Another layer of history for Bairnsdale Cenotaph – East Gippsland


A new time capsule was placed in the Bairnsdale Cenotaph on Monday, December 7, adding another layer of history to the refurbished landmark.

Historical records indicated that a time capsule had been placed in the cenotaph at the time of its construction almost 100 years ago. It was the original intent of East Gippsland Shire Council and the Bairnsdale RSL Sub-branch to remove the casket from a cavity behind the foundation stone, however on investigation it was found the casket was below the foundation stone and fully encased in concrete. Discussions between Council, the RSL and heritage experts determined not to extract the casket at the risk of damage to the foundation stone and casket.

Mayor Cr Mendy Urie said that while the original time capsule was unable to be removed, it presented an opportunity for Council and the RSL to mark a moment in time – 2020 – with a new time capsule.

“Recent times for East Gippsland have been challenging, with more than four years of drought followed by the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires, and the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to take this opportunity to commemorate and acknowledge our community’s resilience as well as paying tribute to our servicemen and women,” Cr Urie said.

The new time capsule has been placed in the space created when the attempt to remove the original time capsule was made.

The casket contains printed and electronic versions of the following documents and items to mark a point in time for the East Gippsland community:

  • East Gippsland Shire Council 2016-2020 End of Term Report
  • East Gippsland Shire Council Bushfire Community Newsletter – 50th Edition
  • East Gippsland Shire Council Mayoral Year 2019-2020
  • 2019/20 fire season Emergency Management Victoria commemorative pin
  • Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation service pin

In addition, the following documents and items were included to reflect and pay tribute the original time capsule’s contents:

  • Cuttings from Bairnsdale Advertiser (18 November 2020 edition containing Remembrance Day articles)
  • Current Australian coins
  • List of fallen Bairnsdale soldiers lost in conflicts since World War I
  • A Bairnsdale RSL Sub-branch Centenary Badge

The new copper casket was constructed by local sculptors, Kate Shone and Daniel Jenkins. Working with a conservator, it was advised to print the documents on thin plastic A5 sheets to ensure their longevity and to fit with the space restrictions of the casket. On Wednesday 2 December, Council and the RSL placed the items into the casket and the casket was sealed.

In the presence of the RSL and Council staff, Cr Urie placed the casket into the cenotaph on Monday, December 7.

Restoration works contractor Cathedral Stone will reinstate the plinth stones to cover both time capsules enabling the restoration works to continue.

“The restoration works ensure that the legacy of past and future servicemen and women continues and allows our community to pay their respects. May we continue to remember the resilience and courage of our servicemen and women, and the resilience of our own community,” Cr Urie said.

The project is jointly funded by Council and the Federal Government, who have contributed $137,000 under the Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.

Major works are on track to be completed by the end of December with the overall project to be completed by January 2021.


Local sculptor, Kate Shone, creating the copper casket for the time capsule.


Mark Burnett (East Gippsland Shire Council Works Manager), Allan Pappin (Bairnsdale RSL President), Mayor Cr Mendy Urie and Ray Rock (Bairnsdale RSL Vice President) with the time capsule contents.


East Gippsland Shire Council’s Works Manager, Mark Burnett, placing the contents in the casket.


Mark Burnett sealing the capsule while Allan Pappin looks on.


Mayor Cr Mendy Urie placing the time capsule in the cenotaph on Monday, December 7.


Rick O’Haire (RSL), Tim Bull MP, Allan Pappin (RSL) Mayor Cr Mendy Urie, Mark Burnett (Council) and Ray Rock (RSL).

/Public Release. View in full here.