Yankalilla council are moving toward honouring those who served in wartime with an Avenue of Honour

Lions Club member Nigel Pile and Yankalilla councillor Glen Rowlands at Robert Norman Park where a plaque will be laid and behind is the first tree planted.
Lions Club member Nigel Pile and Yankalilla councillor Glen Rowlands at Robert Norman Park where a plaque will be laid and behind is the first tree planted.

The community and the District Council of Yankalilla are moving as one with the recognition and establishment of the Normanville World War I Avenue of Honour.

Former Mayor and now councillor Glen Rowlands moved at the October council meeting that council supports the recognition of the Normanville WW1 Avenue of Honour and approves the Lions Club of Yankalilla, Yankalilla RSL and Yankalilla Historical Society placing a large interpretive, coloured sign on the brick structure in Robert Norman Reserve.

Council will also assist and provide letters of support for any grant funding application associated with the Normanville WW1 Avenue of Honour and commits to a contribution of up to $1000 to support any grant application requiring financial contribution.

Cr Rowlands had the full support of fellow elected members.

The avenue of Morton Bay Figs runs from Jetty Road to Hay Flat Road. This plantation had a chequered start with many of the original 19 trees planted not surviving and needing to be replanted.

A total of eight trees remain.

Mr Rowlands said this was a way council could support the recognition of men from the local district that enlisted and served in World War One.

Towards the end of 2020, the Lions Club had Glenn Williams from Treenet as their guest speaker. Glenn spoke about significant avenue of trees, using the Ballarat Avenue of Honour as an example and how they have been recognised by many.

"There are a few avenues across our district, one being the Morton Bay Fig trees along Jetty Road. The research that Glenn Williams brought to the Lions Club was about an adjoining avenue of Morton Bay Figs which runs from Jetty Road to Hay Flat Road," Cr Rowlands said.

"This was planted as local men from the Yankalilla District enrolled to serve in World War 1. This was arranged by Mr R.B. Clark a local resident and believed to be a councillor of the District Council of Yankalilla.

"Cr Clark wanted the planting to recognise the enlistment of his son and many of his son's friends from Normanville."

From that meeting a combined group representing the Yankalilla Historical Society, RSL and Lions has met to consider the possibility of placing a large interpretive, coloured sign on the brick structure in Norman Reserve.

"Nigel Pile from the Lions Club motivated me and now it is progressing," Cr Rowlands said.

Mr Pile said the historical society had an interest in this project from the start.

"Ballarat based Avenues of Honour historian Dr Michael Taffe visited our avenue in 2017 and stated that the Normanville Avenue of Honour was the first memorial to the Great War in Australia," Mr Pile said.

Cr Rowlands said the plaque would explain the significance of the plantings, which will be unveiled on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

"They pre-dated the news of the Gallipoli losses and newspaper article mentions A. S. McArthur as being the first for whom the tree would become a memorial after he was killed at Gallipoli.

"A painting of him hangs in the RSL hall and would make a good addition to the visual impact of the sign," Cr Rowalnds said.

"I attended the first meeting, Margaret Morgan attended the second meeting and the Historical Society is glad to participate in this project.

"The inclusion of the names of the soldiers mentioned in newspaper reports should be included as descendants can visit the site to see the names."

The group have since applied for a 'Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grant' to help fund and create more awareness of the Normanville WWI Avenue of Honour.

The Federal Government Grant, The Saluting Their Service (STS) Commemorative Grants program is designed to preserve Australia's wartime heritage and to involve people throughout the nation in a wide range of projects and activities that highlight the service and sacrifice of Australia's servicemen and women in wars, conflicts and peace operations, and promote appreciation and understanding of the role that those who served have played in shaping the nation.

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