IN the chill of Saturday morning community groups, schools, bands and other participants assembled in the car park of the Buninyong Golf Club for a commemorative march along the newly-restored Buninyong Avenue of Honour. The 1 July commemorative service marked the completion of the three-year restoration of the Buninyong Avenue of Honour, which was originally planted 100 years ago.
In his address Buninyong RSL President, Ray Mende, said that it was a pretty safe bet that there are lots of people in Ballarat and even in Buninyong who, up until recently, did not even realise that this Avenue existed. “In some ways that’s not surprising,” he said.
“ Apart from this stretch of old trees right in the centre of the township, much of the remainder of the 1917 Avenue was over grown, many trees were missing and carried no sign that the trees were planted 100 years ago to commemorate district soldiers who fought and died in World War I.”
In early 2015 a small working party of three was formed: Ray Mende, Bob Bennett AM, Secretary Buninyong RSL and Dr Barry Fitzgerald from the Buninyong Community Association. What followed was a long and intensive period of work which included: sourcing funding; Council approval and assistance; researching records of local servicemen who came from the districts of the old Shire of Buninyong (identify those men killed or who had died during the war, as it had been decided that these would be commemorated by each of the trees in the Avenue; design plinths , plaques and signage; and organise the commemorative march.
“Looking out at the community and other groups who marched, and looking out at the new plinths and plaques, I have great pride and pleasure at what has been achieved over the past three years,” Mr Mende said. “We see this as a further tribute to the men from these local districts that fought and died for king and country in farflung lands some 100 years ago.”
Mr Mende thanked everyone who had been involved over the three years and the final culmination adding, “It would be remiss of me today not to mention the tremendous efforts of Mr Bob Bennett and Mr Barry Fitzgerald. Bob has spent hundreds of hours communicating with everyone involved and organised and led all the working bees, as well a lot of the planning. Barry has been responsible for obtaining all the Grants needed, he also researched most of the names, produced the booklet you all have, organized the flags, the medallions, and the signs and too much more to mention. He also dealt with the massive amount of communication involved over the three years.”