The story of the Acrux sculpture

Located in the forecourt of the Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Parkville is a sculpture by well-known and respected sculptor Lenton Parr.

Named ‘Acrux’, after the brightest and lowest of the five stars that make up the Southern Cross, the sculpture is dedicated in memory of Ernest Wharton Braithwaite.

“Acrux” sculpture

Braithwaite was a dedicated pharmacist who took pride in his profession and its many responsibilities. After graduating high school, he was apprenticed to his older brother Harry at his pharmacy in Camberwell Junction.

Following graduation from the then College of Pharmacy, Braithwaite managed a pharmacy in Hawthorn, eventually purchasing it. Working with Harry and other collaborators, Braithwaite purchased and operated six pharmacies in Melbourne.

World War II saw Braithwaite join the Australian Army and was posted to Tobruk in the Middle East as a Senior Pharmacist. During this time, his skill saw him promoted in the field and awarded a ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’.

Ernoest Wharton Braithwaite

On returning to Australia he was first posted to Darwin and then as Senior Pharmacist of the Army, to Victoria Barracks (Army Headquarters) in St Kilda Road with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

At the end of the war and on his release from the Army, Braithwaite returned to his pharmacy in Glenferrie Hill where, for 30 years, he continued to service the local community.

In 1946, Braithwaite left the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria to join the Board of Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL). He was elected as Chairman of the Board, a role he held for a record 21 years, and over this time frequently lectured at the Pharmacy College.

Braithwaite was not only a leader in his professional life but also an active participant and leader covering a wide range of interests outside the profession: a keen lawn bowler, winning club and state titles and acting as President; an active founding member of the local Rotary Club, again serving as President. Master of the Wesley College Masonic Lodge; and, in later years a loyal follower and sponsor of the Hawthorn Football Club. He was also an active member of the Lauriston Girls School Parents Association and a sponsor to the Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club.

Braithwaite passed away peacefully in 1981 and ‘Acrux’ is a fitting tribute to a good and useful life, and an example to all those passing by to – aim for the stars.