Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Avenue of Honour

Ballarat's Avenue of Honour is located along Ballarat- Burrumbeet Rd, now known as Remembrance Drive.  The Avenue consists of 3,332 trees  which are located on each side of the road and runs for a distance of 22 km.

The Avenue dates back to 1917  when a suggestion was made by Mrs E.W. (Tilly) Thompson, a Director of local clothing manufacturer E. Lucas & Co, to plant trees in honour of the men from the Ballarat region who enlisted in the AIF during the First World War.  This suggestion was enthusiastically taken up by the employees of E. Lucas & Co ( who at the time were known as the Lucas Girls). The girls had shown interest and activity early in the war by sending a Y.M.C.A. worker to the front and supporting him for over 3 years.

Not only did the girls raise the money for the trees but spent many of their weekends planting them. The planting took place between 3 June 1917 - 16 August 1919.  The trees were planted in order of enlistment. Around each tree a wooden guard was placed to protect the tree. Attached to each tree  was  a plate which provided space for the soldier's name and battalion.

In 1934 the original name plates, most of  which were missing or lost, were replaced with permanent bronze name plaques  which reside along The Avenue today.  The Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee also at this time decided that no reference to any title or rank should be recorded on the new plaques, that only an initial and surname be recorded. Where known,  a cross was included on the plaque to indicate that the soldier had been killed in action.

The Avenue remains a lasting memorial to the men of the Ballarat region who volunteered to answer their nations call so long ago.

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