Australian Embassy



The Australian Embassy will be presenting a special photographic exhibition at the St Elias El Touwak Monastery in Zahle from 26-28 September. The exhibition commemorates the contribution made by Australian troops in paving the way for Lebanese independence in 1943.

The retrospective features photographs taken by Frank Hurley and Damien Parer, two of Australia’s finest war photographers. As well as capturing the stunning beauty of Lebanon at the time of its independence, the photographs cover the advance of Australian troops north from Palestine, and their eventual successful entry into Beirut on 12 July 1941.

Australian forces, along with British Commonwealth units, remained garrisoned in Beirut for several months after the Vichy surrender, establishing a stronghold for the remainder of World War Two. The exhibition also features photographs of Australian forces at work, rest and play in Lebanon throughout 1941 and 1942.

While garrisoned in Lebanon, the Australian Army’s first-ever ski unit was raised and trained in the Cedars above Bcharre. The exhibition will include a number of photographs of this historic episode, as Australian soldiers adapted from desert fighting to skiing and snow-based battle. The collection has recently been expanded to include photographs of iconic Beka’a Valley sites, including at Rayak and Baalbek.

“Australia is proud of the role it played in assisting the countries of the Middle East to reject totalitarianism and oppression during both World Wars,” Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Lex Bartlem, said. “We have held this exhibition previously in Beirut and Tripoli, and we are now pleased to present our expanded collection of photographs to the people of Zahle and the Beka’a. I know they will enjoy looking back on an important piece of history, and on the beauty of Lebanon as it once was.”