ADF Chaplains honoured

Published by Peter Collins on


DESIGNED and erected by Brisbane City Council, this serene civic space is the first memorial to honour the gallantry, sacrifice, dedication to duty and commitment of our military Chaplains to the spiritual and material wellbeing of Australian Defence Force personnel — alongside of whom they have humbly served in time of war and in peacekeeping operations, since 1901.

Located on a slight ridge in the eastern quarter of Toowong’s historic Anzac Park (entry off Wool Street, just up from The World War I Nurses Memorial Grove), The National Defence Chaplains’ Memorial Grove overlooks Canon Garland Overpass, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha and a section of the Western Freeway Bikeway.

After Council decided to accede to a citizens-lead ePetition lodged in February 2020 (see below), civic business units including architects and arborists liaised with the proponent, the ADF Directors-General – Chaplaincy, and Walter Taylor Ward representatives (Councillors Penny Wolff and James Mackay) to formulate a design that took full advantage of an existing semi-circle of six hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) that flanked the site chosen.

In 2022, to complete a ring effect, Council arborists successfully planted two more mature pines.

Two years later Council landscaping staff juxtaposed — east and west — heavy blocks of Brisbane sandstone (tuff) to form two seats. Four garden beds of bottlebrush (Callistemons), native rosemary (Westringia) and grasses were then arrayed around a concrete disk centrepiece inscribed with the words, “The National Defence Chaplains’ Memorial Grove. Dedicated to Australian Defence Force Chaplains who have humbly served this nation in times of war and peace. LEST WE FORGET.” Seen from above, the effect invokes a sense of the Maltese Cross motif of ADF Chaplaincy regimental insignia.

The unfinished site was informally inspected by his Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC CGMM (Retd.), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Mrs. Linda Hurley, on 4 April 2024, and the Memorial Grove was completed in time for ANZAC Day 2024 (25 April).

ABOVE: Proponent, Peter Collins (at left), chats with his Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC CGMM (Retd.) and Mrs. Linda Hurley at the yet-to-be finished Memorial Grove on 4 April 2024. Fellow Stone of Remembrance Centenary Committee member, CMDR Darryl Neild OAM CGMM (RAN, Retd.) joined the Vice-Regal visitors for their brief informal inspection. The disk-shaped centrepiece was yet to be inscribed by Brisbane City Council staff. Photo courtesy of Peter Collins.


The Memorial Grove honours Australian Defence Force Chaplains whose dedication and selfless commitment in serving Australia’s service personnel and their families during times of peace and conflict is commemorated.

Chaplains have served at sea and ashore with the Royal Australian Navy since 1912. During the First World War, 414 Army Chaplains served in the Australian Imperial Force and chaplains volunteered to join the Royal Australian Air Force from 1926.

Since inception, the role of the Chaplain has been integral to Defence capability and the wellbeing of its people. Chaplains continue to faithfully serve in the Australian Defence Force, domestically and on international operations, providing religious ministry, spiritual guidance and pastoral care to service personnel and their families.

 This Memorial Grove is dedicated to Defence Chaplains in gratitude for their humble service.


In February 2020, lead proponent, Peter Collins CGMM, Convenor of Canon Garland Memorial. and the Stone of Remembrance Centenary Committee, submitted an e-Petition to Brisbane City Council, setting out the case for the Grove.

He wrote:

We, the undersigned residents, ratepayers, business proprietors and other interested persons, respectfully call on Brisbane City Council to consider the merits of setting aside a suitable portion Toowong’s Anzac Park for the provision, planting, cultivation, ongoing nurture and preservation of a grove of saplings in a clearly delineated space, to hereafter officially be named, Brisbane’s Anzac Park — reputed since its creation in 1916 to be the world’s first “Anzac Park” — presents an ideal, enviable and noble location for the establishment of a National Memorial to honour the unheralded contribution of volunteer military chaplains within the Australian Defence Force, in times of war and peace.

The devotion to duty, gallantry and sacrifice of these redoubtable men and women has never before been permanently and prominently acknowledged in the civic landscape of any Australian city.

Typifying the resourcefulness and impact of this long-overlooked cohort is Brisbane’s Reverend Canon David John Garland OBE, the “Architect of ANZAC Day,” Padre Garland gave some four decades of his life to the pastoral, social and practical care of soldiers on and off the battlefield.

A place of reflection, light and peace commends itself as a living expression of the debt of gratitude owed these men and women — of many faith traditions — whose personal, unflinching steadfastness in the heat of battle, and its dreadful aftermath, inspired and comforted so many.

This grove might well: –

  1. Be planted in a space that overlooks Canon Garland Overpass;
  2. Be planted with wattles (for instance, Queensland’s Mount Morgan Wattle, Acacia podalyriifolia) to flower around April, and therefore ANZAC Day;
  3. Overlook the graves of the hundreds of former First and Second AIF personnel located in Toowong Cemetery;
  4. Be an Australian-first and world-unique; with unrivalled scope for plantings to honour the memory and service of current, former and future Padres associated with the ADF;
  5. Be a link to, and in the safe keeping of, Padres associated with Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera.
  6. Complete historical linkages to Gallipoli Barracks, dating back to before World War I, when this now serene part of Toowong hosted a military rifle range. The community’s grief over the death in battle of so many soldiers who had local connections, in turn inspired the creation of Anzac Park.

The e-Petition was presented to Council’s 11 August 2020 meeting by Councillor Mackay, and then forwarded to Council’s City Planning and Sustainability division for investigation.

On 2 December 2020, Council wrote back:

“…given the strong connection with WWI and remembrance of Australian and Queensland war efforts at Anzac Park, Council agrees to establish The National Defence Chaplains’ Memorial Grove and will begin preliminary work on a design that will complement the original Avenues [of Honour] as well as these more recent plantings. Council looks forward to working with you to investigate a suitable location within Anzac Park and to select appropriate tree species to establish the Grove…”

On 16 May 2024, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner in a letter to Peter, wrote:

“…I am certain that this memorial will provide an area for quiet reflection, not only for Defence Force personnel on ceremonial days, but for all park users over the years to come…”

ABOVE: The National Defence Chaplains’ Memorial Grove in Toowong’s Anzac Park is the first of its kind anywhere in Australia to honour the service, gallantry and sacrifice of ADF Chaplains. This photo, courtesy of Peter Collins, was captured in mid-April 2024.