ANZAC Day Plants & The Stories Behind Them
No doubt many of us living at the Southern end of the Gold Coast, in particular those who are familiar with Elephant Rock at Currumbin, may have already noticed that since the evening of April 17th, the rock has again been adorned in a cascade of hand made poppies made by local Gold Coast primary and high school students.
The installation, Swell Poppy Art Project, made its debut in 2015 to coincide as a backdrop for the Currumbin RSL’s dawn service, and was commissioned by local environmental artists Lynne Adams and Tony Butler who have again worked with the students to re-create the emotive floral tribute to honour Australia’s servicemen and women. The installation uses a donation of 10,000 recycled bottles and 5,000 lids from Visy and the shark netting from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. No flora or fauna was to be damaged and it was to create as little impact as possible. It takes the top half of two bottles to make each poppy.
Swell Sculpture Festival Curator and Director Natasha Edwards said “The project highlights themes of conflict, environment and community, with its placement on the Rock of Remembrance clearly signifying the issues of remembrance that capture the hearts of Australians on Anzac day.” Ms Edwards went on to say . . . “ as we commemorate Anzac day through this project, we also reflect on other issues that remain relevant to this day, such as how we are ensuring the sustainability of our environment for future generations, and the endearing importance of community ties.”
Another plant used to commemorate Anzac day is the aromatic herb Rosemary; believed in ancient times to improve memory, as a symbol of remembrance it is often found pinned to a lapel or laid in respect in wreaths at Anzac day memorials, it also features on the Anzac Commemorative Medallion. As Rosemary was found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula, it is no wonder it also has special significance for Australians, and can be found handed out by Legacy and the RSL in support of the fallen, as well as active defense force men and women and their families.
While many Australians on April 25th, will focus on the poppy or wear a spring of Rosemary as a symbol of remembrance, for others familiar with the battle of Gallipoli, it is the image of one solitary Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), which has also become synonymous with Anzac day, and for very good reason.
When the 1st Australian Infantry Division launched a major offensive at Plateau 400 on Gallipoli on August 6, 1915, the ridges once covered with Aleppo pines, was cleared to provide cover for the Turkish trenches. Only one pine remained, and from then on the area was known as Lone Pine Ridge. It took three days of fighting before the Anzacs were successful in conquering the enemy trenches but not before some 2000 Australians and 7000 Turks lost their lives in the bloody battle.
In remembrance of his brother Mark who had died in the fighting, after the battle, Lance Corporal Benjamin Charles Smith, 3rd battalion, AIF collected some of the pine cones from branches covering the trenches and sent them home to his mother Jane McMullin. After planting some of the seeds in Inverell in tribute, she then presented some of theses seeds to the Australian War Memorial to also be planted in honour of others who fell at Lone Pine.
This year to commemorate Anzac day in conjunction with Yarralumla Nursery in Canberra, the Australian War Memorial has a range of Lone Pine seedlings available for purchase. All seedlings have been propagated by the nursery from seeds collected from the Lone Pine tree at the memorial.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.”
– Robert Laurence Binyon (1869 – 1943)
For more information:
- Lone Pine seedlings and the Australian War Memorial: Australian War Memorial
- ANZAC day events throughout the Gold Coast: More Gold Coast
- The Battle of Lone Pine ANZAC Centenary Page of the Queensland Government