Roma War Memorial
Roma’s principal war memorial is represented by the Roma War Memorial Heroes Avenue and is located along Wyndham and Bungil Streets, Roma, comprising an avenue of memorial trees, a memorial cairn and a cenotaph. In total, there are more than ninety individual trees making up this memorial avenue, with all being bottle trees. The memorial cairn is located outside the Roma post office, being a white painted concrete pillar with a large chamfer on the top. This chamfered face displays a bronze plaque with the names of the 93 local men who lost their lives during the First World War. These names were originally located on plaques which were attached to each tree.
The impetus for the Roma Heroes Avenue began with the Mayor of Roma, Alderman Miscamble who was influenced by similar memorial avenues he had seen in the other Australian states. The bottle tree was then selected as it was a species that was commonly associated with the Roma area. It is believed that the first planting took place in 1918 to commemorate the death of a local soldier, Norman Saunders, who had been killed in France in 1916. This first tree is located in the vicinity of the Roma post office and is said to be known locally as the “Tree of Knowledge”. Trees were then planted to commemorate subsequent deaths with the majority planted in two phases. Most trees however were planted by 1920. Only one of the original plaques, attached to each tree when planted, now survives. However, despite these original plaques having been lost over the years, each tree still retains its particular association with a local soldier.
This image, dating from the late 1950s shows the view along Wyndham Street, with the lines of memorial trees dominating the streetscape. As mentioned previously, the bottle tree was closely associated with the Roma area and the image below, dating from around 1877, shows an old bottle tree in the former Roma Recreation Reserve. This tree, based on its size, would have been very old when this photograph was taken and would, no doubt, have been a familiar feature in the area, making the choice of bottle trees for the memorial avenue, suitable and relevant.