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Suburban and Country Memorials

Home > Melbourne > ANZAC Day | Free | Remembrance Day
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published September 2nd 2012
A trip down memorial lane
Mt Macedon Cross

Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are the days set aside to remember the fallen. But look around your suburb and you will find there are many daily reminders that make you pause and reflect on those who died for our country.

[ADVERT]More than 19,000 Victorians died in World War 1. Most were young men and all were volunteers. Every family was either related to, or closely associated with, someone who died.
And because there were seldom graves besides which families could mourn grief was translated into public memorials.

Take a closer look at the Ringwood clock tower or band rotunda in Fitzroy or Port Melbourne; all are memorials to those lost at war.

Historic clock tower

The location of the Port Melbourne rotunda on the foreshore is particularly poignant. Princes Pier is the point at which troops embarked for war and from where family and friends threw streamers as a point of last contact.

One of our most significant tourist attractions–the Great Ocean Rd–is testament to the spirit of the Anzacs. Returned soldiers carved the road from sheer cliff faces as a permanent memorial to their mates who died.

Great Ocean Road a memorial to diggers

Building the Great Ocean Road

If you have driven to Mount Macedon, you will know the huge cross on the mountain top that dominates the landscape.

About 250,000 people visit each year. Recently, a woman told me how she lost her husband to cancer and scattered his ashes before the cross at sunrise. "It is the most spiritual place I know", she said.

Her loss echoes that of one-time local businessman William Cameron, who lost his son in World War 1. He established the massive 21m cross at the Eastern Lookout as a tribute to his son and other Australian who died in the war.

The cross was hit by lightning in 1975 and damaged in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. In May 1995 it was replaced by the present cross which is of the same dimensions. The towering cross makes a powerful statement with the clouds rolling above it.

On the Western Highway outside Ballarat you whiz past a 22km avenue of 3,332 trees. Each represents a local serviceman or nurse who served in WW1. The idea for the Avenue of Honour is attributed to Mrs Tilly Thompson of local clothing manufacture E. Lucas & Co.

Arch of Victory Ballarat

Building the arch

The female employees, dubbed the Lucas Girls, raised the money required. Some has lost sweet hearts or family members during the war.

They did everything from making and selling dolls to donating their own wages.They even arranged a women's football game, where they took on the Khaki girls, servicewomen from Melbourne. The game raised 500 pounds which was an astonishing sum back then.

They even spent their weekends planting all the trees between June 3 and August 16, 1917. So next time get out of the car and stretch your legs and walk past some of the trees and the name plaques. It is a moving experience to read them and to think of the love and tears that went into each planting.

The Lucas girls also raised the funds for the Arch of Victory at the beginning of the avenue. They were immensely proud when it was opened by the Prince of Wales on June 2, 1920.

The avenue set a precedent for other country towns. At least 128 avenues of honour were planted in towns such as Berwick, Narre Warren North, Cranbourne, Seymour, Lara and Woodend.

Tree planted for William G.Lawrie in the Avenue of Honour, Ballarat.

The Avenue of Honour in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria
The Avenue of Honour in Bacchus Marsh,

In the All Nations Park in Northcote there is a commanding 3.5m high stainless steel soldier with a bronze slouch hat by Melbourne artist Andersen Hunt. Etched are the words: "Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten."

For an extensive list of memorials click here.

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Why? To remember
Where: All over Victoria
Cost: Free
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