The suggestion of an Avenue of Honour may have been originally put forward by Lady Irvine who was a member of the Welcome Home Committee. The Avenue of Honour was established to memorialise all those from Eltham who enlisted (some of whom were still fighting overseas at the time), similarly as the Shire of Eltham (Soldiers) Memorial Park was in tribute to all from the Shire who enlisted. The twenty-seven names of those killed from Eltham were engraved on the Eltham War Memorial Obelisk unveiled in 1919 at the corner of Main Road and Bridge Street.
From an article in the Heidelberg News and Greensborough, Eltham and Diamond Creek Chronicle, September 22, 1917, p. 2, it was reported:
Some few weeks ago a public meeting was held in the Eltham Rechabite Hall for the purpose of forming a committee to make necessary arrangements for the return of our brave lads from the front, with the result that the following officers were elected, viz., Sir William Irvine. president; Cr. R. D. Taylor, vice-president; Rev. T. W. Sapsford, secretary; Mr R. E. Gilsenan, treasurer; with a very strong committee of local residents. Lady Irvine then suggested that it would be nice to plant an Avenue of Honor, which was carried out in a very cheerful and spirited manner on Saturday afternoon. Cr Taylor and Mr R. E. Gilsenan occupied themselves during the fore-forenoon in getting the lining-out and other preliminaries ready, but shortly after one o'clock the willing workers could be seen wending their way towards the township, with picks, shovels. &c., on their shoulders, and in a very short time the gang at work was in appearance a very lively and pretty sight, the only thing that was missing was the camera, to have had a few snapshots taken. A little after 3 o'clock Sir William and Lady Irvine, and Mr W. Gray and family, arrived by motor. Cr Taylor then explained that their object in gathering together so hurriedly to plant the avenue was on account of the lateness of the season, and being offered 100 trees, free of charge, by Cr. Wm. G. Gray; of Allwood Nursery, Hurst's Bridge (for which the committee are deeply grateful to him and the public highly appreciate his generous offer). Sir Wm. Irvine then spoke at some length on the ravages of this cruel war, and the good that must result therefrom in bringing all closer together; he also referred to our brave lads who were fighting for us, and thought it was for those at home to show their appreciation by planting the Avenue of Honor. Lady Irvine thou proceeded to plant the first tree, which was an English oak: Sir William following by planting a Spanish chestnut; and Mrs W. G. Gray a sycamore. After that the gathering refired to the entrance of Mr R. E. Gilsenan's green paddock to partake of refreshments, which the ladies had kindly provided for the willing band of workers. Work was again taken to in earnest, and the planting finished, all being satisfied that they had done good work.
At the Eltham Shire Council’s monthly meeting held May 6, 1918, Cr. Gray promised to give Council £20 to £25 worth of trees if the Council would plant and guard them. His desire was that a tree be planted in the name of every soldier lad who has gone to the front.
Each tree was later adorned with a brass plaque with the name of a soldier and a wooden tree guard placed around them.
Over the years many trees died, and following roadworks were replanted on a new alignment. Nillumbik Shire Council is continuing this process of replanting trees in a new alignment to move them away from overhead power lines and to clear the VicRoads reserve.
Covered under Heritage Overlay, Nillumbik Planning Scheme.
Published: Nillumbik Now and Then / Marguerite Marshall 2008; photographs Alan King with Marguerite Marshall.; p119
This collection of almost 130 photos about places and people within the Shire of Nillumbik, an urban and rural municipality in Melbourne's north, contributes to an understanding of the history of the Shire. Published in 2008 immediately prior to the Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009, it documents sites that were impacted, and in some cases destroyed by the fires. It includes photographs taken especially for the publication, creating a unique time capsule representing the Shire in the early 21st century. It remains the most recent comprehenesive publication devoted to the Shire's history connecting local residents to the past.
Born digital image file