Honour Avenue plaques sit poignantly against a backdrop of eucalypt trees. Each bears details of service personnel who died during war service and were either buried overseas or have no known graves.
Honour Avenues plaques database
There are currently almost 1800 plaques along the Honour Avenues in Kings Park. If you are trying to locate a particular dedication plaque, you can search the database online.
Each plaque is inscribed with the name of the deceased; unit and rank; age, date and manner of death; and who dedicated the plaque.
Photographs of each plaque are included on the database, in addition to a location map and opportunities for further research through service numbers. Visitors can see the individual plaques in situ using 'Street View' or find their way using Google maps when planning a visit to Kings Park.
Most of the names listed on the Honour Avenue plaques are also represented on the State War Memorial.
Plaques are added to Kings Park's Honour Avenues during regular dedication services held at May Circle (the site of the initial dedication in 1919).
The most recent dedication service was held on 15 February 2020 and was officiated by Alan Barrett, Executive Director of BGPA and Robin Slater, President Highgate RSL Sub Branch.
History of Honour Avenues
The planting of trees as a dedication to individual service personnel who gave their lives while serving their countries in time of war seems to be an Australian innovation.
This unique practice originated in 1917 in Ballarat, Victoria. Mrs Tilly Thompson proposed to raise funds to plant an 'avenue of trees' to honour the local men who had been killed in World War I. By 1919, there were 3,912 trees planted along 22.4 kms of the Western Highway. In all, at least 128 avenues were planted in Victoria between 1917 and 1921 - virtually every one a community effort.
The idea was taken up in Kings Park, Western Australia by Mr Arthur Lovekin, an original member of the Kings Park Board. The first Honour Avenue was dedicated to 404 fallen soldiers in August 1919 on the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.
Kings Park now has three tree-lined avenues set aside to honour service personnel who died in the two World Wars and other engagements.
May Drive was opened on 23 July 1901 by Princess May, Duchess of Cornwall and York, later Queen Mary. May Drive became the first Honour Avenue in Kings Park and Botanic Garden in 1919. Relatives and friends of men and women who died during World War I (1914-1918) planted 400 oak and plane trees during a planting ceremony. The oak trees had been raised from acorns supplied by Her Majesty from Windsor Castle in 1914.
A message from Queen Mary was read to those assembled at the dedication. Her words were,
'May these oak trees grow and flourish for many years, and stand as a reminder to generations to come of the devotion and loyalty of those brave sons of the Empire who gave their lives in the cause of justice, freedom and right' (Queen Mary, 1919).
When the trees failed to prosper, they were replanted with Bangalay (Eucalyptus botryoides) in the 1940s. Today, there is one oak left standing - at the corner of May and Lovekin Drives, adjacent to the Forrest statue.
Lovekin Drive, named in 1931, commemorates Arthur Lovekin, second President of the Kings Park Board and the man responsible for the initiation of the Honour Avenues.
After World War II many requests for trees were received for dedication to servicemen who died in that war and the Kings Park Board asked the Returned and Services League to arrange a dedication ceremony for the remaining 300 sugar gums (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) in Lovekin Avenue. Lovekin Drive was dedicated on 5 December 1948.
The most recent addition to the Honour Avenues is Marri Walk, a roadway adjacent to western boundary of Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park on May Drive, that leads to the Royal Kings Park Tennis Club.
Marri Walk was dedicated on 18 April 1999 and honours the fallen of World War I, World War II and other engagements.
Honour Avenues Group
The plaques have been carefully maintained by the RSL Highgate Honour Avenues Group on behalf of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority since 1922.
Further information, such as how to dedicate a new plaque, is available from the Honour Avenues Group.