Barry Vicary – founding member of the NSAA
Welcome to the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia Inc. The catalyst for the beginnings of what is now known as the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia, came about when an ex Nasho Barry Vicary, along with two of his mates, sitting at a park bench on the range, in Toowoomba Qld, decided to form an organization.
Barry’s idea was to fight for the benefits those men who didn’t serve in Vietnam had been denied any of what was given to those who served in Vietnam. Of the 60 thousand plus that were conscripted around 15 thousand of those served overseas. The main objective of the organization is to provide welfare to its members. The organization has grown from that small start in Qld, to now having branches in every State and Territory.
In 2009 the brand new National Servicemen’s Memorial was built at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, The memorial is set in a wonderful garden
National Service Memorial and Courtyard
The formal courtyard and fountain are dedicated to all Australian National Servicemen (over 290,000 in total) and in memory of those who died. National servicemen were conscripted between 1951 and 1972, including some who served in the Vietnam War.
This memorial represents the wishes of veterans themselves. The idea of a memorial fountain originated with the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia. The Association worked closely with the Australian War Memorial (AWM), raising funds, consulting stakeholders and providing advice on the design. Significantly, Johnson Pilton Walker’s (JPW) design was approved by National Service associations throughout Australia. Few changes to the original design were requested, an indication that early consultation and a clear brief enabled the designers to create an appropriate response.
The National Service Memorial and Courtyard is tucked immediately east of the main war memorial building, transforming an area formerly used for bus parking and circulation. The formal courtyard consists of a symmetrical cruciform arrangement of paving, seating and grass areas leading to a low memorial fountain.
The courtyard seeks to function as an intimate space for quiet, individual reflection as well as a ceremonial space for commemorative events – for example, the dedication ceremony, attended by over 3,000 people. To achieve this flexibility, the space has a double enclosure: the whole courtyard area is bounded by box hedges on three sides at human height and an inner row of low hedges and seating surrounds the fountain at its centre. These proportions and repeated geometries mediate between the imposing backdrop of the existing memorial building, the adjacent open space of the new cafe, the gravel forecourt on the other side, and the relatively modest size of the fountain itself. The formal geometry is consistent with the architecture surrounding it, successfully linking the new memorial to its context. Three asymmetrically sited trees (Eucalyptus pauciflora) give relief to this formality and tie the courtyard to its broader landscape setting of nearby eucalyptus lawns and the backdrop of Mount Ainslie. Materials were selected to be in sympathy with the context too, with bronze, sandstone, granite and pencil pines all referencing existing architecture and memorials on site.
The centerpiece fountain uses an uncluttered geometry of triangle, circle and square, so iconic it has been used as the image for a commemorative fifty cent coin. The high quality and attention to detail evident here befit the site and setting (especially since its integrated design merges object and space). From a distance, the fountain sits quietly at the centre of the courtyard: low, heavy, solid, human scale. As one approaches, the sound of the water intensifies, spilling over from a bronze vessel into the polished granite base on which it appears to float. Water wells up invisibly from within and overflows, a slow, constant source pushing to the surface and emptying away in a forceful gravitational cascade. The water flow has been visually and acoustically perfected: a bronze bead was a prototype and refined to achieve a stream of water at the exact desired angle, the volume of water and a hidden echo chamber of granite designed to create the right acoustic environment. Computerized operation allows for the adjustment of water levels as needed. On a practical level, the fountain uses recycled water and has been designed to remain attractive even if water restrictions make it necessary to have no water flow at all.