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Memorial upgrade to 'open up' North Tce precinct

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The rejuvenation of Adelaide’s cultural precinct on the northern city rim will be bolstered by an investment of up to $10 million, incorporating an enhancement of the existing War Memorial, as part of Labor’s “low-key” commemoration of the centenary of Anzac.

Plans for a Memorial Walk – first flagged in January last year – are still on track, but remain fluid, as the Government determines its final budget for the project. It has committed $3 million for “the state’s flagship Centenary of Anzac project”, has snared $5 million from the Commonwealth and hopes to prise $2 million from the cash-strapped Adelaide City Council.

“Those figures are a little fluid,” Veterans’ Affairs Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith told InDaily.

“We don’t really know the exact scope of it until the detailed planning is completed.”

Regardless, the Memorial Walk will involve a significant redesign which will impact on North Terrace and Kintore Avenue. It’s understood the Planning Department is currently working on concepts to be released publicly next month in the lead-up to Anzac Day. It follows last week’s announcement that Rundle Road is to be closed and returned to parklands as part of Labor’s O-Bahn extension.

“It’s a commemorative walk but I think it will also change the streetscape of Kintore Ave and have some urban appeal,” said Hamilton-Smith, adding that the plan would “completely open up that precinct”.

“But that’s incidental to its primary objective – its primary objective is a memorial walk to commemorate the Anniversary of Anzac.”

That will also involve “improvements to the memorial site itself”.

“The whole area needs refurbishment,” he said.

“Parking will be moved from the west side of Kintore Avenue (so) it will have an impact.”

There is no end date for the build, but Hamilton-Smith says it “will be delivered in the first half of the commemorative period” that begins on Anzac Day and continues for the ensuing four years.

The minister hopes to make a “further major announcement at the end of the four year period” but says: “I have to lock down funding for it first and it’s some way off.”

“It will be something a bit more practical and bit more visible … I’m putting a proposal together at the moment,” he said.

Beyond that, South Australia will mark the centenary with less fanfare than, say, last November’s commemoration of the 1914 departure of the first convoy of Anzac ships from Albany in Western Australia.

“Other states are doing different things … they all approached it differently,” said Hamilton-Smith.

“We’d like ours to be more low-key and more local, reflective of sacrifices made in individual towns and local council districts across the state, more than a grand fanfare in the centre of Adelaide.

“I sort of see this as an opportunity to resurrect the local histories; it’s a four-year journey we’re on here that starts on Anzac Day this year … it’s a marathon, not a sprint – just as the war was.”

He said a “distinguishing thing about World War One (was) long periods of inactivity, punctuated by particular offensives where people were killed”, such as the Battle of Lone Pine in August 1915.

“We’re planning a visit to Lone Pine in August with a group from the community,” said Hamilton-Smith.

“Rather than attend Anzac Day in Gallipoli, we thought we’d go at a quieter, more reflective time that has particular purpose for South Australians.”

A group of 22 SA students – who last year completed a research project on the Gallipoli campaign as part of their Year 9 or 10 studies – will attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, and there are “likely to be subsequent visits to Europe by various groups”.

The minister’s office has been given three extra staff to assist planning across the four-year period, while the Anzac Day Commemoration Fund has been increased to $350,000 a year for the next four years – a $1 million total increase.

“There’s a host of other things actually planned,” the minister said.

“There’s no point in having everything completely over, done and dusted, in the first month of the four-year journey; what we’re going to do is roll out a series of events over a four year period.”

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