Try moving a Moving Memorial – others have tried and failed

by

This is the Eagle statue in the Memorial Grove at the eastern corner of Civic Park. This beautiful little grove was the topic of quite a lot of discussion at the charette.

It occupies land that the designers suggested could be used for a sculpture garden for the Art Gallery.

To enable this the designers (or someone from council) came up with the idea that the park could be broken into two sections – the ‘festival’ half on the eastern or Darby Street end and the ‘ceremonial’  half where Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies could be held and the three war memorials could be together. There is the cenotaph, the Vietnam memorial and this memorial grove. The representative of the RSL who was at the charette made the point that there are many organisations who would have to be consulted before this amalgamation could happen.

 One of the stakeholders expressed concern that ‘anti-social behaviour’ takes place in this grove. It’s sheltered from the surrounding park and streets by shrubs so theoretically what goes on in there could be hidden from view.

I didn’t ask the stakeholder to clarify what they meant by this  behaviour but after going there myself about ten times in the last few months I would have to say that these anti-social perpetrators would have to be the cleanest and tidiest troublemakers I’ve ever come across – or not come across.

Perhaps council employ staff to clean up after them. People coming and going to and from the gallery or conservatorium would be in a better position to say what goes on there but the only people I’ve run into there have been parents with children. I presume they’re attracted by the dimensions of the place and the pool  (that doesn’t get cleaned) and the waterfall (that doesn’t work). In spite of the signs of neglect it’s still very beautiful.

I have said it before but I was appalled at the idea of moving this memorial. The entrance to the Gallery can be made beautiful without having to destroy this little section of the park. It strikes me as a quite disrespectful thing to do.

In Mackay last year the council talked about moving a cenotaph from a park called Jubilee Park to build a car park. 95% of people surveyed there opposed the idea of moving that memorial. The idea was so unpopular that it disappeared. You can read the history of the cenotaph here on the Mackay history site. It’s an impressive-looking memorial.

This case is interesting because the cenotaph has been moved twice in the past: it was built on the riverbank; floods caused erosion so it was moved to one end of Jubilee Park that in the 70s became the site of the City Council Civic Centre. No wonder the locals didn’t want to have it moved again. 

It was a story that rang bells: an area that needed revitalising, a town that needed more parking, a park that was looking ‘tired’ and wasn’t used often enough, according to some  councillors.  According to the mayor of Mackay there’s a ‘bucket of money to move war memorials’.

In Rochdale  in the UK the story is the same: there, council were trying to revitalise the town centre and an artist’s impression of the area around the Town Hall after creativity was to be unleashed on it excluded the war memorial.

In Torquay in 2008 a similar controversy broke out when the mayor expressed the view that an important war memorial should be moved. He said it was because the area had been ‘compromised’ over the years by newer buildings but it was interpreted as moving the memorial to make way for a casino. One of the councillors was quoted as saying that moving the memorial would be

‘ pandering to the god of lust and greed in particularly in putting that ahead of the memory of those who served and lost their lives for us.’

The vote in council within months of the proposal to make way for the casino was unanimous and was in favour of leaving the memorial where it was. (Photo of Torquay Memorial from the Daily Mail.)

Another awful example of how not to honour our war dead is the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour. Avenues of Honour are really interesting. They were incredibly popular during and after the First World War in Australia. I believe there are some overseas, certainly in Canada, but their popularity here was astounding. I did read somewhere that Australia has more war memorials per capita than anywhere else in the world. There is a project (see links) to document the remaining avenues of honour around the country. Sadly, more than half  of them have disappeared, casualties to time, neglect and road works.

There is a plan to remove twelve trees from the Bacchus Marsh avenue to put in a  roundabout. These trees were planted in commemoration of World War 1 soldiers:

‘The planting ceremony on 10 August 1918, well before armistice on 11 November 1918, was a community effort attracting one thousand spectators, with workers from the Darley Firebrick Company and other volunteers digging the holes and erecting tree guards in readiness for the planting.

‘After a bugle call relatives simultaneously planted in the 281 Dutch elms with each tree representing an individual soldier.

The Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour is largely intact and comprises predominantly mature,healthy elms planted in pairs…Each tree is dedicated to an individual soldier.’

(From a draft submission to list Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour on the Victorian Heritage Register.)

Perhaps we need a list of the names of the men whose trees are to be sacrificed. Then we need to interview their relatives on prime time television and put their photographs on the front page of national newspapers and have a senior politician tell us why their trees have to go. I was reading a blog about this a few nights ago and a local councillor had left a bullying comment on the blog. How sad. Another sad thing is this quote:

THE trees affected by a proposed roundabout on the Avenue of Honour need to be replaced anyway,  …  said on Monday.He said trees had to be periodically replaced along the avenue because of drought and disease.

“There must be some short-term pain to have long-term gain,” he said.

“If this committee and council don’t make this decision today, someone will look back and say, `Why wasn’t anything done 20 years ago?’ because the trees aren’t in good health.”

Sound familiar?

This avenue needs to be on the Heritage register. Read about it here. As many submissions as possible are needed and the deadline is April 20. We should all write in.

And here’s some good news. No 2 sportsground is being developed into a fancy facility with underground car parking and a whizz-bang smart looking field. (That’s not the good news.) Amendments have been made to the original plan. People objected to various things: over 100 trees were to be ‘removed’ to make the development possible. Some of the trees at the sportsground  have been designated as being of high significance – guess what sort of tree they include? You guessed it:  figs. So they’re staying.

And lastly, here are some photos of some more showcased garbage bins and utility areas around Laman Street and the park.  Home

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: