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The Warpels Boys
The embrace of
The Boys at ground level
Click to enlarge the four photos above
The Explorers Tree
North Queensland (1)
The Explorers Tree
North Queensland (2)
Mango Tree (1)
Mango Tree (2)
The ATF seeks a person to act as a link person to groups and ancient
tree activity in Australia
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Dear Tree Friends
As I know many of you are aware it has been my intention for almost two
years to bring together like minded people in the cause of raising awareness
of the importance and value of older (often but not always larger) trees in
our urban environment. This circular letter is the first step in what I
suspect, based on the experience of similar groups overseas, will prove to
be a long journey.
Your Invitation to join the Veteran Tree Group
(pdf 192 KB))
The desire to focus on consultation has resulted in me working
increasingly in the SE corner of Queensland, where a combination of greater
population, greater development pressures and more comprehensive local tree
protection laws creates the demand for Consulting Arborists.
Although my family still lives in Townsville to the north, I spend three out
of every four weeks based in the Gold Coast, and have as a result been
exposed to a number of impressive veteran trees….
The pattern of early white settlement spreading gradually through the late
1880’s up the Queensland coast line and along the protected river valleys is
reflected in the rapidly dwindling remnant vegetation…each big veteran Ficus
stands testament to the desire by early settlers to have shade and fodder
for cattle, whether the cattle was dairy, beef or bullocks the work engines
of much of the rural activities in the late 1800’s.
The pictures of the two ex forest remnant figs Ficus macrophylla in the
Numinbah Valley are extremely rare since very little of the pre-settlement
forest exists today, the vast majority was cleared as a requirement of
obtaining and retaining a lease on the land….the valuable timber trees of
cedar and hoop pine had almost all been cut down decades before the arrival
of wide scale farming.
The two remnant fig trees that I call them the Warples boys after the two
brothers who owned the lots where they’re growing in the late 1880’s, were
most likely retained for shelter and fodder for bullock teams that the
Warples owned themselves and other cattle they egisted on their land for
Individual Veteran Figs stand as defiant sentinels marking some of the
earliest connections between white settlers and the land, they are as Ted
Green described ancient Oaks in the UK, time machines that can transport our
minds back almost 200yrs to the hardships and struggle of early settler
It is incredible considering the extent of urban sprawl that has occurred
(particularly in the last 30yrs) that any of these veterans have survived.
The two Figs pictured at Clover Hill were planted as part of the old Clover
hill Dairy near Mudgeeraba, thankfully they have been retained and protected
in the middle of a public park area in the development
Despite what at times appears to be our deliberate efforts to destroy them a
small population of veterans remains, and these trees need protection and
specific management to ensure that they remain as living monuments for the
next 200yrs for many more generations to enjoy, marvel at and literally feel
a connection with our shared history.
Personal meetings with these trees has been a major driving force behind
getting the Veteran Tree Group started in Queensland, and although we are a
long way physically from friends and colleagues in the UK and Europe our
Blog http://veterantreegroup.blogspot.com/ and Video Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/VeteranTreeGroup
should enable anyone interested to follow the Aussie trials and
Yours amongst the trees
Sean gives us a fascinating insight into his work:-
"The time frame of white settlement in Northern Australia strongly
determines the age class of the trees we see and work with. There are very
few truly ancient trees here, most have been long since felled or destroyed
by the cumulative effects of urbanisation. There are no doubt older trees
out in the bush but we very rarely get to see them; the distances involved
in exploring the interior of our state are mind boggling!
The first two photos are of a 260yr old Eucalyptus microtheca (coolabah)
in the small township of Hughenden in Western Queensland. This tree was used
as a way marker by two explorers Walker and Landsborough in their separate
searches for the ill fated Burke and Wills expedition in the 1860's. The
discovery of suitable pasture land in the region by William Landsborough led
to settlers moving to the West and developing towns like Hughenden, I have
written a management plan for the "explorers tree" which will hopefully
prevent it from declining as rapidly as many younger historical trees in
Queensland have. As I indicated in my first note, the great work done
in the UK by the Ancient Tree Forum has proved invaluable to me.
The second two photos are of a row of mango trees planted down the main
street of a small township in North Queensland Halifax, planted in 1880's
(therefore only 126yrs old) these trees mark one of the first civic
improvements made by the emergent settler society in this small corner of
the north. We prepared a management plan for the protection of these trees,
after careful inspection and some minor works to remove dangerous deadwood
over the main street. (Note the bitumen right up to the stems of the
I have used many different resources in my work with these veterans of the
bush much of it from organisations such as yours to great effect and benefit
for all. The work that has been done through Europe and especially Britain
is especially important to Arborists working with veteran trees down under,
so thank you."
Photos by Sean Freeman