Liv­ing memo­ri­als

Joondalup Times - - WA SENIORS WEEK - Jon Bas­sett

PLAQUES at 1265 trees along Kings Park’s hon­our av­enues will re­mind the pub­lic of the sol­diers, sailors and air­men who died over­seas or have no known grave at this Sun­day’s cen­te­nary of the Armistice that ended World War I on Re­mem­brance Day.

“I of­ten have com­ments from peo­ple say­ing ‘We walk about the park, we look at the plaques’ and they have sig­nif­i­cance for them, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a young man who is re­mem­bered,” Hon­our Av­enues Group sec­re­tary Robin Slater (82) said.

There is only one oak tree left from the first plant­ing along May Drive in 1919. Three years later, mem­bers of the 14-strong High­gate RSL-based vol­un­teer group started tend­ing the 1700 plaques each week.

“Ev­ery one of us gets a great deal of pride from it and the sig­nif­i­cance of the plaques is great to us, as we are ex-ser­vice­men and they re­mem­ber the guys who went be­fore us,” Mr Slater said.

While most plaques are from World War I and II, some tell of the ser­vice by those in con­flicts as late as Bor­neo in the mid-1960s.

“Some days you come up here and there’s a flower on a tree and it could be the day that per­son died,” group pres­i­dent Ken Jones (86), of Dun­craig, said.

Hon­our av­enues started in Victoria in 1917, be­fore found­ing Kings Park Board mem­ber Arthur Lovekin ded­i­cated the trees on May Drive to 404 sol­diers in d487835

1919. Af­ter World War II,

300 su­gar gums were planted on Lovekin Av­enue in

1948 and Marri Walk near the Rio Tinto Na­turescape was ded­i­cated in 1999.

With age and storms tak­ing their toll on the gi­ant trees, the Kings Park Botanic Gar­dens and Parks Au­thor­ity (KPBGPA) is re­plac­ing the non-WA species with in­dige­nous types, in­clud­ing marri.

“It’s the char­ac­ter of the av­enues, with that cathe­dral-like light, their pres­ence, with mist on their damp trunks, that strikes you,” KPBGPA ar­bori­cul­ture cu­ra­tor Jeremy Thomas said.

“You stop, look at the plaque, and it ac­tu­ally paints a big­ger pic­ture that th­ese trees are our liv­ing mon­u­ments, our liv­ing as­sets to our fallen sol­diers.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­

High­gate RSL mem­bers Ken Jones and Robin Slater with the last tree planted in 1919 af­ter World War I.

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