represent, to the left,
Changi prison and the story of that infamous area during its occupation
by the Japanese between 1942 and 1945. The duplicate of this plaque
stands outside the main gate of Changi Prison, Singapore, and its only
variation is the contents of the text. To the right of the staircase is
his second bronze which is of the Burma-Thailand railway. The passage of
the railway as it winds its way from Thailand to Burma is represented
and the main stopping points of interest today are located on the
plaque. A text explains the role of the doctors during the construction
of the railway. It was Sir Edward Dunlop who asked Ross Bastiaan to do
these plaques originally in 1992. It was he who inspired the young
dentist to negotiate with the Singapore and Thai governments to do the
sculpting and write the text so that the record of these men's
achievements and their agonies was recorded for all time. The Thailand
series stands on six key tourist areas along the old railway and are
read by hundreds daily.
From the staircase the pathway now leads to the Dunlop statue. Prior to
the statue, however, are two further plaques. The plaque to the left
tells the story of "Weary" Dunlop from his early days through
to immediately post-war. On this plaque Peter Corlett has a small relief
sculpture of "Weary" as he appeared soon after his release
To the right is a similar plaque but here is recorded "Weary's"
great achievements in the post-war period until his death in 1993.
Complementing the plaque is a bas relief sculpture of "Weary"
in a familiar saluting pose as seen by thousands on Anzac Day each year.
The main part of this memorial, however, remains and there before you is
the statue of "Weary" Dunlop. It was sculpted by Peter Corlett
in the last six months and is 1-1 /4 times'life size. I he sculpture
represents "Weary" as many Victorians knew him and the hat was
his familiar friend whilst his other hand has the fingers joined in the
Buddhist symbol of eternal life. ("Weary" professed a strong
leaning towards Buddhism.) A red poppy symbolising remembrance is seen
in "Weary's left lapel. Peter Corlett has brilliantly captured the
strength of personality and compassion of "Weary" Dunlop. The
face reflects these great qualities in the man and will shine through to
the generations who come but never knew him.
"Weary's" epitaph on the two bronze plaques has been crafted
by Dr John Colbatch (a lifetime friend and professional colleague of
"Weary") and Dr Ross Bastiaan. Members of the
"Weary" Dunlop Appeals Committee have also contributed and it
can be expressed that the words represented here are those felt by many
who knew him well.
The Appeals Committee worked in close collaboration with the many
departments of the Melbourne City Council. Under their guidance, the
memorial was constructed and they took full responsibility for the
technical aspects of the construction.
The community is indebted also to Western Mining Corporation for the
donation of the bronzework in the Dunlop statue, whilst Arrow Engraving
and Foundry in Cheltenham, Melbourne, donated the bronze in the numerous
plaques in the foreground areas of the statue.
The "Weary" Dunlop Appeal raised over $400,000. This project
will absorb a great deal of this money, however, the balance will be
placed within the "Weary" Dunlop Fund for medical research and
act as an ongoing living memorial to the man.
The driving force, however, in this whole profect was Peter Nixon, who
has overseen all aspects and worked tirelessly to make sure Sir Edward
"Weary" Dunlop's name will never be forgotten.