Beerburrum, off Steve Irwin Way, was the first and largest of about 24 soldier settlements established in Queensland to help returned soldiers re-enter civilian life as farmers.
The Governor’s wife Lady Goold-Adams drew the first land ballot on 6 November 1916. More than 21,000 hectares of farming land was made available for pineapple growing, other horticulture, bee-keeping and poultry.
Over the course of the scheme, which ran until 1929, about 400 soldiers and their families tried their luck farming at Beerburrum. Poor soil and low prices made it financially tough for the former diggers. By 1929, only 69 soldier settlers remained.
In May 1920, General Sir William Birdwood, described by some historians as ‘the soul of ANZAC’, planted a camphor laurel tree in what he named ANZAC Avenue. School children planted more trees to create an avenue, in time for a visit to the settlement by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in August that year.
Unlike other memorial avenues in which a tree symbolised a specific fallen soldier (often bearing a name plate), Beerburrum’s trees were in memory of ‘lost mates’.
Today, only 13 trees from the WWI memorial survive.