The search is on for the coward who poisoned a giant Morton Bay fig tree that was – until recently – the jewel of a Primbee street.
The beloved fig tree, estimated to be about 70 years old, was one of three significant trees in the Lakeview Pde neighbourhood that added shade, shelter and amenity to the lives of residents and local wildlife.
But last week, it is estimated, someone skulked out and inserted poison, into three drill holes in the fig’s trunk.
Primbee residents are now distraught that the living giant could soon be gone.
“It’s priceless,” said new mum Elle O’Shannessy, 32, who finds shade under the tree while walking with her baby, and who noticed it first last week.
“It’s been there longer than most residents have been around.
“It protected the barren sidewalk and provided refuge not only when you’re walking around but also for the wildlife and birds that are in the area.
“The community is pretty outraged.
“It will improve the view for one property… but for everyone else it will be barren.
“It was a very healthy tree.”
On a Primbee residents social media page, residents have been clamouring to try and find a way to save the tree.
It may be too late: within a week the fig tree has already lost most of its leaves, and residents fear its days have come to an end.
The tree’s demise would devastate the old man who until recently lived in the house behind the fig, Ms O’Shannessy said.
He was known for his love of nature and was a regular contributor to bush care work around the lake.
The house was sold late last month.
Wollongong City Council is calling for information from anyone who might know what happened to the Morton Bay Fig.
A spokeswoman said council officers had visited, but not yet been in contact with, the owner of the house.
“We believe this is a significant act of tree vandalism in a highly visible location,” she said.
“The tree is on private property and the extent of the damage is unknown.
“Council’s horticulture experts are keen to work with the property owner to provide advice and support for the ongoing maintenance of the tree.
“We have visited the property, and mailed nearby residents asking for information that may help council’s investigation.”
Council is asking anyone with information about the damage to contact it on 42277111. Information will be sensitively handled.
The spokeswoman said there were no plans for council to erect a tree vandalism warning sign at the site.