Rest areas honour heroes
Stories abound along this special stretch of highway
A LACK of suitable rest areas with facilities for truckies has been under the spotlight in the road transport industry.
But there are 23 stops in NSW and the ACT that deserve special praise – each is dedicated to brave soldiers who have won the Victoria Cross.
A 320km section called the Remembrance Driveway commemorates those who served in the Australian Defence Forces in World War II and subsequent wars.
Running 320km from Sydney to Canberra along the Hume and Federal Highways via Liverpool, Mittagong and Goulburn, the Remembrance Driveway provides rest areas dedicated to VC recipients as well as memorial parks and plantations along the route.
I drove along the route recently and stopped at many of the rest areas and some of them have fruit and food vans which are well patronised by travellers.
Afterwards I contacted Transport NSW to find out the history behind them.
Senior Media Officer Roads and Maritime Services Penny Robins was happy to provide the information to Big Rigs.
After World War II, Mrs Margaret Davis, the founding president of the Garden Clubs of Australia, suggested that a living memorial to those who had served in this conflict be established.
Mrs Davis was inspired by the Blue Star Highway, a planting of around 8000 dogwood trees along a five mile stretch of highway in New Jersey in the United States, as a memorial to the men and women of the US Armed Forces.
There are also a number of memorial avenues in Australia, such as the Avenue of Honour in Ballarat, dedicated to those who served in World War I.
As a result of Mrs Davis’ efforts, the Remembrance Driveway Committee was formed in 1954.
The Charter of the Committee was to arrange planting of avenues of trees and establish groves and memorial parks along the Hume and Federal Highways between Sydney and Canberra.
“The Remembrance Driveway is a tribute from those who remember yesterday and have faith in tomorrow.
“Many countries of the world have planted avenues and groves of trees. It is believed that Remembrance Driveway has taken its place among the foremost of these, and be quoted abroad as one of the finest arborial achievements ever planned.
“Remembrance Driveway thus has become a living shrine, dedicated to the patriotism, heroism and endurance of all those who kept alight the torch of freedom and justice when, one by one, so many other countries of the world saw it being dimmed.”
In 1954, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip each planted a plane tree in Macquarie Place, Sydney and Her Majesty planted a snow gum at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
These trees marked the beginning and end of the Driveway.
Victoria Cross Rest Areas, dedicated to all Australian Victoria Cross recipients from World War II and subsequent conflicts, have been established on the Driveway.
Seventeen of the 25 Victoria Crosses awarded since the World War II have been recognised with a dedicated VC Rest Area developed by Roads and Maritime.
A further five VC Memorial Parks, developed with the help of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, Australian Capital Territory, have been dedicated there.
The Victoria Cross is the pre-eminent medal for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia’s highest military honour.
Because of acts of valour and extraordinary personal courage, Victoria Cross recipients have been selected by name to represent the service of all the servicemen and women commemorated on the Driveway.
The Remembrance Driveway website provides VC Citations for each recipient.
There are a number of parks and plantings along the route of the Remembrance Driveway, helping to form the living memorial.
The most recent plantings include the Australian Defence Force Memorial Plantation, located between the Sir Roden Cutler VC Memorial Interchange at Prestons, and the Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan.
It consists of 15.5km of roadside and median plantings of 45,000 native trees and shrubs, and is marked with stone Memorial Walls at each end.
The Plantation was dedicated by the Governor-General of Australia in 2010.
Roads and Maritime involvement
There has always been a cordial relationship between Roads and Maritime and its predecessors, and the Remembrance Driveway Committee.
Roads and Maritime and its predecessors have been represented on the committee from the start. Roads and Maritime took up sponsorship of the Driveway committee in 1991 and since then has supported the concept of the Remembrance Driveway with very significant financial, planning and material assistance.
FOOTNOTE: Along the route there is one “rest area” truckies don’t want to stop at. That is the Heavy Vehicle Safety Station at Marulan.
DEDICATED STOP: There is plenty of parking for trucks and vans at the Frank Partridge VC rest area.
A truck travels along the Remembrance Highway.
There are plenty of rest area options along the route.
A memorial plaque for VC winner Kevin Wheatley at one of the rest areas.