IN 1922, the grateful community of Poowong erected a town cenotaph to honour the servicemen and women that didn’t return home from the Great War.
It was placed, pride of place, in the centre of town and was unveiled by Brigadier General Elliott on March 4, 1922.
However, as the town grew, and then shrank – becoming more of a thoroughfare as trucks made their way from Korumburra to Warragul, the location of the cenotaph became more and more inappropriate.
It is now very close to the road and Poowong’s roundabout.
People wishing to pay their respects are forced onto the road, and during Anzac Day commemorations, the crowd cannot be contained in the nearby garden, spilling out onto the main road.
Additionally, an inspection for restoration and cleaning of the Harcourt granite monument found the base is unstable and a lean is starting to develop.
“In 1922 the present position of the cenotaph was in a much quieter area than it is today,” Poowong Community Consultative Committee (PCCC) member Irene Adams said.
“Part of the reason for its instability could be the building of the roundabout some time later which took the traffic much closer to the cenotaph and over the years the traffic flow has greatly increased, as has the size of many of the vehicles.”
Trucks already drive over a significant section of the roundabout in order to avoid the cenotaph.
Correspondence between VicRoads and Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien indicated an upgrade of Poowong’s roundabout could be expected in five to 10 years, and if still standing, the cenotaph would have to be moved.
Mrs Adams said the PCCC had identified that moving the cenotaph just 20 to 30m west of its present position would be a possible solution.
“Moving west of its present position will keep it well clear of the roundabout and any works that may be done there.
“The new site is still in a prominent position and it will also be much safer to hold Remembrance Services there.”
However, quotes for the repair and relocation of the cenotaph far outstrip PCCC’s resources.
Final quotes are in the order of $36,000.
The maximum amount available from the Victorian Government for restoration of War Memorials and Cenotaphs is $20,000.
“It is a difference of $16,000 which the PCCC unfortunately cannot supply,” Mrs Adams said.
“As I am led to believe that this cenotaph is a shire asset, I request support for this project to enable us to reapply for the grant and to make up the remaining $16,000.”
Councillors listened to Mrs Adams request, noting VicRoads could be requested to stump up some of the funding, if it indeed was the roundabout’s influence that had contributed to the deterioration of the cenotaph.
Council is due to discuss its second round of 2015/16 community grants at its Wednesday, June 22 meeting.
Cenotaph needs a safer home