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Coalfields Museum’s wall of former Avenue of Honour plaques and Collie’s Soldiers Park

Coalfields Museum’s wall of former Avenue of Honour plaques and Collie’s Soldiers Park

Coalfields Museum Collie
161 Throssell Street
Collie WA, 6225

Collie Soldiers Park
Corner Steere Street and Johnston Street, Collie WA 6225

On 15 May 1921 the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Francis Newdegate, planted a tree to inaugurate an Avenue of Honour. Each planting was accompanied by a plaque recording the briefest account of the life and sacrifice of a soldier from Collie. In time the trees aged and were removed.  The plaques now hang together in the Collie Coalfields Museum as a memorial wall.

The original trees, planted in 1921 as Collies’s plans for other Great War memorials developed, were removed after they reached maturity and were not replaced.  Foundations for a tall granite monument were unveiled by Sir Frances Newdegate as part of a long and complex ceremony and the completed monument was dedicated in September of the same year.

Soldiers Park retains its obelisk, the base of which carried the names of those who were killed in the First and Second World Wars. It stands in a well-tended rose garden in which there are memorials to Australia’s Indigenous people who have perished in conflicts; to the first Australian soldier to die in the Korean War; and to Sergeant Martin O’Meara, who won the Victoria Cross at Pozières. O’Meara died on 20 December 1935, having spent all of his life after the war in a psychiatric hospital.

The substantial gateway to the park formed a dual function, but was the subject of occasional controversy. Even before it was built and after more than a decade of discussion, the Collie Times of Ist May 1930 reported that: 

It was hoped to have the Commemorative Arch and Gates ready for the Anzac Day service in April 1930, but the two stone masons sent from Perth by the contractor had been Bulgarians, and as Mayor Jackson explained at the 25 April service, 'it would not have done to have employed foreigners of enemy nationality upon such a work as this, so they were returned to Perth' … Two 'Britishers' were then secured but they proved so slow they were paid off, and two more worked well for a week before being called back to Perth, but fortunately one decided to stay and complete the work.

Those visiting the park can see, above the arched entrance, words that note Western Australia’s centenary of the foundation of the colony. People leaving the park through the same arched exit read the words ‘Soldiers Park’.

References

Coalfield Museum Collie
http://www.collierivervalley.com.au/collie-visitor-centre/coalfields-museum/

Heritage Assessment of the Soldier’s Park Precinct http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/Public/Content/PdfLoader.aspx?id=7cd32e94-fbc7-48c8-9000-5fe0e0d72c6d&type=assessment

Soldiers Memorial Park
http://www.collierivervalley.com.au/collie-visitor-centre/soldiers-memorial-park/   

Monument Australia                
http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww1/display/20831-collie-and-district-soldiers-memorial

Thanks to volunteers at the Collie Coalfields Museum and especially Kaye Maverick.

Further Information

Coalfields Museum Collie
161 Throssell Street
Collie WA 6225

Website: http://www.collierivervalley.com.au/collie-visitor-centre/coalfields-museum/

Phone: (08) 9734 1299

Collie Visitor Information Centre
Throssell Street
Collie, WA 6225

Website: http://www.collierivervalley.com.au/collie-visitor-centre/

Phone: (08) 9734 2051