Almost 4,000 men and women from the Ballarat district enlisted for World War I. Of this number, 528 (or 1 in every 8) were killed in action or died of wounds.
In 1917, a suggestion was made to plant an avenue of trees in honour of all those who served. The 500 women from the local textile company, E. Lucas & Co, agreed to raise money for the project and to plant the trees. The first planting took place on the King's birthday, June 4th 1917, and the avenue was completed in August 1919.
The Arch of Victory, which provides a splendid entrance to the Avenue of Honour, was opened by the then Prince of Wales (later Henry VIII) on 2 June 1920.
The Avenue of Honour, at 23kms in length and containing 3,801 trees, is the longest of its type in the world. It provides a living memorial to those 3,710 soldiers, 35 sailors and 56 nurses who served in World War I. Each tree is accompanied by a plaque carrying a tree number and name of the individual in approximate order of their enlistment, taking an egalitarian approach without consideration of rank.
Volunteers used over 35 different tree species, varieties or cultivars to plant the avenue but it now comprises mostly exotic elms, poplars and oaks.
The Arch of Victory also honours all those from the district who served Australia during World War 2 and in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam.
The Arch of Victory and the Avenue of Honour do not glorify war but honour those who served to ensure that we live in peace.