The Australian War Memorial has launched the Battle of Hamel virtual reality experience to deliver a synchronised in-theatre experience for the first time worldwide.
During the 10-minute interactive experience, which uses the latest in VR technology, audiences of up to 45 people will wear VR headsets and headphones that will give them an up-close view of the battlefield at Le Hamel.
It is the first time anywhere in the world that the newly-released Oculus Go VR headset has been used to create a synchronised interactive VR experience on this scale.
From 22 June to 22 July, the French countryside of the First World War will be brought to virtual life in the memorial’s theatre.
Audiences will be immersed in the story of this key action fought on 4 July 1918 on the Western Front and will hear how Lieutenant General Sir John Monash meticulously planned the battle, before they choose to continue from the perspective of an airman, infantryman or tank crewman.
Aircraft, tanks and the battlefield will be presented in a combination of 3D and 360-degree video.
Memorial director Dr Brendan Nelson said it was important to showcase new technologies as avenues to tell the stories of the likes of Sir John Monash, and other famous Australians.
"On 4 July 1918 the Australian Corps, led by General Sir John Monash, was victorious at the Battle of Hamel. Leading Australian soldiers alongside Americans for the first time in history, Monash meticulously planned out the battle to last 90 minutes – it took 93," Dr Nelson said.
"This immersive technology gives people today a unique insight into the events at Hamel almost 100 years ago. I encourage everyone with an interest to book your free ticket the Hamel VR experience and learn a bit more about what men like Monash did for us.
"Importantly, the Hamel VR experience uses the memorial’s own artefacts to present the story of the battle and its human dimensions, avoiding any semblance of entertainment."
Managing director of Start VR Angus Stevens said the Battle of Hamel VR experience brings a piece of Australian history to life like never before.
"By merging the memorial’s archival material with a VR rendering of the battle, people can see, hear and feel history in a way never before encountered," Stevens said.
"To create a world-first, leveraging VR technology that’s barely a few months old is in itself fantastic, but to know that this experience will unlock a key moment in Australia’s history that many people are unaware of, makes it all the more exciting."