Wauchope figs (and too much other news as usual)


An inspiring fight was won in Wauchope a few years ago to save a row of Hill’s figs in Hastings Street, the main street. The 14 fig trees are between High and Young Streets .  The community were inspiring: after council decided to remove them trees, a group of residents arranged their own arborist to review the health of the figs and managed to retain the trees. Council’s focus was on the damage the trees had done to the road and footpaths:

‘Fig trees in the centre of Hastings Street have been part of the Wauchope CBD for more than 60 years and are viewed as an important part of the streetscape. Unfortunately, the trees have caused significant damage to the road pavement and footpaths areas. Vehicles parking under the trees and past management practices have caused additional damage to the trees and tree roots.

Extensive consultation with the Wauchope Chamber of Commerce Executive, the Chamber of Commerce and an information session for the local community have provided technical information outlining how the trees have a relatively short life expectancy, are rapidly deteriorating in health and are continuing to cause damage to Hastings Street. These factors highlight the critical nature of the issue and the need for definitive management.’

The Hastings Council has the three arborist reports on its website. The National Trust were interested in saving the trees which they said were

planted in 1937/8 as part of Australia’s Sesquicentenary. The trees have wonderful streetscape value and complement the 1913 Methodist Church, the …court house, the 1915 police residence and many fine examples of homes from the timber boom of the 1920s… The Trust is considering a listing of the avenue of trees or a small urban conservation area featuring the trees on the Trust Register.’

There’s a small and beautiful picture of the trees in a National trust newsletter here. Well, now the focus is on the trees at the other end of the street.

In the Google Earth shot the trees that were saved are in the southern block. Now it’s reported that the trees in the spotlight are in the northern block and legal action is being taken against council for damage to property. That’s usually enough to scare councils and get what people want.

 Council is considering three things: do good, do a little bit either way, do bad  do nothing, cut the roots at the road/kerb interface, or remove all the figs in this area. They’re talking about replacing the figs with brushbox trees. I’m always surprised that tree-haters tolerate brush box. I suppose I have the wrong attitude to them because around here they’ve generally had the beauty pruned out of them and the ground around them is usually covered in seeds and small branches, and grass doesn’t seem to like growing close to the trunk but whatever. One must have a variety of trees and at least  they’re native…

You have to congratulate the council in Wauchope for being honest about why they want to remove the trees.

And away from Wauchope, have a look at this picture of a gorgeous fig with what look like roots going in a radial pattern – not. (Remember Newcastle council’s fear of apparently lineal root patterns.)

And I thought the news about the grey-headed flying foxes being left alone at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens till next year was cheering. One can hope that something will happen between now and then to change the Trust’s mind permanently.

And a couple of websites worth looking at:

http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com I’ve mentioned SoT before. There are regular entries under ‘International tree news’ that make interesting reading.

http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/ is a collection of articles and pictures of innovative and green urban designs from around the world.

http://openarchitecturenetwork.org The Open Architecture Network is an ‘online, open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design’. This site points out that 1 billion people live in poverty. I love the section called ‘Design like you give a damn’.

Tree Defense Fund on twitter or facebook posts good- and bad-news articles about trees all over the place. They tweeted my shortened version of Mr Marsden’s report on Newcastle’s own Laman Street!  Cheers.     Home



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