A total of 3,771 trees were originally planted in the Avenue between June 1917 and August 1919 – one for each soldier, sailor and nurse from the district who served during the First World War. Original criteria for inclusion in the Avenue was a person to have enlisted and resided in the City of Ballaarat or Township of Ballaarat East, although this was later towards the end of the war to include the names of those who enlisted interstate and overseas.
The trees were named and numbered, as close as was possible at the time, in the order of enlistment from the Ballarat end, odd numbers on the south side and even numbers on the north. Only exotic deciduous species were used, mostly Elms, Oaks, Poplars and Ash. In 1934 the Bronze Memorial Plaques were added to the Avenue and located at the base of the trees. Each plaque contains a name, battalion and tree number.
The trees were numbered consecutively from 1 to 3,912 with the exception of two gaps – 1,242 to 1,344 and 1,490 to 1,552 inclusive. These numbers were left to accommodate, if necessary, those who had trees in the ‘Ballaarat East Avenue of Honour’, planted along the Ballarat-Melbourne Road on the other side of the City.
This Avenue did founder and those service personnel were allocated trees in the Avenue of Honour, but different numbers were used rather than those reserved. Another anomaly in the numbering system is the use of ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ appended to 23 trees/plaques. The “extra” 30 trees planted in 2003 have plaque numbers 3913 to 3942. Unfortunately with the passing of time many of the bronze plaques located at the base of the trees have become damaged or lost.
The Memorial Wall and Rotunda adjacent to the Arch help to overcome this problem by providing a full list, in chronological and alphabetical order respectively, of the service men and women honoured in the Avenue. Restoration of damaged plaques and replacement of lost plaques at the base of the trees is an ongoing project overseen by the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee.