Soldiers' Memorial Avenues

The Soldiers' Memorial Avenue on Hobart's Domain runs along the lower part of this 1960 photo, below the TCA Ground (AOT, PH30/1/1244)

Soldiers' Memorial Avenues are most commonly associated with the First World War, and were planted in honour of men and women who had enlisted or served as munitions workers. Planting began in Ballarat in 1916 and spread to Tasmania in 1917. Trees were mostly planted for those who enlisted, but Tasmania's largest Avenue, the Soldiers' Memorial Avenue in Hobart, contains over 500 trees planted for men of Hobart and New Town who died in the conflict. There are over forty other Avenues around Tasmania, ranging from eight trees at Randalls Bay to 52 at Nubeena. One was planted for South African (Boer) War enlistees (Huonville), and three (Glen Dhu, Oatlands and Snug) for Second World War servicemen and women.

The impetus often came from community committees and sometimes councils and the Returned and Servies League. Trees varied from macrocarpa to cedar and horse chestnut. Most were planted along major roads at the entrance to towns. Nameplates were attached on or near trees with the name and unit for enlisted persons, and the date and sometimes cause of death for the deceased.

The Avenues were an important element in commemoration for many decades, a focal point for familial grief and mates' remembrance. They declined as veterans and those who knew the fallen died, and following generations often lost track of the trees. The loss of nameplates, by vandalism, decay and sometimes family removal, broke the link between individual soldier and tree, and avenues became anonymous trees of little apparent value. Recent attempts to revive Avenues have aroused interest and support.

Further reading:

Adrian Howard