Was John Monash Australia’s Greatest Ever Engineer?

Author Stephen Noble, Managing Director, Australia Wide Personnel

I went to Monash University, I drive on the Monash Freeway and go through the City of Monash almost daily. Yet I had no idea who John Monash was, beyond a vague concept that he was a general. 

I’ve just finished a book called “Monash: The Soldier Who Shaped Australia” by Grantlee Kieza, which I thoroughly recommend, primarily because of the revelation of what John Monash achieved.   

He was a civil engineer, lawyer (don’t hold that against him)  and an army reservist who worked on many of Victoria’s bridge, road and rail projects in the 1880’s to 1910’s. He built skills in organising projects and in WWI applied his engineering methods to the battlefield. He rose to become Commander of the Australian Corps and developed battle tactics which were applied broadly by the allied forces across the western front and it was felt those tactics shortened WWI by at least a year.

After taking on the massive task of repatriating Australia’s troops back home he was asked to develop the Yallourn Power Station to feed electricity to Melbourne. He investigated the best power plant technology from around the world and then built the power station and the transmission lines from the LaTrobe Valley to Melbourne.    

He was also one of the principal organisers of the observance of ANZAC Day, oversaw the planning of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance and was asked to restore order during a Victorian Police strike.  

In my view, he’d have to rate as not only Australia’s most accomplished engineers but also as one of the most accomplished Australians of all time. An estimated 300,000 mourners lined the route to the cemetery where he was buried in 1931.  If you think there has been an Australian engineer who has achieved more, I’d be interested to hear about them.