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Grief-stricken tribute recognised

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April 25, 2017

The Calder Woodburn Avenue in Kialla features in an exhibition of photographs at the Franco-Australian Museum, Villers-Bretonneux, France in April 2017 in time for Anzac Day.

The Calder Woodburn Memorial Avenue in Kialla is featured in an exhibition of photographs by Sarah Wood at the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, France, this month.

Thousands of people drive past the avenue off the Goulburn Valley Hwy south of Shepparton every day, but not many know the series of native trees were planted in honour of fallen soldiers.

In total, 2457 trees were planted along the 20km avenue from Kialla West to Moorilim by one man, Arcadia’s Fen Woodburn, after the death of his son, airman Calder Woodburn, in World War II.

He planted each seedling, provided thousands of dollars in financial capital to drive the project and also made sure he selected native trees for the project, which took four years to complete.

Calder Woodburn worked on the family farm at Arcadia and enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1940.

He achieved the rank of sergeant and was posted to the 455 squadron in England.

His unit took on operations against the Germans by laying mines along the coastline. He failed to return from one such mission in April 1942.

Grieving the loss of his son, Mr Woodburn started his labour of love and contacted the authority of the Country Roads Board and Forests Commission to take on the task in 1943.

The first 150 trees were planted in 1945 and by August 1947 he had planted a total of 1406 trees.

Mr Woodburn planted a further 638 trees, before planting 500 trees towards Violet Town-Murchison Rd. The Calder Woodburn Memorial Avenue is recognised as a remarkable individual achievement by the Australian Heritage Council because other notable avenues such as the Ballarat Avenue of Honour were planted by large community groups.

The avenue was entered onto the register of the National Estate by the Australian Heritage Council on July 31, 1998.

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