Toowong Anzac Park Avenue of Honour
Located south of the Toowong Cemetery (Brisbane General Cemetery), ANZAC Park has a long history. Originally designated as part of the Crown Cemetery Reserve, no burials had taken place in the area by 1887 and the space was gazetted as a rifle range. Following the decommissioning of the rifle range and the purchase of over 132 acres of land from the Brisbane General Cemetery by the Toowong Town Council in 1915, a variety of ornamental trees were planted in the park to commemorate the men of the district who died during World War I. The park was renamed Anzac Park in July 1916, apparently one of the first of its kind in the world to bear the historic title. Two local residents are attributed as being instrumental in the development of the memorial park. With some assistance from the Toowong council of the time, Mr Walter C. Harding, resident of Wool Street, and J. Hiron, began the beautification process during World War I and by December 1916, 800 trees and palms had been planted. In April 1918 the Brisbane Courier reported that almost 3000 trees had been planted at the personal expense of Mr Harding. However, due to lack of water and voluntary assistance, many of the trees perished in the warmer months.
Mr Harding also instituted the planting of an honour avenue of palms on the south side of ANZAC Park, along the Wool Street frontage, some of which survive today. The 1946 Brisbane City aerial imagery clearly shows uniform rows of trees running along the Wool Street border of the park, but it is unknown exactly how many trees were planted and in which quantity of species. It is thought that some Macadamia nut trees were planted. In conjunction with the planting of the trees, small plaques or signs were erected and position in front of each tree. The plaques contained the basic details of a local man who died during the war, including battalion colours, rank, name, unit, date of enlistment and date and place of death.
The planting of honour avenues of trees at Toowong Park (later Toowong Memorial Park) in September 1918, and references to this park as ‘ANZAC Park’ in some media articles of the day, led to some confusion between ANZAC Park, north of Wool Street, and Toowong Park, north of Sylvan Road. The subtitle to a photograph of a sapling and a memorial plaque (shaped like Australia) to Bomber Bert Richards, 25th Battalion, in The Queenslander journal of 14 September 1918, p.28, refers to a ‘tree planted in ANZAC Park…see page 29’. However, the article on the next page refers to the official opening and tree planting at Toowong Park on 7 September 1918, stating that ‘each tree is marked with a label in the form of a map of Australia, with the name and record of the soldier’. By the 1930s and the advent of the Second World War, ANZAC Park became neglected, plaques for the soldiers went missing and the surviving trees were in poor health.
During the Second World War, the site was utilised by the Australian army, in particular the 111 Australian General Transport Company. In 1946, the Brisbane City Council lodged a claim for damage to the park with the Federal Department of the Interior.
Much further research and investigation is required to fully reveal the secrets of Anzac Park, Toowong, but due to the current efforts of local residents, the site is being preserved and presented for further understanding. There are unsubstantiated claims that between the late 1950s and 1977, it was common practice for the ashes of returned soldiers to be placed in ANZAC park by their families. This and other leads will be investigated.
Inscriptions within the park consisted of small brass and metal plaques located in front of memorial trees, bearing the details of local men from the district who died at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.
- Conflicts commemorated
- First World War, 1914–1918
- Memorial type
- Recorded by
- Place identified by Deanne Morrison
- Date recorded
- 3 August 2011