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Bacchus Marsh
Avenue of Honour

About the historic Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour

This Avenue provides a magnificant entrance at the eastern end of Bacchus Marsh township and stands as a 2.8km honour-guard for locals who served in the First World War.

At the sound of a bugle call on the 10 August 1918, 281 Dutch Elm trees were planted by the families and friends of those who served. The Avenue was planted to give thanks to those who sacrificed so much and, to this day, continues to honour and remember those who fought so bravely.

Australian War Memorial: Last Post Ceremony

At the end of each day, commencing at approximately 4.55pm AEST/AEDT, the Australian War Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony.
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In Memoriam

A list of those who died during their service, whose anniversary is within a week of today's date.

Today is 11 April 2021

SHORT, John Stanley
Killed in Action, 5 April 1918

OLIVER, Robert
Died of Wounds, 7 April 1918

BOOTH, Thomas Hart
Died of Wounds, 11 April 1917

News

Resting Poppy: a place of peace

The Bacchus Marsh RSL’s desire to display the name plates, along with the names of soldiers that were not recognised by a tree planting, gave rise to an Armistice Centenary Project in 2018 that would honour all 462 First World Was soldiers from the area. The recent completion of the publication of “Honour to whom Honour is Due” has publicly highlighted a need and enabled the creation of a ‘all-inclusive’ memorial in Bacchus Marsh.

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Anzac Centenary March

Marking 100 years since our involvement in World War I, the Anzac Centenary was a time to honour the service and sacrifice of our original ANZACs, and the generations of Australian servicemen and women who have defended our values and freedoms, in wars, conflicts and peace operations throughout a Century of Service. 


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Planting the Avenue

The first public meeting to establish the Avenue was held at the Bacchus Marsh Shire Hall on Monday the 24th of June 1918, with all residents of the Shire requested to attend. “...to decide on what steps shall be taken to plant trees on the main roads in honor of district soldiers. Many other places already have the work well, in hand. If advantage is to be taken of the present planting season no time will have to be lost.”

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Forging a new era of remembrance

Media Release | 25 April 2019

One of Australia’s most cherished and admired WWI memorials, the 2.9km long Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour, is set to become the backdrop to a striking and monumental contemporary public artwork believed to be the largest of its kind in the world — marking its entrance, welcoming visitors into the reserve dedicated to Honorary Captain Rupert Theo Vance Moon VC and inviting them to contemplate the sacrifice made by — and honour due to — 464 service personnel in our then young nation’s largest conflict. The site will become known as their final resting place.

With the support of Moorabool Shire mayor, Cr Paul Tatchell, the Bacchus Marsh RSL is today both humbled and excited to present the winning submission for the Centenary of Armistice Memorial Project Stage 1 and thus begin an inspiring journey to create a fitting legacy for all those from Bacchus Marsh who served, or fell in the Great War.

Local designers, Mark Gilliland and Meghan McBain of Wide Open Co. and Melbourne based war veteran and international public art consultant, Mark Norton of Artica International will work with the RSL and internationally acclaimed Australian sculptor, Dean Bowen, to develop the winning concept. This will be a collaboration of passion, as each party has a strong connection to the project. Whether through fate or providence, during the course of the development of the submissions, it was discovered that the winning artist, Dean Bowen had family ties to the area and was the great-grandson of Private Archie Davis, whose name is recorded on tree N79 in the Avenue of Honour.

Resting Poppy will be a world class public art installation set alongside the Avenue of Honour; a vividly-coloured, multi-part bronze sculpture, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in commemorative sculptures to date. The monument will be interwoven with 464 name plaques, signifying the journeys undertaken by the servicemen and women whom they remember.

Upon the discovery of an apple crate — a common enough vessel in a place known for its orchards — filled with previous editions of the nameplates from the Avenue of Honour elms, a cry of distress became a challenge to honour those that had been lost; to commemorate all of those who fought and died in WWI, to enable current and future generations to fully appreciate their sacrifices and the impact it had on their families, community and nation.

In response, the Centenary of Armistice Memorial Project was established by Cherrison Lawton, president of the Bacchus Marsh RSL, and the sub-committee; a grant for Stage 1 was funded by the Commonwealth Government Centenary of Armistice Grant 2018, and the competition was publicly announced at the Remembrance Day service in 2018.

In the spirit of the planting of the Avenue just over one hundred years ago, this project will call for community support and generosity to provide auxiliary expertise, trades and materials. Once completed in late 2020, this all-inclusive commemorative sculpture and community legacy, will be as poignant as it is unique and striking, attracting greater visitor numbers to Bacchus Marsh and leaving a lasting impression on all. Resting Poppy will come to be seen as a world-renowned example of contemporary art linking generations past, present and future.

The significance of the WWI commemorative sculpture cannot be over-stated; the Bacchus Marsh RSL has worked tirelessly to bring this project to life and should be commended for their efforts. “Resting Poppy” bridges the gap between the past and contemporary design, whilst maintaining its commemorative genre. When the project is completed it will add a unique and significant contribution to the Avenue of Honour; Lest we forget.


- Cr Paul Tatchell, Mayor, Moorabool Shire

When we were first approached by the RSL — about the discovery of these missing plaques and the desire to see them used in a new WWI commemorative installation — we immediately saw the potential for something truly great. Something that would ensure remembrance and reflection for many generations to come. To simply be given the opportunity to build a team and present our vision was an honour in itself, to be awarded the winning submission and to now play a part in bringing it to life is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.


- Mark Gilliland, Director, Wide Open Co

I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded this significant public sculpture commission by the Bacchus Marsh RSL and to be commemorating the service of the soldiers of the Bacchus Marsh area. This project is a deeply personal one for me and my family. Recently while standing in front of tree N79 in the Avenue of Honour, Bacchus Marsh I felt extremely moved and honoured knowing that this tree was planted in 1918 to honour my great grandfather Archie Davis, a farmer from the Bacchus Marsh area who served as a private with the Australian Army’s 7th Battalion in France and the UK during the First World War. The tree was planted by my grandfather Archie Davis (Junior) who I knew when I was a young child. The sculpture will convey the theme of remembrance and enhance and compliment the trees in the Avenue of Honour.


- Dean Bowen, Artist

Centenary March

The Moorabool News | April 19, 2018

ANZAC Day is always April 25, but the Sunday before in Bacchus Marsh is when the RSL hold their parade.

Leaving the Bacchus Marsh hospital cark park in Grant street at 2pm on Sunday 22 April, the Centenary March will proceed to the Village Green in Main street next to the RSL Memorial Hall.

Bruce Lawton (BM RSL Sec/Tres) said the afternoon would also include a free concert.

“After the commemorative service there will be an afternoon tea with a small concert to enjoy.

“An ANZAC Centenary Tribute ‘We Will Remember Them’, will be performed by the Sunbury Choral Association,” Mr Lawton said.

A Dawn Service will be held on the morning of Wednesday 25 April at 5.45am at the Village Green, near the cenotaph in Main street Bacchus Marsh.

“A Gunfire breakfast will be provided by the local SES for those up early to enjoy,” Mr Lawton said.

“A small dedication service will follow where a WWI Red Ensign Flag will be presented to the people of Bacchus Marsh by the Rotary Club.”

Ballan RSL will hold their Anzac Day march at 1pm on Wednesday.

A dawn service will commence at 5am at the Anzac Tree in McLean Reserve, followed by a breakfast at the Ballan CFA.

By Helen Tatchell

Read article on The Moorabool News

An Avenue is Born

In early September 1914 a meeting was held to farewell the first group of local soldiers going to the Front.

... Charles Waterhouse, Charles Edwards, William Morton, Samuel Minnett, Colin Todd, William MacKenzie, Maurice Whelan, Thomas Oliver, Alex. Murdoch, Richard Barry, Charles Lyle, Alfred Farrow, Arthur Hine, Reginald Evans, Thos. O'Leary, Webbe Crook, Frank Crook, George Moore, John Campbell, Wm. Clark, ...

- The Bacchus Marsh Express 12th September 1914

The first public meeting to establish the Avenue was held at the Bacchus Marsh Shire Hall on Monday the 24th of June 1918, with all residents of the Shire requested to attend.

...to decide on what steps shall be taken to plant trees on the main roads in honor of district soldiers. Many other places already have the work well, in hand. If advantage is to be taken of the present planting season no time will have to be lost.

- The Bacchus Marsh Express 22nd June 1918
click to enlarge
Photo courtesy of Sarah Wood Photography

The meeting resolved to refer the matter back to Council to carry out and the Council meeting on the 8th of July resolved that Council and a public committee should carry out the scheme and anyone who wished could help.(2)

Council also decided to call a meeting at Myrniong to see if they wanted to plant trees locally or as part of the Bacchus Marsh avenue—they chose to plant locally.

The committee held another public meeting(3) on the 15th of July, the result of which was a call for a Monster Working Bee(4) on the 3rd of August to dig the holes and plant the trees.

...Trees will only be planted for soldiers who enlisted in the Shire or whose parents resided here at the time of enlistment. It is expected that 170 will be required for this length of road, others having been planted elsewhere. Name plates and guards will be provided for each tree, and volunteers in the making of the guards are asked for - see particulars advertised. The ladies have undertaken to provide refreshments for the "bees" and assistance in this direction will also be welcomed. The Shire Council has decided to act as guarantor for the expense incurred...
... This privilege is also extended to any friends who wish to provide for a soldier connected with the district but did not enlist here...

- The Bacchus Marsh Express 20th July 1918

The date of the tree planting was altered(6) to the 10th of August due to the name plates and timber for the tree gaurds not being available by the 3rd. It was now expected that 200 trees would be planted and 120 were already subscribed.

Shortly before the day of the planting the number of trees to be planted had risen to 280 of which 211 had been subscribed(7).

On Saturday the 10th of August 1918 over 1000 people assembled near the Woolpack Inn to witness and assist in the planting ceremony. After the relatives and friends had distributed themselves along the two mile length of the Avenue, a bugle sounded and all 281 trees were planted, with the aid of the Planting Supervisors, within half an hour(8).

The trees planted were Canadian Elms - the Country Roads Board (CRB) would not allow evergreens as they would keep the road damp in winter. The CRB also insisted on them being planted 23ft. from the centre of the road, which means some of the trees at the western end encroach upon the footpath(7).

Sources

  1. Public Meeting - The Bacchus Marsh Express 22nd June 1918
  2. Public Meeting - The Bacchus Marsh Express 13th July 1918
  3. Public Meeting - The Bacchus Marsh Express 13th July 1918
  4. Monster Working Bee - The Bacchus Marsh Express 20th July 1918
  5. Honor Avenue Launched - The Bacchus Marsh Express 20th July 1918
  6. Date changed to the 10th of August - The Bacchus Marsh Express 27th July 1918
  7. Day of the planting - The Bacchus Marsh Express 10th August 1918
  8. Report of the planting - The Bacchus Marsh Express 17th August 1918

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Fundraising and Publications

Souvenir Postcards

Available to purchase at various retailers, or from the Bacchus Marsh RSL, these postcards celebrate the history, beauty and significance of our Avenue of Honour.

100% proceeds to go to the Bacchus Marsh RSL “Resting Poppy” project.

$4.00 each

WWI Personnel Biographies

Honour To Whom Honour Is Due: Bacchus Marsh & District Volunteers 1914-1918, by Katrina Lyle & Katrina Bradfield

This book describes the individual service and biographical details of 463 WWI volunteers from Bacchus Marsh and District, grouped by year of enlistment. An introduction to each of these sections describes the impact of the war on the local community, enabling greater understanding of the era’s existing and evolving values.

$50.00pp each

Statement of Significance

Heritage Council Victoria

The Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour is a combination of 281 Dutch elms (Ulmus X hollandica) and Huntington elms (Ulmus X hollandica 'Vegeta') planted in pairs approximately 20 metres apart. It is the second largest Avenue of Honour in Victoria and is largely intact.

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Strategic Management Plan

Moorabool Shire Council

The management strategy for the Avenue of Honour sets out key elements to ensure the Avenue is around for future generations. Key elements include the commitment of stakeholders, reduction of deleterious impacts to the trees and the propagation of appropriate replacement trees.

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