Sunday History Photo / Vic

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 05:18
ThreadID: 77979 Views:3939 Replies:4 FollowUps:1
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The Ballarat Avenue of Honour is significant as the earliest known memorial avenue to have been planted in Victoria, and appears to have stimulated similar plantings throughout Victoria in the years 1917 to 1921. They predominate in Victoria with the greatest concentration in the Central Highlands around Ballarat. These avenues represent a new approach in the commemoration of soldiers where service rank was not a consideration. The Ballarat Avenue is the longest avenue of honour in Australia.
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The idea for the Ballarat Avenue of Honour in 1917 was attributed to Mrs W.D. (Tilly) Thompson, a director of a local clothing manufacturer, E. Lucas & Co. Between June 1917 and August 1919, a tree was planted for each soldier who enlisted as a resident of the urban area of Ballarat. The trees were planted in order of the soldiers enlistment, and stretched some 22km along the Western Highway, consisting of 3,771 trees.
To this day, the Avenue continues to present a vast and memorable gateway to Ballarat, and a grand living monument to those who volunteered for active service.
In 1934 the original Avenue name plates fixed to the tree guards (most of which were lost or missing) were replaced with the permanent bronze name plaques in the Avenue today. Manufactured by the local Ballarat firm of Mann Bros., the plaques were hand cast in gunmetal and bolted to mild steel straps set in concrete footings at the base of each tree.
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The previous Avenue name plates fixed to the tree guards between 1917 and 1919 originally recorded each soldier's name (including full Christian name), unit and rank. However, in 1934 the Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee decided that no reference to any title or rank should be included on the new plaques, and that full Christian names would be replaced with an initial. Consequently, each bronze plaque records a soldier's name (surname with up to three initials), tree number and battalion. When known, many of the plaques also included a cross below a soldier's name to indicate that they were killed in action.
The Arch of Victory was unveiled 2nd June 1920
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The result of a great deal of work by the girls employed by E Lucas and Co., who raised the money required to build the Arch.
The foundation stone was laid on the 7th February 1920 by General Sir William Birdwood and the Arch was opened on the 2nd of June 1920 by the Prince of Wales. The Arch is made of bricks, cement rendered. On sunday 13th March 1938, Mr S Walker, President of the Ballarat RSSIA unveiled the Temple of Remembrance which is situated at the entrance of the Avenue of Honour. The temple houses a Book of Remembrance which contains a number of steel sheets upon which have been inscribed the names of every person in whose honour a tree has been planted in the Avenue. On the 7th of November 1954, Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead unveiled two tablets to acknowledge the services of the men and women from Ballarat in the 1939 - 1945 war.
1919 marked the final planting (eighth section) of the Avenue of Honour on August 16th. The completed Avenue comprised 3,771 trees (23 species), extended over a distance of approx. 14 miles and cost a little over £2,000. A returned soldier was employed to maintain the Avenue.
In 1921 Two captured German Gun war trophies placed at the Arch of Victory unveiled on Anzac Day.
1950 Official Anzac Day dawn service shifted from the Arch of Victory to the newly erected Cenotaph on Sturt Street. Short wreath laying ceremonies were still held at the Arch during subsequent years.
1954 Two granite plaques added to the Arch to commemorate the services of members of the Army, Navy and Air Force during World War 2 unveiled on Remembrance Day.
1965 CRB announced proposed scheme to widen Avenue to allow for construction of a four lane divided highway, including realignment of the roadway around the Arch. Regular replacement of dead/missing trees discontinued because a major replanting scheme was considered necessary.
1987 Memorial plaques on the Arch dedicated to Malaya, Korea, Borneo and Vietnam Veterans unveiled on October 25th. 400 trees replanted in the Avenue in a joint project between the Committee, Eureka Apex Club, and the Shire and City Councils.
1988 Avenue of Honour classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) on the Register of Significant Trees. First stage of the Ballarat Bypass begun by the RCA.
1990 Total of 102 existing Avenue trees removed by VicRoads during the widening of three intersections along the Western Highway - Haddon Road & Windermere Road intersection, Heinz Lane intersection, and Crown and Sceptre Road & Finches Road intersection - with replacement trees planted approx. 9m back from the edge of the roadway. Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee formed a policy on Western Highway Bypass, supporting moves which reduce traffic volumes and improve road safety on this section of the Highway but objecting to the way in which the Bypass breaks the Avenue into two separate parts at the Avenue Road intersection.
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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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Reply By: Member - Patrick (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 07:48

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 07:48
Well done Doug on another great story.

I look forward to reading each contribution you make on Sundays.


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Follow Up By: Member - David C2 (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 09:12

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 09:12
Thanks Doug, and well done. A great reminder of the sacrifices made by so many on our behalf and so very relevant today on this special day. I would recommend that anyone travelling along the Western Highway take the time to stop and have a look themselves. I was raised in Ballarat and many of our trips north normally started with a meeting at the Arch. Thanks again Dave
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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 09:58

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 09:58
The first time I drove through the Avenue I was just a young sailor (MOBI) in the RAN and Vietnam was just being evacuated. I was very moved by the Avenue memorial, and have never forgotten it.

Thanks Doug, great story as always.
Fred B
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Reply By: BuggerBoggedAgain - Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 17:00

Sunday, Apr 25, 2010 at 17:00
I am not doubting your info. but whilst travelling down the Federal Hwy they have erected all the Australian VC soldiers,airman in little rest points,where they have a photo enclosed with a brief history of the person.

I know it goes for a good length of road,not to sure of klms,it could be more than 22,don't know, never measured it.

Anyway,great piece of history for today,thank you.

Ex gunner, 11Bty 2/3Fld Regt.
AnswerID: 414228

Reply By: Member - jay D (VIC) - Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 08:32

Monday, Apr 26, 2010 at 08:32
Hi Doug

Another good story and close to home as well.
I'm heading back to Alice Springs on Tuesday to do the A.S Cup. Bringing up a road train. Might have to catch up with Hairy and have one of his cucumber sandwiches!
Hope all is well up there, might call in for cuppa Wednesday week.


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