Proposal to plant the seeds of war history

BACK THEN: The avenue of honour trees along Park St, later Park Rd, is eveident in this 1941 aerial photograph.WHAT’S old is new again in Deputy Mayor Bob Kirk’s quest to green up and beautify the city.
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While numerous trees have been removed in recent time, he’s resurrecting an old notion to supplement Council’s current planting efforts.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting his notice of motion to establish an Avenue of Honour Working Party won unanimous support.

Its task will be to investigate options and make recommendations to Council on an “effective recognition program,” namely avenues of trees, that honour Goulburn residents who served in all theatres of war.

The avenues could either be on road reserves or any other prominent council land that the working party thought appropriate.

“I just think this is something the whole community could embrace but it requires input from the RSL, the Street Tree Working Party and a lot of other people…It gives a real community purpose,” Cr Kirk said.

The idea was a happy combination of circumstances.

Following her presentation on the St Clair Working party to Council back in March, Council’s museums officer, Dr Claire Baddeley had asked Cr Kirk whether he was aware of an ‘avenue of honour’ in or around Goulburn. It had followed an enquiry from a member of the public.

At that same meeting, the Street Tree Working Party had also presented its findings. It recommended in part that Council focus planting on arterial roads in and out of Goulburn.

The next piece in the puzzle was a request for Council to contribute to the Australia Remembers website, documenting 1541 World War One and 3221 World War Two journals dedicated to service personnel born in Goulburn.

For Cr Kirk, they were “obvious connections.”

Further research by Dr Baddeley revealed that Goulburn did indeed have avenues of trees dedicated to servicemen. In 1919, following a push by Eastgrove residents, an avenue of remembrance featuring 80 trees on Park St was opened by the then Mayor. They were planted by East Goulburn school students.

“The Mayor, in declaring the avenue open, spoke of the great work that had been done by the heroes who had fought for all of us,” the Goulburn Evening Penny Post reported on September 9, 1919.

There’s no evidence of the avenue today. Cr Kirk believes the trees were removed when Park Rd was widened in about the 1980s.

More research on the Treenet website showed another listing – at Shaws Creek, Gundary.

“In a very helpful and encouraging conversation with Glenn Williams (principal of Treenet), it was confirmed that this memorial planting was established on September 15, 1918 in the school grounds at Shaws Creek and consisted of 16 trees,” Cr Kirk’s report stated.

But he can find no remaining evidence of the avenue.

Keen to be greenCr Kirk said the whole idea of the project was not to duplicate work already done, especially that of Mulwaree High School in establishing its memorial avenue.

With some seven arterial roads on the city’s edge, excluding the highway, the Deputy Mayor believes there are plenty of opportunities. The tributes could also include dedicated groves in parks and other open spaces.

“It is estimated that some 7000 Goulburn service personnel have served our country and community in all theatres of war,” Cr Kirk said.

Members of the Goulburn RSL Sub Branch Mark Collins and Keith Weston have contributed their thoughts. The new working party would determine eligibility for individual service personnel’s inclusion and the extent of plantings.

“What the working party will do is their decision but councillors can also throw in their two bob’s worth,” Cr Kirk told the meeting.

“I think this will greatly enhance the entrances to the city and it complements the work the Street Tree Working Party has been doing.

“It’s all about adding value to Goulburn. We are doing so much other work to enhance the attractiveness of the place and it doesn’t cost a lot.”

Moreover, it would provide an “appropriate and lasting memorial to this important aspect of our community’s proud history.”

The 2016/17 budget allocates $40,000 for street trees but the avenues would be additional. Cr Kirk said funding could come from external funding or carry over from beautification works.

The working party comprises himself, David Mullen, Fred Rainger, Wal Smart, Goulburn RSL Sub Branch member and Squadron Leader (ret’d) Mark Collins, Keith Weston, Dr Claire Baddeley and Council’s parks and gardens manager Rob Hughes. A report will be submitted to Council by December 1.

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