Small white stone with yellow ribbon attached. Used in the 1st Anniversary Memorial Service to commemorate the 2009 Victorian bushfires. This service was held on Sunday 7th February 2011 at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. The service was organised by the Victorian Council of Churches which was a member of the Bereaved & Memorial Committee, established by the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA). Commemorative services were also held in local towns across Victoria.

The service was multi-faith, and focused on remembrance, reflection and the communities affected by the fires. Prior to the service people across Victoria were asked to observe a minute's silence at noon to remember the 173 people who died. Flags were flown at half mast from dawn until midday. The Prime Minister declared the day a National Day of Mourning. Victorians were also encouraged to wear a yellow ribbon in honour of bushfire victims in the lead-up to this first anniversary.

Those attending the service were invited to participate in a number of symbolic rituals. 109 candles were lit to represent the communities across Victoria impacted by the bushfires. People attending were invited to write messages on small river stones and place them at the base of the candles to commemorate those who lost their lives in the bushfires. People could choose to take their stone with them after the service; those stones remaining after the service were collected by St Paul's Cathedral.

The stones were prepared by staff of the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Commission (VBRRA). Approximately 300 were created for the commemorative service. Almost everyone attending the service wrote a message on a stone, with only about 40 stones remaining. After the service tourists also indicated an interest in writing on the stones.

Physical Description

Small river stone with a black elastic band onto which is sewn a yellow ribbon.


The 2009 Victorian Bushfires resulted in the loss of 173 people across Victoria - the largest loss of life of any natural disaster in Australia's recorded history. The 1st Anniversary Memorial Service commemorating the 2009 Victorian Bushfires encouraged people to actively participate in symbolic rituals during the service - to light a candle, leave a message, write on a stone. These items give form to the grief and the many ways in which symbols and rituals were used to publicly commemorate the 173 people who died as a result of the bushfires.

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