The Sphinx Memorial was created by Private William Thomas Shirley, as a memorial to his fallen comrades in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.). Hewn from the surrounding bush sandstone, the Sphinx is approximately 1/8th the size of the Great Sphinx located on Egypt's Giza Plateau.
Shirley sailed to war in January 1916 and served with the 13th Battalion A.I.F., who were known as the 'Two Blues', due to the Battalion's two tone blue colour patch.
Upon returning to NSW, he was a patient at the Lady Davidson Convalescent Hospital for returned Australian First World War veterans. Like many of his comrades at the hospital, he suffered from the effects of gas used in the fierce battles on the Western Front, with the added complications of a tuberculosis infection.
Commencing around 1924, an ailing Shirley laboured for almost two years creating his personal memorial. He died on 27 August 1929, leaving this unique legacy, to be contemplated by the many bushwalkers who enjoy the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
The memorial is accessible from Memorial Road or the Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head loop walking track. Also on site is the HMAS Adelaide Mast Memorial.
Read more about Private William Thomas Shirley on the NSW War Memorials Register.
To my glorious comrades
of the A.I.F by the late
No 5756 Pte. 13th Battalion
Died 27th August 1929
This memorial, following restoration, was rededicated on the 9th November 1995, in recognition of the selflessness and sacrifices of the members of the A.I.F.
Lest we forget.
This sphinx and the pyramids and entirely the work of the late Ex-No. 5756 Pte. W. T. Shirley, 13th Battalion, in memory of fallen comrades of the AIF.
A few points about this work of an Ex-Digger, also of the original sphinx in Egypt, which should prove interesting to visitors.
This Sphinx: It was while ex-Pte Shirley was an inmate of Lady Davidson Home in 1925–26 that he accomplished this work of cutting from solid rock a replica of the original Sphinx, working on a scale of about 1/8th. The time taken was about 1 1/2 years. It should be remembered that ex-Pte Shirley was severely gassed during the war, which caused his ill-health and eventual death. This no doubt makes his work all the more wonderful.
The upper part of the Sphinx has been painted to prevent erosion, and it may also be stated that the wishing well, pathway and other improvements and maintenance, have all been carried out by ex-members of the AIF.
The original Sphinx - Egypt: The correct title is "The Great Sphinx of Gizeh." It is 65ft high, 177ft in length, its face is 14ft wide and from chin to top of head is 20ft, with the hips 7ft in length. It faces due east and is a huge outcrop of rock, shaped into an immense lion couchant, with a man's head and its paws stretched out before it. The lower part is usually covered with sand, but the sand has been removed at different periods. During the war period when many Australian troops were camped in Egypt and visited the Sphinx, the paws and base were covered with sand.
From the knowledge derived from the translation of a tablet found near one of the smaller pyramids it is certain that the Sphinx existed during the reign of Cheops, the 2nd King of the 4th Dynasty and it is one of the monuments restored by him. This takes us back to about 4700BC. [It] is impossible to assign any time to the erection of [the] same, but it must date back to the dawn of the civilisation we called Egyptian, or the civilisation even preceding that.
The features of the Sphinx are damaged considerably. From records, the worst damage was done by an arab fanatic in the year 1379AD and by French troops in Egypt under Napoleon, also be modern visitors chipping pieces for relics.
The ruins of a building near the Sphinx are called the "Temple of the Sphinx." Whether it was a Tomb or a Temple is not known, but it was built in the form of a cross, differing from other Temples of Tombs. It contained neither ornaments not letters of any kind. There can be little doubt that this Temple or Tomb can claim a similar age to that of the Great Sphinx.
Kindly protect this memorial to fallen soldiers