A burst of 100km winds in the Liffey Valley on the 18th of March felled hundreds of silver wattles, dozens of stringy barks and white gum, threatened roofs and sheds and toppled one walnut tree.
This walnut tree stood in the paddock beside the cottage at Oura Oura for 90 years, heavily laden with this season’s walnuts (or at least the ones left by the animals, not to mention Paul Thomas’ annual Christmas harvest). Many a gathering has been had beneath this tree, a wedding, a commitment ceremony, meetings of people committed to working out how to better conserve our natural heritage, and discussions that bore practical fruit in the form of the Wilderness Society, the Australian and Tasmanian Greens and Bush Heritage Australia.
Bob Brown and Paul Thomas were at home in the cottage during the storm. They saw the tree slowly give in to the gusts and lay on its side. During the clean up work that followed, including the clearing Dry’s Bluff track, the Liffey River Reserve circuit trail, and the trees that missed the sheds behind the cottage by a few metres, conversation about the future of the walnut was in the air.
Is it doomed? Do we cut it up? Save the timber? Winch it back into place? Prune it? We don’t know enough about walnut trees. So with the advice of an arborist, a local tree surgeon and the help of local nursery legend, Herbert, we pruned it to account for the root damage & watered it heavily. It might have chance? We’ll give it a chance. But even if the tree does not survive, what’s more important is that the ideas and actions that germinated beneath its branches continue to grow, now and into the future.