Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue

001-2.jpg
IMG_0337-2.jpg
IMG_0355-2.jpg
IMG_0340-2.jpg
058-2.jpg

The Soldiers Memorial Walk was originally opened in August 1918 to honour servicemen who had died during World War 1. Not all those recognised came from Hobart but all had a connection with Hobart. There was no official list or qualifications to be part of the Avenue other than a request by a family member who lived in Hobart or New Town for a tree to be planted in memory of family member who died in service during World War 1. The initial planting recognised 520 men and in some places the avenue was four trees wide. From the 1960’s on the Avenue progressively deteriorated with a significant loss of trees through the development of the Domain and was cut off from the city by new highways. More than 10 years ago a small group of dedicated volunteers began work on restoring the Soldiers Memorial Walk on the Queen’s Domain in Hobart to recognise the sacrifice of the servicemen and to revitalise the area as a memorial. Over time this group has been renamed The Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue.

The Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue, in partnership with the Hobart City Council, set about restoring and promoting the avenue as one of the largest memorials in Tasmania. To complete the project the Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue, HCC and their partners had to identify the servicemen who had originally been recognised and make contact with their families, they had to replant many of the trees that had been lost, remove all weeds and other invading vegetation and they had to construct and rebuild paths and steps on the Domain to create a family friendly environment that was inviting and reflective.

In Round 15, the Tasmanian Community Fund provided a grant of a little under $65 000 to assist with the establishment of the pathways and a staircase and to install benches and interpretation panels. The Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue have also had significant financial assistance from Tassal, other community and business partners and from family members of the servicemen who are recognised on the avenue. Volunteers have spent countless hours researching and working with families as part of the restoration, promoting the Avenue and undertaking work on site.

At the start of the project the Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue had made their mission statement For every soldier a tree, for every tree a plaque. On Remembrance Day 2013 the final dedication ceremony for the restored Soldiers Memorial Avenue was conducted. Over the past few years the Friends of Soldiers Memorial Avenue have established 535 trees and/or plaques in memory of the initial 520 servicemen who were initially recognised on the Avenue and an additional 15 servicemen and women who can now be recognised. Each of the plaques provides details of the serviceman or woman service record plus also some personal information to provide a sense of who they were beyond their military service. Visitors to the site can spend time learning about these men and women or take the time to sit and enjoy the view of the mountain or the Derwent River.

The work on the Avenue and the Domain will continue as further pathways, car parks and family friends spaces are developed to enhance the visitor experience of the Soldiers Memorial Avenue and of the Domain. It is also intended that public exhibitions and tours of the Avenue will continue, especially for school groups. Education and interpretation of Soldiers Memorial Avenue will become the focus during the Centenary of Anzac.