The date was June 9, 1918, and young Greek-Australian newspaper boy Hector Vasyli was part of the crowds welcoming sick and injured soldiers back from the Great War.
Vasyli and his family lived nearby at the Queensland Oyster Palace, and the boy was well-known for spending his wages on flowers, sweets, and other gifts for returning troops—a fact that made his death, crushed when a car in the parade swerved to avoid an accident and hit him—all the more tragic.
Vasyli suffered a fractured skull and died later in the hospital, provoking an outpouring of public grief and fundraising for a memorial. Noted local sculptor Daphne Mayo created the facial medallion of Vasyli for the memorial plaque, which was unveiled soon after on the South Bank end of the Victoria Bridge.
A series of illustrated information boards nearby briefly explains the history of the bridge and the Brisbane River, noting that the original bridge was constructed in 1864 of wood, then replaced several times over the oncoming decades. When the latest bridge was built around 1970, the southern arch that features Vasyli’s memorial was under threat, but the local people had such regard for the memory of the boy that this piece of the original bridge was saved, and though Mayo’s original medallion was lost, a replacement was created using old photographs.
Sticking out one side, the arch now stands in noticeable tribute to Vasyli, and since the late 1980s, the Greek community has placed a wreath under the plaque each year on Anzac Day. The Victoria Bridge Abutment was heritage listed in 1992, and a specific access bridge built in 2015.
Know Before You Go
The arch and memorial plaque are located at the southern end of Victoria Bridge in South Brisbane. The abutment also offers great views over the city.