Rothwell to North Lakes Walk – 28 May 2017

Starting at Rothwell Train Station, the walk followed McKillop Street to the roundabout with Warbrick Way. Warbrick Way was then followed to Tacoma Park and the pathway followed paralleling Anzac Avenue to Finnegan Street. Finnegan Street was then followed to Anzac Avenue, where AnzacAvenue was crossed to the Rothwell Monument, commemorating the creation of “Anzac Memorial Avenue” by Thomas Rothwell.

According to Wikipedia:

Thomas James Rothwell, President of the RACQ from 1921 to 1923, was the key protagonist in establishing the Petrie to Redcliffe Anzac Memorial Avenue. From 1914, the RACQ allied itself to the war time effort, raising funds and holding numerous benefits. Rothwell, a successful men’s outfitter in Brisbane, was actively involved in such causes. During the war, he was secretary of the Queensland Patriotic Fund and coordinator of the Returned Soldiers Transport Corps, eventually awarded an OBE for his services.[1]

Rothwell’s initial impetus in advocating for the road came from a referral of the Brisbane Motor Traders Association, who “desired one good road in the vicinity of Brisbane”, for motor touring purposes. This push also coincided with the Returned Services League’s public appeal of “Work Not Charity” in support of the large number of ex-soldiers unemployed at the time. Rothwell saw the opportunity for these causes to coalesce, by constructing a good road for motorists that would provide employment to returned servicemen. Planting an avenue of trees along such a road would also create a significant Queensland war memorial.[1]

The gazettal of the Brisbane-Gympie Rd between Kedron and Petrie as a main road informed the decision to choose the Petrie-Redcliffe road for Rothwell’s proposal. By designating the Petrie-Redcliffe route as a main road, Brisbane motorists would gain a high quality motoring road from the city to a seaside resort, while reducing Redcliffe’s isolation.[1]

On 21 June 1922, the RACQ presented the case for the road to Harry Coyne, the Queensland Minister for Lands. Coyne agreed the road would likely be gazetted as a main road on the undertaking that non-government capital would be raised to begin its initial construction, while also suggesting the name of “Anzac Memorial Avenue”. The Anzac Avenue Memorial Committee was established with Rothwell as chairman. A fundraising figure of £20,000 was set. This amount would provide for the wages of ex-servicemen employed on the road, while the Main Roads Board would bear the cost of construction materials.[1]

Publicity for the fundraising appeal for the Anzac Memorial Avenue appeared in the Brisbane press on 1 July with the rationale for supporting the proposal:[1]

“Every motorist is interested in this scheme. It is surely worth at least 5 pounds to a motorist to have one good road. Every business man is interested. It is surely worth a good deal to relieve the labour market of its unemployed. Every citizen is interested. It is surely worth something to you to have a Memorial Avenue that will at once connect one of Brisbane’s beauty spots and commemorate for all time the valour of our soldiers.”

As part of the public fundraising effort, a progress board was erected outside the premises of the Commonwealth Bank in Queen Street, Brisbane. A figure of a car moved forward in increments of 1000, towards the end goal of £20,000. 8 August was proclaimed as “Anzac Avenue Badge Day” with car badges sold to raise funds. Other events included social functions at Redcliffe. By December 1922, £7000 had been pledged by public subscription.[1]

The target of £20,000 received a significant boost through government funding. In July 1922, the Australian Government, announced a National Main Roads Policy, allocating money to the state’s road building schemes on a 4/8 federal, 3/8 state, and 1/8 local government funding arrangement. The objective of the policy was to “develop and open up the country, and promote land settlement, and aid temporarily unemployed soldiers”.[1]

Through this funding, the Redcliffe road was allocated £12,000, a larger proportion of funding than any other of the first roads built under this funding agreement in Queensland. The combined public fundraising (£7000) and government contributions (£12,000) meant that within six months of the appeal’s inception, the goal of £20,000 pounds was close to being realised. Of the £7000 subscribed, a final amount of £6290 had been received by 1926, with the Main Roads Board making up the difference.[1]

The route was officially gazetted as the “Redcliffe Road” on 21 October 1922. Anzac Memorial Avenue was one of the earliest examples of Main Roads Boards’ involvement in facilitating car-driven tourism in Queensland. The Board promoted Anzac Memorial Avenue for its dual purpose, as a road to a seaside resort that offered health benefits from a change of climate and scenic beauty, while providing developmental opportunities for the area. Until improvements to the South Coast and North Coast roads, Anzac Memorial Avenue was the premier road to a tourist resort from Brisbane.[1]

By December 1922, 25 returned servicemen had begun work on the road. By March 1923, this number had increased to 50. A number were engaged in clearing the road and undertaking associated earth works. Others were constructing reinforced concrete culverts and the bridge over Hayes Inlet, cutting and bending steel for the reinforcing bars and preparing timber for form work. Eleven men were working at the quarry within the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement to source road materials.[1]

The importance of the avenue was underscored by the decision to seal the road. In the early 1920s, few roads throughout Queensland were sealed, especially outside of urban areas. Different materials were trialled by Main Roads to determine their suitability as a top metal surface to dress with tar and bitumen. Anzac Memorial Avenue featured the use of trachyte, a fine grained igneous volcanic rock sourced from the Beerburrum quarry.[1]

Work included constructing culverts to cross over Hays Inlet and Saltwater Creek, and associated earthworks to provide a stable base for the roadway in the often low-lying areas that the route passed through.

In early 1923, Pine Rivers Shire Council and Redcliffe Town Council were granted control of the road’s construction in their respective areas. Main Roads maintained responsibility for dressing the top surface with tar and bitumen, this process occurring through 1924 and 1925.[1]

Anzac Memorial Avenue was officially opened for traffic on 5 December 1925 by the acting Premier William Forgan Smith. A floral arch was erected in Petrie for the occasion, with the Mayor of Redcliffe, J.B. Dunn and Pine Shire Chairman, W Bradley, providing welcome speeches and thanking the government for its assistance. The party, in a long procession of cars, continued on to Redcliffe which was “en fete” for the occasion. The avenue was proclaimed as the best road to a tourist resort yet conducted in Queensland.[1]

In the week the road was opened, Rothwell wrote to the Brisbane Courier to draw attention to the tree-planting aspect of the memorial avenue. Rothwell noted the road was already utilised by hundreds of motorists on Sundays and public holidays. He called on the public to assist financially in making the road an avenue from Kedron Brook in Brisbane to Redcliffe, “a glorious asset to the State of Queensland”. The first plantings were to be concentrated on the Anzac Memorial Avenue section between Redcliffe and Petrie.[1]

The tree planting operations came more into focus in 1925 as the road works neared completion. An Anzac Avenue Memorial Tree Planting Committee had been established by early 1923. In December 1925, the committee comprised Rothwell, Ernest Walter Bick (curator of Brisbane Botanic Gardens), Edward Swain (Queensland Director of Forestry), Cyril Tenison White (Queensland Government Botanist), Henry John Moore (park superintendent of the Brisbane City Council) and Colonel DA Parsons (representing the Queensland Governor Matthew Nathan). The committee considered the types of trees that would be suitable and an estimate of the number of trees that would be required. Placing the trees 60ft apart, it was estimated 1760 trees were needed for each ten miles of the avenue and the cost of planting the trees, preparing the ground and making suitable guards would be less than £1 per tree. The committee selected a mixture of native and introduced sub-tropical species for the avenue.[1]

The inaugural planting occurred at Petrie on February 28 1925. Two Cocos palms (Arecastrum romanzooffianum) were planted at the front of the North Pine School of Arts in Petrie, by Governor Nathan. The trees were donated by Elizabeth Petrie, widow of local pioneer Tom Petrie. The palms were sourced from the extensive gardens of their nearby property “Murrumba“.[1]

During the ceremony, Rothwell discussed particulars of the tree-planting operations. Approximately £5000 was needed for planting trees along the avenue between Redcliffe and Kedron, “but for that purpose only £50 was in hand”. Donors of trees would receive a certificate for their contribution. For a further small donation, a plaque could be attached on or near the tree with the donor’s name or the name of the soldier in whose memory the tree was planted. Mrs Petrie was presented with the certificate for tree No.1, a firewheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus) planted on the corner of Anzac Memorial Avenue and White’s Road, opposite the School of Arts. This tree has not survived.[1]

On July 7 1926, Rothwell and the president of the RACQ Mr JE Carter, led a motorcade of guests from Brisbane for the official opening of Anzac Memorial Avenue, marked by a tree planting ceremony in Redcliffe. About 1000 invited guests, along with the general public, braved inclement weather to attend the ceremony.[1]

The Australian Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven planted the first tree, a Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) on the northern side of the Avenue, at the Humbybong Street corner. Granting local school children a holiday, Stonehaven hoped they would be “guardians of the trees” realising that they are guarding not only a Queensland memorial, but one that will be recognised throughout Australia. Lady Stonehaven, William Jolly (Mayor of Brisbane), JB Dunn, W Bradley and Mr Fraser East, President of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia also planted trees.[1]

Rothwell’s speech highlighted the need for contributions, especially from the motoring public, to make the tree-lined avenue a reality. Rothwell also announced that the Memorial Committee had decided not to offer individual plate names to be associated with particular trees as the Avenue was considered a memorial for all the soldiers and sailors who had lost their lives, especially to commemorate “the deeds of valour performed by the heroes who went from our state”.[1]

By mid-1927, 1000 trees had been planted, encased in triangular wooden guards. The scale of the project provided challenges for the tree planting committee. While 2000 had been planted by 1933, unsuitable species and soil conditions, bushfires, human and animal impacts, borers and white ants, had damaged and destroyed some of the original plantings. With assistance from Main Roads, the committee were employing a man “with expert knowledge” to look after the trees. By this time, a shortage of funds meant the committee were unable to extend the planting scheme from Petrie to Kedron as proposed originally. Nevertheless, the avenue was still the largest of its kind in the state, made possible through public and private involvement.[1]

Thomas Rothwell died on 28 January 1928[4] and his involvement with the Avenue was honoured on Sunday 9 April 1933 with the unveiling of the Rothwell monument by the Queensland governor, Sir Leslie Wilson. This stone obelisk was placed on a small triangular piece of land at the intersection of Anzac Memorial Avenue and the Deception Bay Road, later moving to a nearby park (27.2173°S 153.0451°E) when a roundabout was placed on the site. Rothwell bequeathed the substantial sum of £1000 to the tree planting committee, which was acknowledged at the unveiling as having maintained the project.[1][5][6]

From this monument, the walk traversed Rothwell Park, the home of the Redcliffe Tigers AFL Club to McGahey Street. McGahey Street was then followed to its end at a fence separating it from Waterlily Court. After negotiating the fence, Waterlilly Court was followed to a bush track at the other end and this track was followed as it traversed the ends of Greene Street, Jones Street and came out to a bike path at the end of Varuna Court. This bike path was followed along the edge of the Higgs Street Environmental Reserve and a lake as it paralleled Saltwater Creek.

The bike path was then followed to the end of Webster Road. From this point the walk traversed the reserve on which the Deception Bay Junior Rugby League is located. Once this reserve was traversed, the bike path at the end of Government Street was picked up and Saltwater Creek followed again. The bike path was followed all the way out to Lipscombe Road and then a left turn to cross Saltwater Creek and then walk along North Ridge Circuit.

After crossing a small creek, the easement behind the houses on the left was followed around as it went around the North Ridge Estate, to again pick up North Ridge Circuit and then follow a bush track out to the lake on Bounty Boulevarde.

IMG_1008

From this point a return was made to Rothwell Station following a bush track which provided a short cut back to the other side of Saltwater Creek.

The walk map is at Gavins MapMyWalk site.

Walk length about 12 km. Minimum elevation – 2 metres, maximum elevation – 19 metres. A gain of 66 metres was achieved with an average pace of 17 mins/km.

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