Near central Melbourne we have The Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial built to remember those who fell during World War I. It has now come to represent all those who have fallen defending our country and is affectionately and simply known as the Shrine.
This instantly recognizable building is the central focus of our yearly ANZAC day dawn service (25th April) and Remembrance Day (11th November) services and holds a special place in the heart of many Melbournians.*
In the grounds of the Shrine, called King’s Domain, there are various kinds of memorials to different aspects of war. One of these is the Lone Pine.
During the Battle of Lone Pine, one of the bloodiest battles of the Gallipoli peninsula, during which thousands of Turks and Australians died, the one remaining pine tree on the ridge was blown apart.
Cones from this tree were bought back from the battlefield by soldiers who fought there, and later a seedling raised from the one bought back by Sergeant McDowell of the 23rd Battalion was planted in the grounds of the Shrine in 1933 in memory of that terrible battle.
Sadly, the news comes that arborists have decided that, due to disease, Melbourne’s Lone Pine is at the end of its days and it will be removed next week. It is sad news for that tree, but the memorial will continue. A new tree will be planted in its place, one of its own offspring cultivated years ago, no doubt for this very purpose. Not only that, the wood from the tree will be recycled for use within the Shrine itself. (ABC News)
*If you look at the wikipedia entry for the Shrine you will see just how special it was historically. Under the ‘construction and dedication’ heading there is a small aerial photo taken at the time of the dedication ceremony in 1934. The caption reports that 300,000 people attended. That was one-third of Melbourne’s population at the time.