Sarah Cockerell – Treenet
This paper is an overview of a preliminary investigation into all tree avenues planted as War memorials throughout Australia. It cannot claim to be a complete record and in some ways serves only to highlight the gaps in our knowledge. Much of the data was obtained through the personal testimony from local sources and very little published or officially recorded information. All data in the survey is subject to amendment upon the discovery of further information sources. Each avenue is summarised in the appendixes. More detailed accounts of the avenues including historical background, management details and lists of the soldiers honoured with a tree are available for some.
Avenues of trees have been planted by many countries for a variety of reasons but nowhere else has embraced the concept of a living War Memorial in the form of an Avenue of Honour like Australia. Over a hundred avenues were planted during and after the First World War to commemorate those who served. In rare cases these were implemented by government but most often they were created by the local people. Small Australian towns sometimes lost significant numbers of young men to the First and Second World Wars and stone monuments, while still occurring frequently, were often too expensive or didn’t capture the feelings of the community. The planting of avenues was intensely personal and produced massive community involvement and passion. They were always supposed to last for decades and be attractive living monuments to the sacrifices of war. That was then.
In the last 80 years Australia has changed dramatically. Towns have grown, moved and some have disappeared. Modern roadways and streetscapes are completely different from what they were like when the first avenues were planted. Some avenues have weathered these changes but many have not. The problem has been as time passed the avenues were forgotten and no complete record of the avenues has ever been made. So we are left with the question of where are all the avenues, what has happened to them and how can we restore Australia’s memory?
It was clear that before death and change claims the avenues and their history it needs to be recorded and shared. Thus the idea of conducting a National Survey of Avenues of Honour was born.
Tracking down the Avenues
Locating Australia’s Avenues of Honour has become a collaborative effort between TREENET, local government and many private citizens. Information about the larger and better known avenues is easily accessed on the internet since many small towns still value their trees and regard the avenues as valuable tourist attractions. Although there have been some other surveys on similar topics and historical research into memorials the available published data did not come close to recording all of the Avenues planted. The National War memorial was contacted but while they have an impressive collection of papers they do not have a complete record of all memorial avenues. I spent a couple of days on site in Canberra and found that while a thorough search of their collection, especially newspaper cuttings and funding requests, would provide a lot of information it would take weeks if not months to extract. In most cases local knowledge was needed to confirm the presence of an avenue and any records of the avenues history were usually only kept in local libraries or private collections. Contact was made with most local councils in Australia and any relevant local history groups. The national, state and where relevant the local RSL sub branches were also contacted. This national request for information received a good response with interest and encouragement for the project sometimes coming more frequently than any useful information. Thanks to word of mouth the network of people contacting TREENET about Avenues of Honour has extended beyond my initial contacts.
Some previous related surveys do exist. A National Survey of War Memorials70 was conducted in 1920 and 21. This did not provide a comprehensive record of Avenues of Honour but it does give some guide to the numbers of avenues planted in the various states. A thorough survey of Victorian avenues was conducted in 1987 by Janine Haddow70. Various other historians have investigated war memorials and several publications list some of Australia’s avenues. Not all of the data from these surveys and publications have been available in the compilation of this paper.
Australian Capital Territory
No Avenues found although other memorial plantings beyond the scope of this paper exist.
New South Wales
The National Survey of War Memorials found 14 avenues had been planted in New South Wales. I have information on 15 avenues although I can only confirm 2 as dating before 1921. 5 were planted later in the 1920’s and 2 others have been planted in the last 10 years. 5 avenues are yet to be dated. Most of the avenues relate to World War 1. 2 include both World Wars (one of these was originally planted for WW1 and later extended) and the most recent plantings commemorate all conflicts Australia has been involved in. 9 avenues are known to be complete and most are in good condition (including the two oldest). 2 avenues are now incomplete and in poor condition. No avenues can be confirmed as having been lost.
See Appendix 1 for detailed summary.
No Avenues found although other memorial plantings beyond the scope of this paper exist
This survey records 25 avenues in Queensland with two planted before 1921, in agreement with the National Survey, and 3 planted in the last 10 years. Only one avenue can be confirmed as lost and 10 are complete. 5 avenues for WW1 and 8 for WW2 have been found. Half of the complete avenues are known to be in good condition. Queensland also has one of the best maintained and researched avenues at Roma.
See Appendix 2 for detailed summary.
The National Survey listed 1 memorial avenue in South Australia. This survey has found 2 avenues from before 1921 and a total of 16 for the state. 7 of these are complete and in good health. Only 3 can be confirmed as commemorating WW1 and 2 for WW2. No avenues can be confirmed as having been lost.
See Appendix 3 for detailed summary.
Only 6 avenues have been identified in Tasmania. 4 of these are known to be complete and should be in good condition. Most relate to WW1. The National Survey found 12 Tasmanian avenues.
See Appendix 4 for detailed summary.
Victoria has the largest number of avenues in Australia with 109 named in this survey. The Haddow survey70 identified 142 for WW1 and 2 with only 56 WW1 avenues still remaining. The National Survey found 92 Victorian avenues by 1921. This survey has located 36 avenues dated from prior to 1921 with 21 present in reasonable condition. 2 avenues have been planted in the last 10 years and several Victorian avenues have been restored. 9 avenues are confirmed as having been lost although in two cases (Dartmoor, Lakes Entrance) the trees were removed and then modified into statues. In total 55 avenues are still recognisable and most are in good condition. 58 avenues have been confirmed as relating to WW1 with only 7 for WW2. Victoria has the two largest avenues with the Ballarat Avenue currently comprising of 3332 trees and the Calder Woodburn Memorial Highway at Shepparton comprising of 2411 trees.
See Appendix 5 for detailed summary.
The National Survey found only 2 avenues in 1921. This survey found 1 avenue planted prior to 1921 and 3 others planted that year. In 1996 Oline Richards61 found 8 avenues planted for WW1 and only 1 for WW2. Of the 14 avenues this survey has identified 4 as relating to WW1 (1 extended for WW2) and another 4 for WW2. However 3 of the WW2 avenues are yet to be dated and may have been planted after 1996. Only 1 avenue has been planted in the last 10 years. 5 avenues are complete with 3 known to be in good condition. Western Australia has one of the largest avenues at Kings Park with around 1100 trees.
See Appendix 6 for detailed summary.
184 avenues have been identified although there is frequently little more information associated with the record than just a name. Some of the avenues are well maintained and details of their history is easily found. 77 avenues have been identified as complete and only 10 can be confirmed as lost. However it is probable that many of the avenues where little or no detail has yet been found have been lost.
The more traditional introduced tree species such as Oaks, Elms and Cypress were commonly used in avenues but others use native species, usually Eucalypts. The success of an avenue can depend on species selection but there is as yet no evidence that avenues using introduced species are more likely to fail than those using native species.
Further investigations of the collections at the National War Memorial should be considered. The network of local government, RSL clubs, local history groups and interested members of the public need to expand and continue to share information and encourage public involvement.
So far the response has been excellent but patchy. In some areas it has been difficult to obtain good local contacts and these need further investigation to fill in the gaps in this survey. Ideally all the avenues named should be visited, assessed and investigation made into the avenues history at the site.
Avenues planted in the 1920’s and earlier have been under considerable pressure over the last 80 years. Town expansion and the associated infrastructure of modern living have often conflicted with the needs of trees. As time passes the avenue trees can be lost for the sake of convenience without regard to their original value. This is especially common when the initial species choice or management was less than ideal resulting in untidy and unhealthy trees.
The avenues were planted as living memorials to our heroes. They were supposed to last for decades. Even under ideal conditions such avenues require maintenance and the occasional replacement of unhealthy trees. Where local community groups and councils have performed these tasks the avenues have grown into the elegant monuments originally intended. These can essentially last indefinitely with young trees gradually introduced to replace the old, maintaining the effect of a mature tree avenue. In many ways the greatest threat to Avenues of Honour is to be forgotten.
As the older generation of a region dies the oral history is often lost. In the last 50 years people have been more likely to move around the county for work and reasons of lifestyle. Families are not tied to regions as much as they once were and the younger generation does not often grow up where the local history of a region is closely tied to the family history. Many early avenues are fading from living memory and may be forgotten in a few years time. Avenue trees can only act as living memorials while they are known and appreciated by the community. The loss of tree plaques and signage is a major concern as without such displays the trees can lose their significance in the public’s eye. A complete survey and assessment of Avenues of Honour is well overdue and in some cases it may be too late.
Despite these problems the available information is encouraging. Although it is difficult to make predictions about the numbers of avenues remaining due to the large gaps in the data at least 92 avenues exist in a recognisable if not pristine form. Only 10 avenues can be confirmed as lost but it is likely that some of the other avenues mentioned in this paper have been removed and others are not mentioned as they have disappeared from the landscape and memory. Of the avenues that do still exist around half are known to be in good condition and several have been planted or restored over the last 10 years. There is still significant community attachment to the avenues and some have associated protection and historical groups.
The lack of centralised record keeping for the early avenues has resulted in the loss of historical information about them and the failure of future generations to appreciate the significance of the trees. The pressures of population growth and the increasing demand for more urban infrastructure has led to the demise of many avenues and threatens several others. Despite this there are a large number of old avenues in good condition to serve as an example for the replacement and restoration of others.
This preliminary survey is far from complete. From previous surveys it is clear that more avenues were planted than have been identified and no detailed national survey has ever been attempted before. The gaps in the data only demonstrate how much research is yet to be done. Other avenues, both present and lost, must be found and a detailed examination of all known avenue trees undertaken.
This survey has attracted a positive response from large areas of the community and has started to draw attention to the state of Australia’s Avenues of Honour. It is now up to everyone interested in preserving Australia’s urban forest and heritage to keep interest, and the avenues, alive.
|2||Adelaide Parklands Preservation Association|
|3||ANZAC Day Organisation|
|4||Ararat Community College|
|5||Australian Forest History Society Inc|
|6||Australian Heritage Places Inventory|
|7||Avoca and District Historical Society|
|8||Bacchus Marsh RSL|
|9||Ballarat Accommodation and Tourism Directory|
|10||Ballarat Genealogy Organisation|
|11||Bayside City Council|
|13||Between the Leaves. The DPI Forestry and Department of Natural Resources Journal. 10/6/1996 (www.forests.qld.gov.au )|
|14||Boroondara Shire Council|
|15||Borough of Queenscliffe|
|16||Burnside City Council|
|17||City of Casey|
|18||City of Monash|
|20||Darebin City Council|
|21||Defending Victoria (Victorian War History website www.users.netconnect.com.au/~ianmac/ )|
|22||Department of Veterans Affairs|
|23||Digger History (War history website www.diggerhistory.info/ )|
|24||Dimboola Memorial Secondary College|
|25||East Gippsland Shire Council|
|26||Emerald Primary school|
|28||Friends of the Avenue, Kingston|
|29||Hastings-Western Port Historical Society|
|30||Hepburn Shire Council|
|32||HMAS Club of South Australia|
|33||Launceston City Council|
|34||Macedon Ranges Shire Council|
|35||Mackay Historical Society|
|36||Maroondah City Council|
|37||Milton Ulladulla Historical Society|
|38||Milton Ulladulla War History (www.ulladulla.info/history/war/trees.html )|
|39||Moira Shire Council|
|40||Mornington Peninsula Shire Council|
|41||Mount Alexander Shire Council|
|42||Moyne Shire Council|
|43||National Trust of Australia|
|44||National Trust of Queensland|
|45||Nillumbik Shire Council|
|46||Northern Grampians Shire Council|
|47||Orange City Council|
|48||Pittsworth Shire Council|
|49||Port Adelaide Enfield Council|
|50||Press Release by David Hawker, Minster for Wannon 26/6/2003|
|51||Press Release by Minister for Veterans Affairs|
|53||Roma City Council|
|54||Roma Tourism Association Inc|
|55||Rowville Lysterfield History Project|
|56||SA Urban Forest|
|57||Shirley and Trevor McIvor. Salute the Brave: A pictorial record of Queensland War Memorials. RSL Queensland Branch|
|58||Shoalhaven City Council|
|59||Somerville, Tyabb and District Heritage Society|
|61||Oline Richards, The Avenues in Peace: Honour avenues of the Great War in Western Australia. In M. Bourke and C. Morris (eds) Studies in Australian Garden History. The garden History Society|
|62||The Peoples Voice (Australian Community History Online www.peoplesvoice.gov.au )|
|63||War Memorials in Australia (www.skp.com.au/memorials )|
|64||Warringah City Council|
|65||West Torrens City Council|
|66||West Wimmera Mail|
|67||Whittlesea City Council|
|68||Wyndham City Council|
|69||Personal accounts from private individuals|
|70||Dargavel, J. 1999. Trees age and memories change in the Avenues of Honour and Remembrance. In J. Dargavel and B. Libbis (eds). Australia’s ever-changing forests IV, Proceedings of the fourth national conference on Australian forest history. Canberra: Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, The Australian National University.|
Appendix 1: New South Wales
|36||33||WW1 & 2||6|
||complete||good||Citrus sp.||WW1 & 2||63|
||1922||complete||76||WW1||37, 38, 58|
||25/4/1923||scattered||very poor||Cedrus deodara,
||1922||complete||good||Lophostemon confertus||WW1||64, 69|
Appendix 2: Queensland Avenues
|Beerburrum||Anzac Av||63, 57|
|Cecil Plains||Taylor St||15/08/1995||complete||10?||WW2||63|
|Chinchilla||Slessor St||25/04/1991||complete||Jacaranda mimosaefolia||WW1||1, 57|
Cinnamomum camphora, Jacaranda mimosaefolia,
|20||17||WW1||27, 52, 57|
|Gin Gin||May St||WW2||63|
|Kawana||Coopers Lookout||63, 57|
|Monto||Memorial Ave||WW2, Vietnam||63|
|Pittsworth (1)||Short St||2000||complete||good||n/a||WW2 &
|Pittsworth (2)||Yandilla St||complete||good||Eucalyptus sp.||WW1||48|
|Pittsworth (3)||Bridgeman Oval||complete||Schinus areira||48|
|Pleystowe||Eungella Rd||25/4/1948||complete||good||yes||Ficus benjamina||9||9||WW2||35, 57, 23, 44|
|Roma||Station St, Wyndham St,
|20/9/1918||complete||excellent||Brachychiton rupestre||102||93||WW1||53, 13, 54, 63, 57|
|11/9/1949||WW1 & 2||63, 57|
Appendix 3: South Australia
|Adelaide (1)||Anzac Hwy||complete||good||Fraxinus oxycarpa||WW1||65|
|Adelaide (2)||Sir Donald Bradman Dr||complete||good||yes||Platanus sp.,
|Park 19||1919||partial||poor||Ulmus procera||WW1||2|
|Burnside||Alexandra Ave, Prescott Ave||1919||complete||good||Ulmus procera||240||WW1||63, 2, 16|
|Kapunda||Main Rd||complete||good||Koelreuteria paniculata||WW2||69|
|Normanville||Lady Bay||Araucaria heterophylla||56|
|Regency Park||off Regency Rd||25/4/1992||partial||Corymbia maculata||49|
|Salisbury||next to Primitive Methodist
|Stone Hut||Borthwick St||complete||good||9||9||WW1 & 2||63|
|Tea Tree Gully||St Agnes Shopping Centre||22|
|Victor Harbour||Franklin Parade||69, 22|
Appendix 4: Tasmania
|Brighton||Midland Hwy||1940||complete||good||Cupressus arizonica,
|Bushy Park||Macquarie Plains Rd||WW1||63|
|Hobart (1)||Queens Domain Cenotaph||complete||Populus sp.||all||63|
|Hobart (2)||Queens Domain Park||complete||partial||WW1||63, 22|
|Launceston||Windmill Park, High St||26/5/1962||complete||good||22||WW1 and 2||63, 33|
|Port Arthur||Port Arthur Penitentiary||WW1||22, 4|
Appendix 5: Victoria
|Albury||Road past Airport||Platanus sp.||Vietnam||9|
|Apsley||Wallace St||1902||complete||good||Quercus sp.||Boer War||63|
|Bacchas Marsh||Main Rd||10/8/1918||complete||average||yes||Ulmus x hollandica, Ulmus glabra||281||281||WW1||63, 43, 8|
|Ballarat (1)||Western Hwy||1917-19||complete||3912||3332||WW1||60, 61, 43, 9|
|Ballarat (2)||Ballarat East Ave||1917||WW1||9|
|Ballarat (4)||Hill St||14|
|Ballarat (5)||Black Hill|
|Ballarat (6)||Eureka Stockade Ave|
|Ballarat (7)||Ballarat North, Beaufort Cres||49|
|Balnarring||Balnarring Rd||1918||complete||average||Pinus radiata||33||WW1||40|
|Beaconsfield||High St||1919||complete||excellent||Populus x Canadensis robusta,
|Berwick (1)||Church St||1919||complete||good||Quercus palustris, Quercus robur||9||7||WW1||17, 12|
|Berwick (2)||Wilson St, Scanlan St||9/1918||complete||good||Quercus palustris, Quercus robur||35||24||WW1||17, 12|
|Booropki||North West of Goroke||28/8/1918||complete?||yes||Eucalyptus sp.
|Clayton||Carinish Rd||complete||average||Quercus lusitanica||WW1||18|
|Cranbourne||South Gippsland Hwy||1919||complete||good||Quercus robur, Quercus lusitanica||59||172||WW1||17, 63, 9|
|Digby||11/8/1917||complete||Ulmus sp.||97||WW1||63, 10, 22|
|Drik Drik||Drik Drik-Nelson Rd||Ficus marcophylla||17||WW1||43|
|Drouin||partial||Eucalyptus ficifolia||200||74||WW2||69, 43|
|Eltham||Main Rd||1918-19||lost||n/a||Platanus x acerifolia||100+||0||WW1||45|
|Euroa||Old Hume Hwy||complete||average||WW1 & 2, Boer||63|
|Guildford||Midland Hwy||complete||good||Fraxinus sp., Platanus sp., Quercus palustris (r)||41|
|Harcourt||High St||partial||Cedrus sp||41|
|Harkaway||Harkaway Rd||1919||complete||good||Eucalyptus ficifolia, Quercus sp. (r)||29||WW1||17, 63|
|Hawthorn||Wood St||1921||partial||good||Eucalyptus botryoides||30||2||WW1||14|
|Horsham (1)||McPherson St, McBride St||scattered||poor||WW1||63|
|Kingston||Kingston Rd||1918||complete||good||yes||Ulmus x hollandica, Ulmus procera, Ulmus glabra, Populus nigra (r), Fraxinus sp. (r)||286||286||WW1||63, 6, 30, 28|
|Lakes Entrance||Marine Parade||1924||lost/sculpt||n/a||yes||Callitris cupressiformis||0||WW1||63, 25|
|Leongatha||North East town exit||22/5/1918||WW1||63, 9|
|Lysterfield||Lysterfield Rd||13/9/1919||complete||good||Quercus robur, Grevillia robusta||14||14||WW1||63, 55|
|MacLeod||Simpson Ave, Stevens Rd,
|ARA Sig Corps||19|
|Malvern||next to Oval then Kingston St||partial||Brachychiton sp.||185||WW1|
|Maroondah||Kitchiner Ave||complete||average||Planatus orientalis||WW1||36|
|Mont Park||Cherry St||1919||partial||poor||Eucalyptus cladocalyx||46||WW1||20, 6|
|Moonee Ponds||Cupressus sp.||9|
|Mortlake||Hamilton Hwy||1926||complete||average||Cupressus macrocarpa||196||WW1||43, 42|
|Mount Waverley||High St||partial||poor||Quercus lusitanica||28||13||WW1||18|
|Mount Macedon||Mt Macedon Rd||10/8/1918||complete||poor||Quercus palustris||WW1||34|
|Moyston||Ararat-Halls Gap Rd||complete||good||Pinus radiata||27||WW1||43|
|Narre Warren||Memorial Drive, Main St||9/1919||complete||good||Quercus robur||60||WW1||17, 63|
|Nathalia||1918-22||complete||good||Brachychiton populneum||53||WW1||43, 9|
|Newstead||Pyrenees Hwy||complete||good||Ulmus hollandica||70||WW1||43, 41|
|Notting Hill||Blackburn Rd||lost||n/a||Platanus sp.||0||WW1||18|
|Oakleigh||Drummond St||complete||WW1||63, 18|
|Orbost||B Rd Jarrahmond||complete||Quercus sp.||WW2||25, 9|
|Pyramid Hill||Eucalyptus cladocalyx||9|
|Queenscliffe||Flinders St||partial||good||Cupresses macrocarpa||WW1||15|
|Shepparton||Goulburn Valley Hwy||1945||complete||good||Eucalyptus sp.||2457||2411||WW2||6, 43, 31|
|1917||scattered||Platanus sp.||6||WW1||59, 29|
|Tambo Upper||1920s||complete||good||yes||Eucalyptus ficifolia||6||6||WW1||62, 22|
|Thomastown (1)||High St||lost||n/a||21||0||WW1||67|
|Thomastown (2)||Hight St Reserve||25/6/2003||complete||good||21||21||WW1||67|
|Tooradin||South Gippsland Hwy||1918||complete||average||Eucalyptus ficifolia||18||60||WW1 +||17|
|Tourello||Tourello Rd||1918||complete||good||Juglans regia||36||36||WW1||43|
|Traralgon||Kay St||partial||average||Ulmus procera, Ulmus x hollandica||30||WW1||69, 43, 9|
|Tyabb||Frankston Hasting Rd||lost||n/a||Pinus sp.||0||59|
|Tylden||Trentham/Daylesford Rd||complete||very poor||Ulmus sp.||34|
|Wallan Wallan||Northern Hwy||1920s||complete||average||Ulmus x hollandica ‘Purpurascens’||48||WW1||43|
|Wandin North||Warburton Hwy||Eucalyptus ficifolia||30||WW2||43|
|Whittlesea (2)||Church St, Walnut St||1990s||complete||good||Platanus x acerifolia, Grevillia robusta||67|
|Woodend (1)||Calder Hwy||14/9/1918||complete||good||Quercus robur, Quercus canariensis||224||224||WW1||34, 43, 21|
|Woodend (2)||Tylden Rd||WW2, Korean, Vietnam||34|
|Werribee||Ballan Rd, Bolton Rd||partial||very poor||Eucalyptus cladocalyx||68|
|Wunghnu||Taylor St||1930s||partial||very poor||Eucalyptus cladocalyx||WW1||39|
|Yarrawonga||Gilmore St||1991||complete||excellent||Eucalyptus citriodora||39|
Appendix 6: Western Australia
|Albany||Middleton Rd moved to Apex Dr||1921, 1995||complete||Eucalyptus ficifolia||178||all||63, 61|
|Roleystone||Araluen Botanic Park||complete||good||Cupressus sempervirens||89||61|
|Armadale||Soldiers Memorial Park||1921||complete||good||Liquidamber styraciflua, Fraxinus griffithii||WW1||61|
|Collie||Soldiers Park||4/1921||scattered||Cinnamomum camphora||99||WW1|
|Kings park||May Dr, Lovekin Dr||1919-1993||complete||good||yes||Quercus robur, Platanus orientalis, Eucalyptus cladocalyx, Eucalyptus boitryoides, Eucalyptus callophylla||800||1100||WW1 & 2||63, 61|
|Mingenew||Mingenew Sports Ground||1973||WW1 & 2||63|
|Mosman Park||Memorial Park, Palmerston St||25/8/1934||Araucaria heterophylla||WW1||61|
|Point Walter||Honour Ave||25?||WW1 & 2||63, 61|
|Rockingham||Memorial Dr||Callistemon sp.||WW2||63|
|Woodvale||Yellagonga Regional Park, Castlegate Rd||6/1995||complete||WW2||63|
Appendix 7: Abbreviations
TP: Number of trees originally planted
TR: Number of trees now remaining
SN: List of Soldiers’ names related to individual trees
n/a: not applicable