A significant aspect of Port Arthur’s post-convict history has been celebrated, with the launch of new conservation and interpretation works on the Soldiers Memorial Avenue.
The works include a walkway between the trees which protects the remnant brick borders laid by school children in the 1930s while allowing parts of the original works to remain visible, along with new interpretive signage which tells visitors about the Avenue and why it was planted.
“The original planting commemorated 17 soldiers from the Carnarvon and Oakwood districts who died fighting overseas during the First World War,” said Minister for Veterans Affairs and Tourism, Scott Bacon MP at the launch.
“A further 21 trees were planted acknowledging other local men who were serving or had served overseas. Eventually a total of 44 trees was planted.”
Like many similar plantings around Tasmania, some of the trees, Cypress Macrocarpa or Monterey Cypress, are nearing the end of their lives and presenting a risk to visitors and infrastructure. A conservation management plan for the avenue was completed in 2011, following extensive consultation, which included local ex-servicemen and women, the Tasman RSL and the local historical society as well as other stakeholders such as Heritage Tasmania and the Tasmanian Veterans Advisory Council.
The plans, including the proposal for a three stage replacement of the trees, was overwhelmingly supported and the replacement program will commence in 2013.
“As the one hundred year anniversary of the First World War approaches, there is much consideration of how Australians could commemorate the ANZAC Centenary,” said Mr Bacon.
“I am delighted that the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority is intending to work further with the community to recognise and commemorate the Centenary in other ways.”
“Port Arthur really is an incredible place, with a much wider story than the well-known and celebrated convict history. It is right and important that the post-convict heritage continues to be celebrated.”
The walkway works, costing a total of $15,000, were assisted by a grant of $5,000 provided by the Veteran’s Affairs War Memorial Repair and Grants Program in 2011, and from PAHSMA’s conservation budget, which is supported by the Tasmanian Government as well as by surpluses from PAHSMA’s tourism operations. The grant application was submitted by PAHSMA’s Community Advisory Committee which provides support to the Authority in its community initiatives.