In August 1918, 250 trees were planted by the local community to commemorate the World War I service of men and women associated with the former Shire of Creswick. Future plantings over the following year took the Avenue to 286 trees. Enamel name plaques were secured to wooden tree guards protecting the young trees.
Kingston, as the geographical centre of the region, was chosen as the location of the Creswick Shire Avenue of Honour. At that time Kingston housed the Shire Offices. Of the 286 trees, nine commemorate women who served as nurses, and five remain unnamed.
The Avenue trees are predominantly Dutch Elms. Apart from replacing six trees, the Avenue is still intact. The elms within the township are not part of the Avenue itself; they were planted by the school community in 1919.
The Avenue of Honour starts at Victoria Road on the northern edge of Kingston and runs approximately 2.9 km south towards the Midland Highway.
During the intervening years, the Avenue was left in the hands of nature. Cattle and sheep were allowed to graze in and around the trees. Infrastructure, such as power and water, was installed, damaging the tree roots and creating an opportunity for suckers to take hold.
In 1999 the Kingston Friends of the Avenue group was formed. Its mission was to restore and preserve the avenue through fundraising events, grant submissions and attracting donations. Working bees were organised within the community to clear suckers and collect the plaques that had broken. These were then repaired or replaced and returned to the trees.
In the year 2000, a plaque and obelisk were installed in the avenue and unveiled. The obelisk carries the names of those represented in the avenue, with the exception of the five that remain unknown. The original obelisk became illegible and was replaced in 2017.
Arborist Shane Jeffrey developed a management plan based on research undertaken by volunteer arborists. This report was presented to the Hepburn Shire Council in 2002.
The original Friends of the Avenue dissolved in 2000, however it became clear that a group dedicated to preserving the avenue was needed and the Friends of the Avenue was reformed in 2014 and has been building ever since.
The present state of the Avenue of Honour has come about due primarily to the hard work and dedication of a small number of people, who give freely of their time, energy and expertise.
Kingston Friends of the Avenue formed in 1999 as a sub committee of the Kingston Community Recreation Centre. It became an incorporated body in 2014 and works closely with the community and the Hepburn Shire Council.
Kingston Friends of the Avenue cares for the trees and their history. Activities involved include:
In 2014, as a further acknowledgement to the nurses who served in the Great War, the nine trees dedicated to the nurses were adorned with large red bows. The descendants of these nurses accompanied by members of the Friends of the Avenue, placed the bows on the trees.
In recognition of its importance to the community and Australia’s legacy the Kingston Avenue of Honour was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
In 2017, the Hepburn Shire installed new signage heralding the towns and significant sites within the Shire. The Kingston Avenue of Honour was deemed to be such a site and through collaboration with the Shire and the Friends of the Avenue, the eye-catching stone and timber signage was placed at each end of the Avenue.
As a further indication of the community commitment to the Avenue of Honour, funds obtained from the sale of the old Kingston Hall were used to purchase the stone used in the signs.