The Ballarat Avenue of Honour

The Ballarat Avenue of Honour is significant as the earliest known memorial avenue to have been planted in Victoria, and appears to have stimulated similar plantings throughout Victoria in the years 1917 to 1921. They predominate in Victoria with the greatest concentration in the Central Highlands around Ballarat. These avenues represent a new egalitarian approach in the commemoration of soldiers where service rank was not a consideration and are illustrative of a peculiarly Australian, populist and vernacular response to the experience of the First World War. They had declined in popularity as a means of commemoration by the time of the Second World War (Criterion A.4) The Ballarat Avenue is the longest avenue of honour in Australia and, composed of exotic trees planted along a major road, is a dominant landscape feature in the low farming country with a powerful social message.

History of the Avenue

The idea for the Ballarat Avenue of Honour in 1917 was attributed to Mrs W.D. (Tilly) Thompson, a director of a local clothing manufacturer, E. Lucas & Co. Between June 1917 and August 1919, a tree was planted for each soldier who enlisted as a resident of the urban area of Ballarat. The trees were planted in order of the soldiers enlistment, and stretched some 22km along the Western Highway, consisting of 3,771 trees.
This concept created the beginning of a cultural landscape peculiar to Australia. At least 128 Avenues of Honour were planted throughout Victoria between 1917 and 1921, the majority concentrated in the Central Highlands.
From the beginning, the Ballarat Avenue was grand in concept, culminating in the official opening of the Arch of Victory by the Prince of Wales in 1920. The 500 staff of E. Lucas & Co. (known as the 'Lucas Girls) not only raised the money required, but then proceeded to plant all the trees themselves on weekends.
To this day, the Avenue continues to present a vast and memorable leafy gateway to the City of Ballarat, and a grand living monument to those who volunteered for active service.
 

Location

The Avenue of Honour is located along the Ballarat Burrumbeet Road (former Western Highway) approximately 4 kilometres north west of the Ballarat City Centre. The Avenue is presently comprised of a total of 3,332 trees, and covers a distance of approximately 22km in length. It begins at the Arch of Victory in Alfredton, runs westward to Lake Burrumbeet where it changes direction and heads north, crossing the Western Freeway Bypass and continuing along Avenue Road to Weatherboard Learmonth Road. It is a continuous Avenue except where the Western Freeway Bypass has recently been constructed across it, and just south of this point where only a single row of trees lines the road on the east side.

Tree Planting and Species:

On 3 June 1917, the first 1,000 trees in the Avenue were planted by staff from the local textile mill E. Lucas & Co. Just over two years later the final planting took place on 16 August 1919, with a total of 3,771 trees extending over a distance of approximately 14 miles along the Ballarat-Burrumbeet Road. There were eight plantings in all, which took place sometime between June and August each year and usually consisted of around 500 trees. The trees were planted in single lines along either side of the road at a regular spacing of 35-40ft apart, and set back from the edge of the carriageway approximately 15-20ft. Each newly planted tree was protected by a substantial timber guard, to which a plate bearing each soldiers name, rank and unit was attached.
Originally 23 different species of trees were planted in the Avenue including American Ash, English Ash, Mountain Ash, North American Maple, Scarlet Oak, Norway Maple, Broadleaf Maple, English Maple, Alder Trees, Lime Trees, Ontaria Poplars, Silver Birch, Deciduous Cypress, Oaks (Sailors), Purple Leaf Elm, New Silver Poplars, Tulip trees, Huntingdon Elms, Canadian Giant Elms, Oriental Planes, Black Italian Poplars, Sugar Maple and Chestnut Oak. Individual species were usually planted in blocks of about 50 trees (25 either side), however during the last two sections of the Avenue a slight change was made and two different species were used alternately and planted in blocks of around 100 trees). Many of the original species used in the Avenue did not flourish and were soon replaced by several different species of Elm Ulmus sp. and Poplar Populus sp.
 

Bronze Memorial Plaques

In 1934 the original Avenue name plates fixed to the tree guards (most of which were lost or missing) were replaced with the permanent bronze name plaques in the Avenue today. Manufactured by the local Ballarat firm of Mann Bros., the plaques were hand cast in gunmetal and bolted to mild steel straps set in concrete footings at the base of each tree.
The previous Avenue name plates fixed to the tree guards between 1917 and 1919 originally recorded each soldier's name (including full Christian name), unit and rank. However, in 1934 the Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee decided that no reference to any title or rank should be included on the new plaques, and that full Christian names would be replaced with an initial. Consequently, each bronze plaque records a soldier's name (surname with up to three initials), tree number and battalion. When known, many of the plaques also included a cross below a soldier's name to indicate that they were killed in action.

Arch of Victory Unveiled 2nd June 1920

The result of a great deal of work by the girls employed by E Lucas and Co., who raised the money required to build the Arch.
The foundation stone was laid on the 7th February 1920 by General Sir William Birdwood and the Arch was opened on the 2nd of June 1920 by the Prince of Wales. The Arch is made of bricks, cement rendered. On sunday 13th March 1938, Mr S Walker, President of the Ballarat RSSIA unveiled the Temple of Remembrance which is situated at the entrance of the Avenue of Honour. The temple houses a Book of Remembrance which contains a number of steel sheets upon which have been inscribed the names of every person in whose honour a tree has been planted in the Avenue. On the 7th of November 1954, Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead unveiled two tablets to acknowledge the services of the men and women from Ballarat in the 1939 - 1945 war.

CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF EVENTS

1917 Employees of Ballarat textile mill E. Lucas & Co. began planting the Avenue of Honour along the Ballarat-Burrumbeet Road on June 3rd to commemorate the soldiers, sailors and nurses from the district who served during World War One.
1919 Final planting (eighth section) of the Avenue of Honour on August 16th. The completed Avenue comprised 3,771 trees (23 species), extended over a distance of approx. 14 miles and cost a little over £2,000. A returned soldier was employed to maintain the Avenue.
1920 Arch of Victory at the Ballarat end of the Avenue officially opened by the Prince of Wales on June 3rd (third anniversary of first tree planting). The Arch cost a total of £2,105, with funds raised by the Lucas Girls.
1921 Two captured German Gun war trophies placed at the Arch of Victory unveiled on Anzac Day.
1925 Fundraising to provide permanent name plates for the Avenue begun by the Lucas Girls with the sale of surplus seeds, bulbs and plants from the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
1931 Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee formed to assume responsibility for administration of funds for maintenance of the Arch and Avenue and provision of permanent name plates. Took over from the committee at E. Lucas & Co. who had previously maintained the Arch and Avenue.
1934 Permanent bronze name plates installed at the Avenue of Honour. Manufactured by the Ballarat firm of Mann Bros., the name plates cost approx. £1,630 (inc. installation).
1935 Temporary floodlighting installed at the Arch of Victory for the Ballarat Centenary celebrations.
1936 Memorial Cairn and Cross of Remembrance erected at the western end of the Avenue near Learmonth unveiled on Armistice Day (renewed in more permanent materials in 1959).
1938 Rotunda and Roll of Honour to the memory of Ballarat and district soldiers, sailors and nurses who served during World War One erected approx. 200 yards west of the Arch outside the Ballarat Golf Club. The memorial contained a Book of Remembrance recording the names of every person for whom a tree had been planted in the Avenue of Honour.
1940 Committee experimented with different methods of cleaning and securing name plates over the next few years, and approx. 150 plates at the Ballarat end of the Avenue removed from stands and screwed to the trees.
1950 Official Anzac Day dawn service shifted from the Arch of Victory to the newly erected Cenotaph on Sturt Street. Short wreath laying ceremonies were still held at the Arch during subsequent years.
1954 Two granite plaques added to the Arch to commemorate the services of members of the Army, Navy and Air Force during World War Two unveiled on Remembrance Day.
1957 First meeting of the Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee in over 11 years following the deaths of 6 key members.
1960 CRB proposed scheme to replant 160 trees in the Avenue to allow for realignment of dangerous portions of the Western Highway.
1965 CRB announced proposed scheme to widen Avenue to allow for construction of a four lane divided highway, including realignment of the roadway around the Arch. Regular replacement of dead/missing trees discontinued because a major replanting scheme was considered necessary.
1970 CRB introduced plantations of native trees and shrubs on the south side of the road reserve west of the Cardigan Railway Line to replace Avenue trees and allow for duplication of the roadway (242 name plates were relocated to these plantations in 1987). Numerous trees removed from the Avenue during the 1970s and early 1980s to allow for intersection improvements and entrances to various Caravan Parks, Hotels/Motels and residential estates.
1977 Following a number of fatal road accidents RCA introduced a variety of improvements to the highway over the next few years including corner delineators, raised reflective pavement markers and trebling the number of guide posts over a section of the Avenue.
1985 Old paintwork removed and the Arch restored to its original render finish at a cost of $4,360.
1987 Memorial plaques on the Arch dedicated to Malaya, Korea, Borneo and Vietnam Veterans unveiled on October 25th. 400 trees replanted in the Avenue in a joint project between the Committee, Eureka Apex Club, and the Shire and City Councils.
1988 Avenue of Honour classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) on the Register of Significant Trees. First stage of the Ballarat Bypass begun by the RCA.
1990 Total of 102 existing Avenue trees removed by VicRoads during the widening of three intersections along the Western Highway - Haddon Road & Windermere Road intersection, Heinz Lane intersection, and Crown and Sceptre Road & Finches Road intersection - with replacement trees planted approx. 9m back from the edge of the roadway. Arch of Victory Avenue of Honour Committee formed a policy on Western Highway Bypass, supporting moves which reduce traffic volumes and improve road safety on this section of the Highway but objecting to the way in which the Bypass breaks the Avenue into two separate parts at the Avenue Road intersection. Committee incorporated on January 30th.
1991 Rumble strips and tactile line marking introduced along the Avenue by VicRoads to improve road safety. Public appeal for $100,000 for Memorial Wall Project and $50,000 for Avenue of Honour Preservation and Enhancement Fund launched by the Committee on Anzac Day. Numerous authorities, organisations, charities and individuals approached for assistance over the following two years.
1992 Total of 24 existing Avenue trees removed by VicRoads during the widening of Dowling Road intersection, with replacement trees planted approx. 9m back from the edge of the roadway. Avenue of Honour entered on the Australian Heritage Commission Register of the National Estate on June 30th.
1993 Memorial Wall Project adjacent to the Arch of Victory officially opened by Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop on May 16th. Erected at a cost of approx. $140,000 the project comprised a 10m long x 1.8m high wall with bronze plates recording the names and tree numbers of the service men and women honoured in the Avenue, and included the relocation of the Memorial Rotunda from outside the Ballarat Golf Club erected in 1938.
1994 Ballarat Bypass completed late in the year, reducing traffic along the Avenue by an estimated 80 percent. Approx. 16 existing trees in the Avenue removed by VicRoads during construction of the Bypass, with replacement trees planted on the outer edge of the Freeway reserve and along the southern side of Gluepot Road. Elms in the Avenue damaged by accidental drift from spraying of herbicide which covered a 500km2 area of central Victoria.
1996 Arch of Victory relight with new floodlights, and with the assistance of a National Estate grant the Committee commissioned the preparation of a Management Strategy Plan for the Avenue of Honour.

Ballarat's Arch of Victory reopens

Courtesy of The Ballarat Courier
Article by Jorden Oliver Nov 6 2011

HUGE crowds gathered at Ballarat’s historic Arch of Victory yesterday for the grand reopening of the monument, 91 years since Edward Prince of Wales first cut the ribbon.Australia’s Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, officially reopened the Arch, following six months of restoration works.Ms Bryce arrived at midday, greeting children bearing flowers before making her way to the podium, where she addressed the 800-strong crowd.“You must have great pride in this wonderful regional centre – the grandeur of public and private buildings, the grid of gardens, elegant wide streets and imposing city structures,” she told the crowd.“All reminders of the prosperity that build your city, a city of rich history.”Ms Bryce said the Arch of Victory and the adjacent Avenue of Honour were powerful reminders of the sacrifice of countless men and women. “I think that an avenue of trees makes the most touching, evocative and powerful memorial,” she said.“This Arch of Victory stands as a lasting memorial to all those who fought for our freedom during the last century. It stands for future generations of young people as a symbol of inspiration and courage.”She said it was “uplifting” to note the employees of a local textile company, affectionately known as the “Lucas Girls”, had raised enough funds to originally build the Arch in 1920.The $810,000 restoration includes $510,000 in funding from the federal government and $300,000 from the City of Ballarat.The restoration included a full pressure clean of the structure, repairs to cornices and mouldings, installation of new lighting, application of a ‘breathable’ mineral paint coating, replacement of the roof structure, restoration of commemorative plaques and restoration of the adjacent infrastructure.Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King said the Arch of Victory was an enduring monument to the service and sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women.“Protecting and investing in heritage places enables us to understand and appreciate our past,” she said.
 

COMPARATIVE OVERVIEW OF AVENUES OF HONOUR IN VICTORIA

The practice of planting of trees for commemorative purposes dates back to antiquity, the Romans pioneering the concept of commemorative tree planting along roads with the burying their dead outside the city in tombs strung along the roadside.
In Australia commemorative trees have been planted in public spaces since the late nineteenth century. As Dickens (1985) notes, a huge interest in plants among Victorians was created by the ever increasing numbers of 'new' plants becoming available, and trees were planted on every possible occasion. Arbor Days were held regularly in most Victorian State Schools during the late 1800's and early 1900's, and numerous trees were planted in parks in Melbourne and throughout Victoria to mark the visits of important and famous people. This tradition of commemorative planting was continued in 1901 when at the end of the Boer War trees were often planted for each soldier of the district who was killed in South Africa. In Australia the use of trees as a memorial to soldiers may date from the Boer War, however these plantings rarely consisted of more than two or three trees in each town.
In contrast, the number of dead from the First World War was enormous. By 1918 the extremely high casualty rate of 64.93% (highest of all the allied forces) meant that every Australian was related to or closely associated with someone who had been killed during the war. For Australians the war was personalised. These facts help to explain why most Australians were involved in creating war memorials (Australia outdoes all other nations in war memorials). Many towns began plans for their memorials well before the War had ended. The Avenues of Honour at Ballarat, Ballarat East, Cambrian Hill, Digby and Seymour were begun in 1917, with a further 15 avenues planted elsewhere during the following year. As many of the Avenues of Honour were planted while the servicemen were still overseas, a tree was usually planted for each person who served in the War rather than only for those who had died. Due to the sheer numbers involved, raising money for the trees , tree guards and name plates was often quite difficult. Even so, avenues were usually (though not always) a cheaper option than stone obelisks or statues and it has been suggested this may be one reason why many of the smaller country towns decided to plant avenues over other types of memorials (Dickens 1985; Haddow 1987).
A National Survey of War Memorials in 1920-21 indicates that at least 121 Avenues of Honour were planted throughout Australia in response to the First World War - 92 in Victoria, 14 in New South Wales, 12 in Tasmania, 2 in Western Australia and 1 in South Australia. By the Second World War avenue planting had lost much of its original popularity, and in Victoria only 11 new avenues were planted and extensions made to 7 existing World War One avenues (Refer to Appendix 4).

Distribution:

Avenues of Honour are a uniquely Australian phenomenon. Australians, and in particular Victorians, embraced the idea of planting Avenues of Honour more enthusiastically than any other country in the world. Despite the research of others (Dickens 1985; Haddow 1987), there are no known Avenues of Honour in the United States, United Kingdom or New Zealand.
Avenues of Honour were a more popular form of war memorial in Victoria than in any other state of Australia. Returns from the 1920-21 National Survey of War Memorials indicate that in Victoria avenues represented 10% of all war memorials, in Tasmania 5%, Western Australia 1%, New South Wales 1% and South Australia less than 1%. In terms of the total number of avenues Victoria, NSW and Tasmania dominate. Nationally, Avenues of Honour are a south-eastern Australian phenomenon with Victoria representing 78% of those avenues. In Victoria the majority of avenues occur in the Central Highlands region, with very few in the Wimmera, Mallee or East Gippsland. Within this broader distribution pattern the avenues predominantly appear in clusters with the majority located in country Victoria (Haddow 1987 & 1988b).
Research by Haddow (1987) suggests that the concentration of avenues in the Central Highlands region of Victoria can probably be attributed to the effect of the Ballarat Avenue of Honour - the earliest and largest recorded avenue in Australia. Established amidst much interest and enthusiasm, the Ballarat avenue was grand in conception and form, and no other avenue involved so many people or fundraising activities, cost so much or consisted of so many trees. It is conceivable that the Ballarat avenue acted as a stimulus for other communities who were debating the type of memorial they would erect or that it was the catalyst for communities already pre-disposed to the concept of tree the planting form of memorial.
From its inception the Ballarat avenue was associated with some influential figures - the charismatic Mrs Thompson, the State Premier, various other MP's and later the Prince of Wales. It was inevitable that knowledge of the avenue would spread, that the activities of the Lucas Girls and the opening by the Prince of Wales would receive Local, State and National publicity. Apart from the avenue itself the rather unusual family-like atmosphere of the firm E. Lucas & Co and the companionship between the Lucas girls is likely to have created some interest. The fund raising activities ensured that thousands of people were exposed to the idea of the avenue whether through the football matches, afternoon teas and garden parties or simply the purchase of a doll, necklace or souvenir booklet. Ballarat was an important regional centre in the Central Highlands and many people passed through it either holidaying or on business.
The great majority of Avenues of Honour were planted along National and State Highways or major connecting roads, therefore Avenues of Honour had maximum public exposure because they were associated with major transport links within the State. The importance of major transport links is also demonstrated by the apparent clustering pattern of the avenues, where most of the Avenues of Honour are clustered and linked with important regional centres such as Albury, Orbost, Bairnsdale, Traralgon, Leongatha, Berwick, Lilydale, Seymour, Hamilton, Dimboola and Ballarat (Haddow 1987).
Population, geographic and climatic factors also appear to have influenced the distribution of avenues throughout the state. Haddow (1987) suggests that low population densities in the North East and Central Gippsland possibly account for the fact that few avenues exist in these areas. Low population densities reflect the difficulties of terrain and communication. In both these regions the climate would have been suitable for growing exotic trees (the preferred species during WWI), by contrast the Mallee and Wimmera were not climatically suited to growing European trees and those examples which do exist are of Australian natives - Sugar Gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx at Pyramid Hill, Kaniva and Kotupna and Kurrajong Brachychiton populneum at Nathalia. Droughts during the periods 1913-16 and again in 1918-20 affected northern Victoria in particular and may also have influenced decisions about planting avenues (Haddow 1987).
Haddow (1987) speculates on several reasons for the apparent greater popularity of Avenues of Honour in rural Victoria. In addition to the often cheaper costs than other types of memorials, perhaps roadside land was more available in rural areas whereas in the city the land was in private or government ownership. In urban areas avenue planting may also have been complicated by services such as gas, electricity, water, pedestrian and vehicle routes. To account for the Australia wide distribution of Avenues of Honour is more difficult. It is possible that the Ballarat Avenue had some impact on a national level but this would have been minimal as even within Victoria its impact decreased with distance. Haddow suggests that climatic factors and population distribution are the most likely influences. In Victoria Avenues of Honour are generally under-represented in areas of low population and climatic difficulty. The harsh climate and low rainfall of South Australia may help to explain why there was only one Avenue of Honour in that state. In Western Australia only two Avenues of Honour were recorded in the 1920-21 survey of War Memorials. Poor climate and soils for growing exotic trees (the preferred species during WWI) may account for the lack of popularity of avenues in that state. In contrast Victoria has long been referred to as the 'Garden State' and no other state can grow exotic trees so extensively.

Community Origins and Involvement:

Avenues of Honour held a special importance for a city or town and reveal a great deal about the attitudes of the local community towards those who served during the First or Second World Wars. Avenues of Honour were not the result of Government legislation but were borne (along with all war memorials) of a common social cause and commitment. The majority of war memorials of both the First and Second World Wars were paid for by funds raised locally, and to some extent the type of memorial reflected the wealth and size of the community. In Victoria the type and location of the memorial was usually decided in public forums such as the local Progress Association or at special public meetings, then funded by public subscription and other fundraising activities.
Unlike most other types of memorials, Avenues of Honour involved a high level of participation by the local community of the city or town in which they occurred. At Ballarat the Avenue was planted by the staff of E. Lucas & Co, while fathers and uncles helped dig holes for the trees and local farmers delivered wagon loads of timber to the site for tree guards. Similarly, at Rokewood the trees were supplied by the residents and planted by voluntary labour, in Piggoret the trees were planted at working bees by enthusiastic residents, and in Seymour the Avenue was planted by school children (Haddow 1987).

In contrast, when communities chose memorials such as statues, obelisks or honour boards the work required skilled tradespeople and consequently the community was less involved in actually creating the memorial. Often these types of memorial were crafted and assembled in factories hundreds of miles away (and sometimes overseas) using imported materials and tradespeople. As Haddow notes, Avenues more than other types of war memorials exhibit their populist and vernacular origins, so that, while they are symbols of a national cause they have been created by local communities and exhibit many interesting local variations.
Tree Species:
Since ancient times specific plants have been associated with death, its rituals and surroundings. In burial grounds around the world Cypress, Yew, Weeping Willows and Poppies are the traditional symbols of melancholy, while Laurels, Oaks and Olive trees are suggestive of longevity and honour. Specific plant forms also have important associations with commemoration of the dead. Trees which are vertical or pyramidal such as Poplars and Cypress are often used to symbolise 'the elevation of the soul from worldly concerns and focusing heavenward on the external', while the weeping form of Birch and Willow signify 'grief, sorrow and mourning' (Curl 1980; Etlin 1984).
Of the 58 Avenues of Honour in Victoria which are still known to exist only 10 bare any association with plant symbolism. There are Cypress avenues (death and melancholy) at Lara, Moonie Ponds, Mortlake, Inverleigh and Coleraine, the Pine avenue (mortality) at Corindhap, the Oak avenues (virtue and majesty) at Cranbourne and Woodend, the Palm avenue (martyrdom, victory) at Epsom and the Walnut avenue (funeral tree) at Tourello. And only for the Avenues at Sandringham where it was decided to plant Red Flowering Gums Eucalyptus ficifolia 'so that they would form a scarlet coated guard of honour in summer' is there any record of a deliberate choice being made based on plant symbolism (Haddow 1987).
Rather, it appears that the choice of tree species had more to do with the availability of plants, fashion and practicability. In the Western District for example, Pines and Cypress had been used extensively since the 1870's, while in the case of Mt Macedon the avenue Committee's choice was determined by 'the opinion of experts'. Similarly, avenues from the First World War consisted overwhelmingly of European or exotic species which were popular at the time, where as the use of native plants in avenues was more common in Second World War avenues following their gain in general popularity during the 1920's (Haddow 1987).

EXISTING HERITAGE CLASSIFICATIONS

National Trust of Australia (Victoria):
The Ballarat Avenue of Honour was 'classified' on the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Register of Significant Trees on 15 December 1988. The classification was defined as an Avenue comprising 3091 trees (Ulmus sp.) on the Western Highway from Ballarat and the Learmonth Road. The estimated age of the trees was 69-71 years, and the Avenue was rated as being in good to fair condition. The citation for the Avenue is as follows:
At 22km this WWI avenue is by far the longest in Victoria and possibly the State's first commemorative planting. Following this planting, some 128 avenues were planted in Victoria, particularly around Ballarat. The avenue was planted between 3 June 1917 and 16 August 1919 by the three Lucas sisters from the Ballarat Fashion House of E. Lucas and Co. The best sections of the avenue - mixed species of mainly Elms, Ash and Poplars - occur along Learmonth Road and near the Arch of Victory. The avenue is in urgent need of attention and the substitute plantings of mixed natives are inappropriate.
The Avenue was classified by the Trust on the basis of the following criteria:
(2) Any tree which occurs in a unique location or context and so provides a contribution to the landscape, including native remnant vegetation, important landmarks, and trees which form part of an historic garden, park or town.
(8) Any tree commemorating a particular occasion (including plantings by Royalty) or having associations with an important historic event.
Australian Heritage Commission:
The Ballarat Avenue of Honour was entered on the Australian Heritage Commission Register of the National Estate on 30 June 1992. The listing was defined as 'an avenue of trees, about 22km long, on either side of the Western Highway, from the Arch of Victory near Learmonth Street, Ballarat, and Avenue and Burrumbeet-Learmonth North Roads, to the intersection of the latter with the Weatherboard Learmonth Road'. The Avenue was noted as consisting predominantly of Elms, but represented eleven different exotic species in total (Ulmus x hollandica, U. vegeta, U. x hollandica Purpurascens, Populus nigra 'Italica', P. x canescens, P. alba 'Pyramidalis, Fraxinus excelsior, F. americana, Acer campestre, Quercus palustris, Taxodium distichum). It was also noted that many of the original 3912 trees have died or been removed during roadworks. Many of the trees were in need of horticultural attention, and many of the name plaques had disappeared. In spite of this the Avenue remains remarkably intact and is one of the healthiest in Victoria (May 1990). The AHC Official Statement of Significance is as follows:
The Ballarat Avenue of Honour is significant as the earliest known memorial avenue to have been planted in Victoria, and appears to have stimulated similar plantings throughout Victoria in the years 1917 to 1921. They predominate in Victoria with the greatest concentration in the Central Highlands around Ballarat. These avenues represent a new egalitarian approach in the commemoration of soldiers where service rank was not a consideration and are illustrative of a peculiarly Australian, populist and vernacular response to the experience of the First World War. They had declined in popularity as a means of commemoration by the time of the Second World War (Criterion A.4) The Ballarat Avenue is the longest avenue of honour in Australia and, composed of exotic trees planted along a major road, is a dominant landscape feature in the low farming country with a powerful social message.