I regularly find myself heading along the road to Sydney, a trip that I find mind numbingly boring, having seen it so many times and being surrounded by nothing but suburbia. I tend to fall asleep, much to the consternation of the driver. This time, one of the friends in the car made the mistake of asking a question about the rest stops between Sydney and Canberra. What that prompted was an excitable Museum Girl to explode forth her knowledge about Victoria Cross recipients from Australia and the quiet history of Remembrance Driveway.
Remembrance Driveway is a series of mostly linked roads leading from the Sydney area to Canberra, easily identified from the road through the rest stops being named after Australian Victoria Cross recipients. The memorial drive idea was seeded by Mrs Margaret Davis MBE, who suggested planting a living memorial of trees to honour the memory of those who had served Australia during WW2. The idea took off and in 1954 Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip launched the memorial by planting a Plane tree in Macquarie Place in Sydney. The trees would connect with avenues of trees, leading to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In the 1990s, rest stops and memorial parks were added to the Driveway, deepening the connection to our military history and widening the conflicts to include those post-WW2.
Interestingly, I would suggest that not many people know about this fascinating chunk of heritage. There is probably a good number of people who have seen the signs for rest stops, and made the connection that they are all Victoria Cross recipients, but gone no further then that. I have a niggling feeling that the history is largely unknown unless you happen to fall into the heritage geek category.
In the GLAM sector, there is a growing connection to using GPS or Bluetooth located spots which key into an audio device. As a participant wanders close to an item in a cabinet or wanders up to a spot in a gallery, the device picks up that you have hovered near something and plays an audio file. A pretty good example of this is the audio guide in the WW1 section of the Australian War Memorial. As a visitor wanders through the gallery sound scapes and stories are told about the items inside the cabinets. The stories can be filtered down to specific topics, so that visitors connect to their interests.
My big idea here, is that long trips can be tedious and driver fatigue is a problem. The roads are often carrying our cars and busses past untold stories. And finding a way to connect people with history and the landscape is a good thing. So why not activate GPS and new fan-dangled cars to give you the option of hearing about history as you pass locations? If a GPS picks up that there is a large stretch of road ahead without changes, it could give the option to hear about the history of places that you pass by. Filters could be placed on what style of histories you are interested in, and a prompt of ‘Would you like to know more?’ could let you fall down the proverbial click hole of history while driving along. Local histories could be discovered, the meanings of location names, the history of types of cars that pass you by, options are limitless. Adding these stories could reduce driver fatigue as it activates a persons mind and increase the possibility of taking a short detour to stop and see a landmark.
This technology is already being used for people on foot, why not stretch the reach into trains, planes and automobiles? Make the nameless unknowns on our trip connected to us.
About Rememberance Drive:
Goulburn Evening Post: Memorial Plans For Highway, Thursday 10th December 1953
About the Rememberance Driveway: NSW Transport, Roads & Maritime Services
Museum working, game playing and dog loving geek. Tune in for musings about the GLAM sector, and generally geekiness.