The Merchant Navy Memorial commemorates the contribution made by the Australian merchant navy during both World Wars.
The Australian Merchant Navy Seamen's Memorial at the Australian War Memorial lists the names of 182 merchant seamen who lost their lives in World War I. During World War II, 29 Australian merchant ships and 386 merchant seamen were lost in Australian waters.
The central panel at the rear of the memorial contains the badge of the merchant navy and is flanked on both sides by six panels, representing ships' bows; the curved tops represent the waves of the sea. The pattern on the paving represents the various camouflage patterns used by merchant ships during World War I and the red crosses, the merchant navy-crewed hospital ships. The two concrete and glass drums at the extreme front flanks of the memorial represent navigational compass cards.
The Merchant Navy Memorial was designed by Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Pty Ltd architects and built from funds collected by the Merchant Navy War Memorial Fund Limited. It is located located at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin because of its association with water.