Victoria’s Great Ocean Road may be Australia’s best known WWI repatriation project but Brisbane families enjoy another year-round: Kalinga Park’s unofficial ‘Diggers Drive’.
In May 1924, Governor Sir Matthew Nathan opened a 1,200 metre tree-lined roadway from war memorial gates in Park Avenue, following the curve of Kedron Brook, to Sandgate Road.
The road was built and trees planted by 83 unemployed soldiers. After WWI, Australia was awash with grief for its 60,000 dead fighters. Many more returned nursing injuries and needing re-employment. While the Commonwealth Department of Repatriation placed returning soldiers in jobs, progress was slow: community groups like Kalinga Unemployed and Distressed Soldiers Committee formed to provide relief and work. Diggers Drive was its project, commencing in 1922.
Kalinga Park had opened in 1910. In October 1920, memorial gates at the Park Avenue entrance were erected as an everlasting memory of the patriotic services of men who enlisted from Kalinga District. The gates were a venture between the local Ladies Patriotic Club, Kalinga Progress Association and Toombul Shire Council. For a time, the park was even called ANZAC Memorial Park.
Now a popular outdoor play space, it served as a large army staging camp during WWII.
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