Avenue of Honour that really isn’t

RELATED: Tribute tree to go

REMOVAL of 49 poplar and elm trees along the Maffra-Tinamba Rd is now under way.

VicRoads stated in a bulletin advising the public of the tree removals, “VicRoads is aware that some of these trees were originally planted as a tribute for war veterans, and has been in discussions with both the Heyfield and Maffra RSLs.”

VicRoads had determined the trees posed a threat to motorists following an arborist’s assessment found some of the trees were in poor condition, posing a risk of falling or dropping limbs.

However local historian Linda Barraclough said she was surprised to read that the trees were an Avenue of Honour as she had found no historical evidence to support the claim.

“When work was undertaken on them in the 1990s, there was discussion with Maffra and District Historical Society as to their origin, and they (VicRoads) were advised that there was no evidence to support this, and that it was quite unlikely,” she said.

“Since then, considerably more records have become available, but there is still no credible evidence that the trees are a memorial avenue.”

Ms Barraclough said she had spoken with the late Warrant Officer (Ret) Neville Gibbons on a number of occasions and he was not aware of the stretch being a tribute.

“Neville Gibbons OAM made an exhaustive study of memorials to military service in Wellington Shire,” she said.

“I discussed this memorial with him a number of times. He did not believe the Tinamba one was an avenue of honour.”

Ms Barraclough’s beliefs are backed up by 82-year-old born and raised Tinamba woman Heather Ollier.

She said she had been travelling that road since she was four years-old, and she had never heard of the trees being planted as a tribute to war veterans.

“I’ve been travelling that road all my life and I have never known of that section being a tribute avenue,” Mrs Ollier said.

“My father was a returned soldier and he never mentioned the avenue being a tribute.”

Mrs Ollier said VicRoads had good reason to remove the trees, as there had been previous problems with falling limbs.

In January 2006, a hot wind storm rolled into Tinamba and the strong wind caused a large tree limb to fall into Mrs Ollier’s front yard.

“I heard a big crash,” she said.

The crash she heard was the tree limb hitting her front fence, but the real danger was the live wire that had been knocked down outside her home.

“My son rang and said ‘mum, don’t go outside, there’s a live wire outside your house and you will get electrocuted’,” she said.

“The police came and parked in my driveway for hours so no one would step on the live wires. The power stayed off until 2am the next morning.”

Mrs Ollier said the council removed several trees following the incident and she believed the removal of the trees along the Maffra-Tinamba Rd was a safety measure for motorists and cyclists.

Removal of the trees along Tinamba Maffra Rd has now commenced and motorists can expect some delays.