18 January 2003

A bushfire in Canberra, Australia kills four people and destroys more than 500 homes.

On Saturday 18 January 2003, the bushfires which had been burning in the hills to the west and south-west of Canberra for more than a week reached the perimeter of the city. In addition to the 4 lives lost and almost 500 homes destroyed, countless pets and other animals were killed, and there was widespread damage to rural properties, parks, forests, gardens and urban infrastructure.

Canberra is known as the bush capital of Australia, and this devastating natural disaster made the news internationally.The ACT Bushfire Memorial acknowledges the impact of the fires, marks the process of recovery, and thanks the many organisations and individuals who played crucial roles in the fire fighting and recovery efforts.

The entrance walls are constructed with the community’s salvaged and inscribed bricks which contain messages of grief and gratitude. Beyond the walls, a site framed by a grove of casuarinas contains red glass and metal forms that refer to the force of the firestorm and the lightning strikes that sparked the main fires.An avenue leads to an amphitheatre enclosing a pond and bubbling spring. The glass columns bordering the pond contain details from photos provided by the community which speak of memory and human resilience.The memorial is located in Stromlo Forest Park.