School of Arts

Michael Taffe

CRCAH doctoral candidate

Landscape, memory and identity: the Ballarat Avenue of Honour and the politics of heritage


This thesis contributes to our knowledge of the Ballarat Avenue of Honour and its wider importance placing it in a national and global context. It examines the construction of memory and identity in the heritage process and how the avenue has impacted both the physical and cultural landscape. The thesis provides an explication of the origins and significance of this avenue over other local avenues, particularly looking at the political choice made to elevate one at the expense of others and at community power-elites. Similar constructs elsewhere are examined relating back to the Ballarat experience. In examining these divisions and tensions the thesis establishes how such memorials have been overlooked in the discourse of memorialisation due to the interests of local promoters. In this, Taffe's work establishes their value while analysing changing values in heritage constructs.

Michael Taffe is an archivist and historian. He has a BA with majors in English and History from University of New England, Armidale, BA (Hons) and an MA from University of Melbourne in history.

In the 1980s Michael taught remedial Maths and English at SMB, Ballarat (now Federation University Australia), before moving on to the horticulture school. He is Secretary of the Historical Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and archivist for the diocese which covers Western Victoria from the Murray to the sea. He is a regular writer on historical matters for the Catholic Church's periodical Our Diocesan Community. Through this connection and his family background he has an interest in the Australian/Irish links and attended the Mannix Conference in Cork Ireland in 2013 representing the Diocese of Ballarat. He is active as a researcher and presenter at state and national conferences. A member of Ballarat Historical Society for over 40 years he served as President of the Central Highlands Historical Association from 2012-2014 and has been associated with it over the past 30 years. A former secretary of Eureka's Children, Michael remains vitally interested in the history of Eureka. He is also a member of the Australian Book Collectors' Society with an interest in bookplates, Australian private and fine press production. He is an occasional contributor to the Society's journal Biblionews. He researches those brilliant minds of earlier generations lost to this country as expatriates, due to its isolation from Europe and North America.

Michael's research interests include: Australian history (specifically Australia in wartime: home front); Australian horticulture and landscape; social movements and associated memory and identity; Australian ex-patriots and their loss to Australian culture; the Irish in Australia; Australian art.


VicRoads 2011-2014: Historical advisor to consultants, Occulus Landscape Architecture Urban Design Environmental Planning Pty Ltd, on the design for Remembrance Drive interchange Ballarat.

Ballarat Regional Board 1991: Member of a working party in developing the Ballarat Region Conservation Strategy Draft plan.

Conference papers/proceedings

"Sacred sites: landscape and identity on the home front and abroad," presented at The First World War: Local, Global and Imperial Perspectives, University of Newcastle international WWI conference, 2015.

"Citizens and civic image: horticultural developments on the goldfields through the lens of the Ballarat Horticultural Society," presented at Under the Southern Cross a goldfields experience, Victorian Association of Family History Organisations state conference, 2013.

"A new nation, a new landscape: Australia's premier memorials to those who served in the Great War," presented at Gardens of a golden era, Australian Garden History Society national conference, 2012.

"Sacred sites in the landscape: Avenues of Honour in Australia," presented at Locating History AHA biennial conference, University of Melbourne, 2008.



Growing a Garden City: Ballarat Horticultural Society 1859 – 2009, Ballarat: Ballarat Heritage Services, 2014.

A double century: Edward Heffernan and Geoffrey Mainwaring 1912-2012, Ballarat: Sovereign Hill Museums Association, 2013.

Love one another: a century of The Society of St Vincent de Paul, St Patrick's Conference Ballarat, Ballarat: Ballarat Heritage Services, 2006.

Exploring Ballarat's garden heritage, Ballarat: Hymettus Cottage Garden & Museum, 1999.

Book chapters

"The library at Hymettus", in D. Chambers (ed) A modest collection, Middlesex: P.L.A., Pinner, 2007, 329-331.

Journal articles

"Ninetieth anniversary of our Avenues of Honour", The Australian garden history society journal, 17(5), May/June 2006, 24.

"Kickshaws of Paris: funky?" Biblionews, Australian Book Collectors' Society journal, 29, (1&2), March-June 2004, 25-28.

"A history of the Ballarat Horticultural Society", The Ballarat Historian, Journal of the Ballarat Historical Society, 2 (8), September 1985.

"The Ballarat City garden competitions 1915-1918", The Australian garden journal, Australian Garden History Society Journal, 4(4), April 1985.

"Pastoral connections: a background sketch to Ballarat street names", Ballarat Historian, Journal of the Ballarat Historical Society, 2(2), March 1984.