Fighting for historic tree

April 13, 2018

Jennafer Whelan is fighting to save a tree she says is more than 200 years old.

A tree that is older than Echuca will be cut down to make way for the Echuca-Moama bridge project.

But one Campaspe Shire councillor, Echuca Historical Society and a passionate woman who lives near it are doing everything they can to stop that from happening.

It is a piece of history they do not want to see lost.

The gum tree on the corner of Campaspe Esplanade and Warren St is estimated to be between 250 and 350 years old but according to VicRoads it is not recorded as significant with Campaspe Shire or state authorities.

Campaspe Shire councillor Annie Vickers said she would not go down without a fight and if VicRoads took away the tree it would have to take her too.

‘‘Over my dead body,’’ she said.

‘‘This is only the start of the fight.

‘‘When it’s been there for that many years, it’s healthy, why would you even consider removing this tree?

‘‘Haven’t we lost enough trees for this bridge without removing something that cannot be replaced?’’

As part of the bridge project, VicRoads is widening the road on Warren St, which it said would mean the tree would have to go.

Bridge project manager Jason Warren said his team recognised the environment’s importance but the tree would have to be removed.

‘‘We recognise the importance of the environment to the community and work hard to minimise our impact on the natural surroundings,’’ he said.

‘‘VicRoads has undertaken a number of measures as part of our rigorous planning, which includes comprehensive identification of all trees along the whole project alignment to help identify and minimise the number of trees needing to be removed.

‘‘Sadly, this particular tree cannot feasibly be incorporated into the final Warren St design and will need to be removed.’’

VicRoads said several options were explored throughout the planning and design phase to try to save the tree but the proposed design alternatives did not meet road safety or road design guidelines nor guarantee the tree’s long-term health.

Jennafer Whelan, who lives near the tree, said it was a travesty.

‘‘It’s the largest and oldest tree close to the Echuca CBD,’’ Mrs Whelan said.

‘‘When Echuca is into preserving history what could be more important than Echuca’s living history?

‘‘It deserves its survival. We need to keep our living history because we’ve lost so much of old Echuca.’’

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