||Memorial Trees were planted in the main street of the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement in 1920 and the street renamed Anzac Avenue in honour of the fallen comrades of the soldier settlers. This occurred in conjunction with the widening and metalling of the roadway due to building development on the southern side of the street.
As early as 1915 the Queensland government was looking for vacant land suitable for settlement by returned soldiers. The Department of Lands stated that Queensland's vast areas of crown land and varying climates provided more opportunities than any other State for the settling of returned soldiers, both Australian and British. It was envisaged that the land would be suitable for lighter farming activities such as fruit and vegetable growing, poultry-raising and bee-keeping.
The first land chosen for soldier settlement in Queensland was 53,000 acres (21,448.34 hectares) near the Beerburrum railway siding on the North Coast line. This mostly dry sclerophyll forest and wallum heathland had been leased to the Federal government in 1910 as a military reserve for 30 years at a peppercorn rent. From 1913 the Federal government paid an annual rent of £1 subject to the right of resumption by the State if required for State purposes. In 1916 the area was returned to the State government for soldier settlement. The area eventually opened for this purpose stretched from Beerburrum to Glass House Mountains in the north, southwards to Elimbah and eastwards to Pumicestone Passage. Beerburrum Soldier Settlement was first and largest of the approximately two dozen Soldier Settlements established in Queensland. Over the course of the scheme (1916-1929) approximately 2,500 returned soldiers were settled on the land in Queensland, including at least 400 at Beerburrum.
Work began immediately on analysis and surveying of the land. Beerburrum was chosen as the centre of the soldier settlement because of satisfactory soil tests, water availability and the existing railway siding. Surveyor Muntz was given the task of dividing this large area into portions of suitable land varying in size from approximately 20 to 40 acres. To ensure that each settler received a fertile selection, the surveyor was to mark his boundaries so that each portion would be equally productive. By November 1916, 11,600 acres had been surveyed into 310 portions. Joseph Rose, an experienced pineapple farmer, was placed in charge of the settlement. An experimental State training farm (portions 859, 860, 861, 862) was cleared and planted with pineapples for training returned soldiers in the growing of tropical crops.
Under the provisions of Queensland's 1917 Discharged Soldiers' Settlement Act after having received a qualification certificate from the Land Settlement Committee of the War Council, or from a Land Commissioner, applicants balloted for available selections and, if successful, were expected to pay one year's rent. This could either be paid in full at the time of occupation, or by ten equal instalments after taking up residence, in which case interest was added at the rate of four percent per annum. They were also expected to remain on the selection for a minimum period of five years, exceptions only being made in extreme cases of "illness, accident, or misfortune". From five to ten years the lease could only be transferred to another returned serviceman. After ten years the soldier settler was finally free to transfer the lease to any other applicant. The Queensland legislation was extended so that all honourably discharged Australian, British, Dominion and Allied ex-servicemen could apply for land.
The first land ballots were drawn on 6 November 1916 by the Governor's wife, Lady Goold-Adams. At this time the experimental farm had been in operation for six weeks training nine invalid soldiers. By July 1917, 28 returned soldiers had been allotted an area of 760 acres and 54 acres had been cleared, ploughed and planted with pineapples. One acre was similarly planted with oranges. Altogether 145 acres had been cleared, 11 houses had been erected and 17 farms had been fenced. Ringbarking had been completed on a further 100 acres. Two huts and eating facilities for 24 men had been erected, as well as a storeroom and quarters for the supervisor at the State Farm. In addition, several wells had been sunk, yielding good water. The area for township purposes had been reserved and a general store erected.
By January 1919, 96 soldier settlers were residing on the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement, increasing to 175 in July. With dependants, the total population was estimated at 400. The number of farms had increased to 379 comprising 14,896 acres and 181 houses had been erected, although 323 portions remained unallotted. The State Government had built administration buildings, blacksmith shop, school, school of arts, two stores, two butcher's shops, a barber, bakehouse, six residences for employees, an accommodation (boarding) house, depot store, kitchen, barracks and hospital. A branch store had been set up in Glasshouse Mountains township as well.
In April 1919 the Beerburrum branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League related the intention of the settlers to plant "an avenue of trees" on the main road from the station, with the object of forming a permanent memorial for Anzac Day.
The outpouring of grief in Australia that accompanied the deaths of 60,000 service people in World War I, and the fact that the dead were buried overseas, led to a period of memorial building across the nation. Memorials took many forms both functional and commemorative. Functional types included Anzac memorial parks, honour drives, heroes avenues and trees dedicated to soldiers. The siting of memorials considered their focal importance to the community with the concern being to find a prominent, spacious site to enable crowds and processions to converge at the memorials on Anzac Day. War memorials in Queensland were usually surrounded by a fence. This denoted a special commemorative area and provided some protection for the memorial. If a fence was not erected by the time of the unveiling or planting, it was added soon afterwards. Flagstaffs, which were needed for ceremonial occasions, were usually positioned behind or in proximity to war memorials.
Some time after 24 May 1920 and before the end of July 1920 the main street of Beerburrum was metalled on its southern side to the width of 24 feet to match the metal roadway on the north side of the street, forming a divided. In the middle, a 27 foot wide strip was ploughed and planted with trees in memory of the fallen soldiers of World War I. The Week newspaper reported on 21 May 1920 that the first tree (a camphor laurel) had been planted by General Birdwood, who also named the street Anzac Avenue. The Brisbane Courier stated on 5 August that the Beerburrum State School pupils had completed the planting of Anzac Avenue with 17 weeping figs, 16 Washingtonia palms and 4 pine trees. However, early photographs show the avenue plantings to be weeping figs, palms and presumably camphor laurels. This project was completed in time for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Beerburrum on 3 August 1920.
The cost of this improvement for the Lands Department was approximately £170. The Beerburrum Sub-Branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA) raised £80 to fence around the trees. The memorial was dedicated to their fallen comrades. In the centre was a flagstaff.
The Beerburrum Soldier Settlement reached it zenith in 1921 with a population of 1,200 people. Thereafter settlers rapidly departed as the poor soil and low pineapple prices made it impossible for them to make a living as pineapple growers. Many wished to transfer to other settlements but the government would not approve this. In the 12 months to June 1923, 200 men, women and children left Beerburrum. The town began to suffer and businesses closed, and in January 1924 the government began reducing its administrative staff at Beerburrum. In August that year there were still 214 returned servicemen on the settlement. Of this number 127 had applied for and been granted adjoining land forfeited by their neighbours. In November a further 82 settlers requested transfer to other settlements.
The Revaluation Board of Soldiers' Settlements set up by the Queensland Government released a confidential report in October 1924 that advised there was very little prospect of the Beerburrum Settlement ever proving even a moderate success. By June 1928 only 75 soldier settlers remained in occupation at Beerburrum. Diversification into egg production, vegetable and watermelon growing had been the most profitable adjuncts that the farmers tried in order to survive financially. When the scheme was officially terminated in 1929, there were only 69 soldier settlers remaining at Beerburrum.
Of the original 38 trees reportedly planted in Anzac Avenue at Beerburrum only 13 trees remain. Eleven of the total of 24 trees on the road reserve are Australian native trees, some of which were planted on Friday 13 December 1968, to commemorate the Beerburrum State School Golden Jubilee and others to commemorate the bi-centenary of Matthew Flinders' ascent of Beerburrum Mountain on 26 July 1799. The original timber fence that surrounded the memorial plantings, which had short stout posts supporting a diamond cut rail and demarcated a turnaround in front of the State store, is no longer extant.