What an incredibly emotional week it has been, sharing the long anticipated relocation of our Leongatha Illawarra Flame Tree.
While our South Gippsland Shire Councillors neglected to make any meaningful attempt to protect the significant trees, listed on their own Heritage Tree Register, Aldi, motivated by growing community concern, quickly responded to the urgency to protect widely accepted, community and environmental values of the townscape and tree-scape.
For months, as Aldi site-works progressed, our 100 year-old old Flame Tree has been rediscovered from an overgrown domestic garden and now resurrected as an iconic symbol of evolving community expectations and values.
It has been so reassuring that our 100 year-old tree makes news headlines and that it strikes such a positive cord with so many in our community.
Our pioneer Flame Tree’s association with Leongatha’s Bair family has much local significance.
I feel that positive concern can only grow, as our grand, beautiful, old-timer settles into its new, proud, high-profile home.
It’s not easy being moved from the home of a life-time, but I trust so many concerned will be looking out for her.
If my tree-loving mum could have witnessed our celebration, she would have been proud.
In this incredible community-driven campaign, there are so many to thank:
– Thelma Arnup from the Leongatha Horticultural Society for her inspiring support and commitment, initially, getting the issue to experts, press and South Gippsland Shire Council.
– Prof Greg Moore, Melbourne University, who negotiated with Aldi and for expert advice.
– John Fordham, Heritage Victoria, for expert advice.
– Anna Foley, Tree Advocate, National Trust, for expert advice.
– Warren Worboys, Curator, Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, for encouragement and expert advice.
– Very special thanks to the expert, hands-on, local arborists who committed to a challenge we were told could not be done.
– Nick Rivett, Forensic Arboriculturist and Environmental Consultant, who negotiated with Aldi and Becon Constructions about site, logistic and safety issues, with expert oversight of the entire transplant project.
– Peter Bateman, ArborZone, Arborist, for the expert, hands-on tree preparation and dare-devil rope work during the final lift and final bedding in.
– Both Aldi and Becon for their generous cooperation in the facilitation of this remarkable, historic event.
I have been dreaming about that moment, on Thursday, when our incredible tree became airborne as the Flying Flame Tree.
An unforgettable experience of a lifetime! May she live another 100 years!
Cr Jim Fawcett told me months ago not to give up lobbying the South Gippsland Shire Council to amend its Planning Scheme, to introduce a Significant Vegetation Protection Overlay.
Councillors, please seize the moment!
Richard Lester, Leongatha.