Bum Tree battle lost but war far from over

More than 20 people were on hand at Gerroa Road on Tuesday morning to unveil a memorial to the iconic Bum Tree.

A wooden cross, made by Gerroa resident Steve Flack, complete with a replica of the tree’s once famous buttock shape, has been placed at the base of the two-metre wide stump that is all that is left of the once huge 400-year-old blackbutt.

“It is just our way of marking the demise of a once beautiful and very important tree,” said Gerroa Environmental Protection Society president Warren Holder.

“It has been frustrating that nothing was able to be done to save the tree and others that were removed from the road edges.”

More than 140 trees along Gerroa Road have been removed by Shoalhaven City Council under the federal black spot funding program.

“It took two days to get through it, it was such a significant tree,” Mr Holder said.

“I think the contractors thought they would be through it in a day.

“And at the end it took those contractors an incredible amount of work to remove the final stump.”

GEPS secretary Howard Jones said his group might have lost the battle but in another sense had also had a win.

“There is no doubt the politicians who made the decision have come out of this a bit bruised and hopefully they will think twice about making that sort of decision again,” he said.

“I have been a councillor, I know how the system works, but I have never seen such poor governance as this situation.

“Such poor governance - it is shocking really.

“The absolute lack of consultation is just not acceptable.

“This has been a battle and we will have more ahead of us as we try to protect habitat and wildlife, especially in this area.

“For four weeks we have stood at this location and looked at the wonderful Bum Tree which became a symbol of this battle.

“It has also shown us there are a whole lot of other people who also care.”

Members of the assembled crowd spoke as a tribute to the tree, while a number left offerings, including a package containing a CD of photographs, movies and letters about the Bum Tree and the fight to keep it along with a box of hope. A smoking ceremony was also carried out.

Credit was also paid to Warren Holder and Howard Jones who led the fight against the tree’s removal and Shoalhaven councillors Amanda Findley and Jim McCrudden who also fought against its removal.

With a NSW election due in 2015, followed by a federal and local government election the following year the assembled group was encouraged to continue to bring this issue to the community’s attention.

“I think it is time for the community to say enough is enough,” said local Greens member Terry Barratt.

“Our leaders need to be more respectful of the country as a whole, not just business interests or other interests,” he said.

There was also talk of publishing a book documenting the tree’s history with photos and letters written about it, as well as an exhibition of photographs of the once majestic tree.

southcoastregister.com.au

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