AFTER more than twenty years, Australia’s longestrunning Commemorative Avenue was officially reconnected in a ceremony held on Sunday. Bruce E Price OAM President Arch of Victory / Avenue of Honour Committee watched on as Senator Michael Ronaldson cut the ribbon to the new multimillion-dollar project with a pair of scissors which had belonged to E Lucas and Co managing director Edward H Price, who had lent them to Prince Edward to open the avenue in 1920. Bruce Price is the grandson of Edward Price. In his address to about 400 people at the ceremony Mr Bruce Price OAM said that between 1917 and 1919 the 3801 trees of the Ballarat Avenue of Honour were planted largely by the 400—500 girls of the textile company, E. Lucas & Co. Pty Ltd.
“The first 17 kms of the Avenue extends from the Arch of Victory to this point and originally formed part of the Western Highway. The final 5kms or 800 trees proceeded through the 1880’s rail crossing on the Ballarat to Ararat line down Avenue Road to the Weatherboard to Learmonth Road,” he said. “In 1993, the By Pass Road of Ballarat was constructed, and despite our best endeavours at Panel Hearings, it proceeded through the Avenue of Honour, whilst the adjacent rail crossing was closed. “In 2009 the first Stakeholder Meeting of the Western Highway duplication from Ballarat
To Stawell was held at Trawalla. Our Committee strongly put the case for the opportunity VicRoads would have to address the damage done to this National Icon in 1993. “In January 2011, VicRoads announced that a dual overpass of the Avenue would be incorporated. Since that date VicRoads have left no stone unturned to complete an outstanding project with constant consultation with our Committee.”
The Hon. Catherine King MP Federal Member for Ballarat said there are many projects as a Federal member that you are asked to get involved in. “But there are just some projects in your community that speak, more so than any other, to your heart; me one of them is this part of the Avenue,” she said. “I am ashamed to say that when Bruce first raised this project with me and asked me to come and have a look at what to me has become the lost part of the Avenue, I did not know it existed.
“How fitting it is today in this Centenary Year of Anzac the lost Avenue is returned home. For every tree on this avenue there is a story and a connection to families, to neighbourhoods to streets, to lives lost and lives changed.” Ms King added that the project to reconnect the Avenue has not come easily. “The $1million we committed to add to the Western Highway project was in fact the easiest bit, it has taken lots of planning, lots of discussion and a few fights along the way. I want to thank the City of Ballarat, VicRoads and the Victorian State Government for not putting this in the too hard basket and getting it done. It is important,” she said, Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Senator Michael Ronaldson said the overpass was now a living memorial of the sacrifices made by Ballarat’s men and women during World War I. “This is a special day for us,” he said.
“Today, we are again honouring the Avenue of Honour. To those from outside the region this might have seemed like just a divided road, but to us it was a road that divided our memory and divided the honour of those who served.
“Now, it is something we can be immensely proud of.”
The overpass has been created to encompass the avenue.
Features include a landscaped field on either side, which has been modelled on the Flanders fields. The retaining walls on each side of the overpass have been painted red and imprinted to look like the surface of oak leaves. The panels in the walls have a list of cities where battles were fought.
The regions servicemen and women who participated in World War I are represented by a leaf design – a red tab commemorates those who lost their lives. A rest area has also been incorporated.