Two significant old trees growing in the Wollongong Harbour heritage precinct have been badly vandalised overnight and will likely not be able to be saved, Wollongong City Council says.
The tea trees, which have grown for years behind the children's playground at Belmore Basin, have had their branches sawn off with only their trunks remaining.
The council and police are reviewing CCTV of the area to try to catch the vandals, who may also be liable for breaching the NSW Heritage Act.
On Thursday morning, the council said foreshore crews were confronted by the "significant damage", which is so extensive that the council's arborists do not believe they can be saved.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery labelled the vandalism "distressing".
I can assure the community the council is working closely with NSW Police to investigate this illegal action thoroughly.
"These were beautiful trees that had been climbed upon by many, many children and had provided shade and amenity to this much-loved area," he said.
"To see these trees with their branches sawn off by an individual or individuals overnight is really upsetting.
"I can assure the community the council is working closely with NSW Police to investigate this illegal action thoroughly.''
The trees are within the Wollongong Harbour State Heritage Precinct and were retained during the redevelopment of the Brighton Lawn precinct in 2008.
They are recognised as highly significant native trees, which are considered remnant informal planting that have contributed to the character of the area.
"Anyone familiar with these trees will know how they just draw children to their branches," Cr Bradbery said.
"Kids love nothing more than to climb the twisted trunks and the bark has been smoothed by many feet and shoes over the years."
In addition to providing information to NSW Police on the vandalism, the council has also reporting the act to Heritage NSW for investigation as it is believed the vandalism will constitute a breach of the NSW Heritage Act 1977.
"Tree vandalism is, and continues to be a problem across this city,'' Cr Bradbery.
"If anyone has any information about this incident - or in fact any others - I ask them to contact the council or NSW Police and share what they know.
"Tree vandalism is often a deliberate act, often undertaken in the cover of darkness and we all need to work together to prevent any further damage to our city's trees.
"It is not right that one individual or individuals can ruin the beauty of an area that's loved by so many, so please if you know something tell us or the NSW Police."
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