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Robert Burns Memorial
Robert Burns Memorial

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

The sculpture commemorates Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) and is identical to the one erected at his birthplace in Scotland.

Lawson’s sculpture of Burns cost around £1000, and it is said that nearly every Scot in Melbourne contributed. The memorial symbolises the contribution Scottish migrants made to the early development of Victoria, with many of the first graziers and squatters in Gippsland and the Western District being of Scottish descent.  

The statue was originally located on the west side of St Kilda Road, where Sir John Madden, the lieutenant governor, unveiled it on 23 January 1904. It was moved to its current site in 1970, due to changes along St Kilda Road.

Commemorative functions to honour the Scottish National Poet and world recognised bard, and to study his poems, songs, writings and philosophy have been held continuously in Victoria since the arrival of the first permanent Scots in 1836.

Born in 1759 in the tiny village of Alloway, near Ayr, Robert Burns is one of the most celebrated figures in Scottish history. His work is of great literary importance and he is notable for his influence on the poetry and culture of Scotland. The son of a peasant farmer, Burns grew up in abject poverty. Yet recognising the value of education, his father contracted local teacher John Murdoch to tutor his son.

From an early age it was apparent that Burns was a gifted scholar. His first published book, Poems, Chiefly in Scottish Dialect (1786), immediately captured the hearts of the Scottish public, and was considered one of the greatest collections of poetry ever written. Burns became prolific, publishing many poems – among them his famous ‘Auld Lang Syne’. He died in extreme poverty of rheumatic fever in 1796 at the age of 37.

Melbourne, January 24. Fully 5,000 persons attended the unveiling of a Burns statue, on St. Kilda road, yesterday afternoon. The ceremony was performed by the Lieut.-Governor (Sir John Madden). A guard of honour from the Scottish Regiment, with the regimental band, was also in attendance. Sir John Madden prefaced a brief address with an expression of regret for the death of Sir John McIntyre, who was known to be an ardent admirer of the great Scottish poet. The Lieut-Governor concluded by expressing a hope that the day might come when such a man as Robert Burns might arise in Australia — a man who would be as proud of his country as was Burns, and whose country would be as proud of him.
West Australian (Perth, WA), 25 January 1904.


Address:Spring Street, Treasury Gardens, East Melbourne, 3002
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.814347
Long: 144.974686
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Designer:George Anderson Lawson
Monument Manufacturer:Caledonian Society


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 23rd January, 1904
Front Inscription


Erected under the auspices of the Caledonian Society Melbourne


Source: MA,VMR
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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