A FORGOTTEN and neglected war memorial for Ballarat’s orphans is set to receive the recognition it deserves.
The Kenny Memorial Avenue, opened in 1917, was created in Ballarat East to honour more than 100 residents of the Ballarat Orphanage who enlisted to fight in World War I.
However, it has been all but forgotten for decades, with very few people in Ballarat even aware of its existence.
Now a push is on to see it restored to properly honour those who fought for Australia.
Driven by Conservation Volunteers Australian and Child and Family Services, the project will see new signs installed at the avenue to properly recognise its significance to Ballarat. Of the 103 who enlisted, exactly 100 orphan residents went overseas between 1914 and 1918. Twenty of them died in service.
CVA heritage and research officer Roger Southern said the idea to restore the avenue was spawned when its history emerged.
“We had people say it is Ballarat’s best kept secret and they couldn’t believe other people didn’t know about it,” said Mr Southern. “It’s quite an emotional issue for a broad number of people. It’s so interesting and something that should really be recognised.”
Melbourne-based historian Frank Golding, a former resident of Ballarat, researched the history of the avenue and all those who were honoured.
The avenue, which runs adjacent to the Mt Xavier Golf Club, is often used by mountain bike riders and walkers. Some of the trees that were originally planted in honour of servicemen remain, but most have been removed or fallen down and remain lying on the ground.
CAFS heritage co-ordinator Sharon Guy said works to restore the avenue had been in planning since April. The re-discovery ceremony will be held on November 9 and will be opened by Victorian Veterans Council chairman Major General Peter Haddad.
“To think they did have an avenue, but it was just forgotten about and neglected, is a bit sad really,” Ms Guy said. The project has received support from City of Ballarat and Ballarat Historical Society and commemorative plaques made from original trees will be stored in the Ballarat CAFS office.