Barry Oliver and Melanie Windus on the Alumni Heritage Walk

New alumni walk

Friday, February 16, 2024
Response to paver push confirms lasting legacy

A bulk order of pavers has led to the refurbishment and completion—after almost 25 years—of a walk honouring alumni of Avondale.

A promotional campaign in 2021 preceding a first-ever price rise added more than 70 new pavers to the Alumni Heritage Walk between historic Bethel and College Halls on the Lake Macquarie campus. Now the university had a decision to make: lay the pavers in an aging terracotta or new concrete path. Despite a higher cost, the concrete path eventually became the preferred option.

The decision then removal of the terracotta path and granite pavers and laying of the concrete path and re-laying of pavers took far longer than we anticipated, says former Alumni Relations Officer Rachel Humphries. “We thank alumni for their patience.”

With its steel edging, the concrete path better protects the pavers. And it more prominently features them, with pavers laid in rows across rather than along the path forming a decorative break between slabs.

About 400 alumni, whose names and final year of study or first and final year of service are etched in black granite, have pavers in the walk. They appear in groups such as couples or families or randomly in available spaces but each appears alphabetically with paver row and position in an Alumni Heritage Walk Register.

These mostly former students and staff members maintain a strong connection to Avondale, says Rachel, who spoke to a range “from the young to those ordering for parents and grandparents who are no longer with us.” She remembers one order coming as a gift for an alumnus of 1909.

The idea of the walk appealed to Dr Lyell Heise and other Avondale Alumni leaders who launched it at Homecoming in 1999—centenarian Laura Kent, an alumna of 1920, donated and unveiled the first paver. “Placing a paver in it is about as permanent a memorial as you’ll get in the harsh Australian climate,” he says.

Honouring legacy is one goal of the walk, raising money is another, with at least $100 from the sale of each paver funding capital projects with a heritage focus. The last project, completed in part with funding from the walk: the makeover of a student hub in College Hall.

While the refurbishment—the first since the launch—extends the longevity of the walk, it also completes and closes it as a fundraising project. “We have no more space,” says Public Relations Officer and Philanthropy Officer Brenton Stacey. He thanks Lyell and all other Avondale Alumni leaders for promoting the walk as a project for almost 25 years. “We hope our next alumni idea lasts just as long and honours just as many.”

Photograph: Our Alumnus and Alumna of the Year Dr Barry Oliver and Melanie Windus take a closer look at the refurbished Alumni Heritage Walk. Credit: Maddy Voinea.

Alumni Heritage Walk Register

Find your Alumni Heritage Walk paver or the paver of someone you know in our register. Names appear alphabetically with paver row and position.