No Gum Valley

• Frank Sander and Chadia Scheel lament the disappearance of mature trees throughout White Gum Valley. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Frank Sander and Chadia Scheel lament the disappearance of mature trees throughout White Gum Valley. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

“LISTEN. In the background you can hear the birds screaming.”

Frank Sander sadly flicks through video he’s recorded on his phone documenting the clear-felling of the property next to his Newbold Street home/office, including a 30-metre red flowering gum that attracted dozens of birds every morning.

The local real estate agent feels his place is a bit like an oasis in the desert: three properties in his immediate neighbourhood have been completely cleared for subdivision in the past fortnight.

Sadly

“This is White Gum Valley, but you have to question its name, don’t you?” he sadly asked the Herald. “Soon there won’t be any trees at all.”

Mr Sander wants Fremantle council to adopt a significant tree register and implement rules compelling developers take all steps necessary to protect mature trees.

In an online debate Mr Sander sparked with his Facebook friends, infill-loving mayor Brad Pettitt—a member of the Greens—at first tried to wriggle out, saying “council can only regulate trees on public land not private”.

But when pinged by Rudy Vogelsang who noted laws can change, Dr Pettitt changed tack.

“We have considered a significant tree register and may be worth relooking at this again,” he said.

The destroyed flowering gum was on a property owned by the parents of Heath Ledger: they are building two homes on the site for the deceased actor’s sisters.

Kim Ledger says he spent $10,000 trying to save the trees by rejigging plans, but it just wasn’t possible. He says the only option was to move a cross-over and take out a council verge tree which he didn’t think would fly.

“All the other neighbours have been cool about it but Frank has refused to speak to us, right from the start.”

Mr Ledger suspects some jealousy, as he’d been given first option to buy the property and has been told Mr Sander had his eye on it.

The Applecross resident and his wife Ines say they are “tree people” and when the homes are built they plan beautiful, lush gardens for the girls.

“We’re even going to reticulate the verge, which is the council land,” Ms Ledger told the Herald.

by STEVE GRANT

4 responses to “No Gum Valley

  1. I met Mr Ledger and his wife when they were inspecting the block pre-demolition recently. They were lovely, and I was excited to meet like-minded ‘Tree People’. I asked directly what was happening to the trees, and they assured me the trees were staying. I was so relieved, as were my other neighbours. I was dismayed to see the trees’ brutal destruction during the demolition, and I was not contacted when the Ledger’s plans had to change.

  2. I have presently surprised by the support of store holders and visitors on the last Sundays Grower Green Market in relation to recent ‘No Gum Valley’ article. So many shared similar experiences and they felt the need that something more has to be done to maintain the local habitat in the wider Fremantle area.
    A few called this article unfortunate as the reporters style was a deliberately provocative reporting by taking the focus a way from the issue and making it a social political issue. This is what he said on facebook: Steve Grant “Heh, I thought that bit would get your dander up, Frank, as well as the bit about everyone else in the neighbourhood being cool about it. Thing is, I don’t get to tell people what they have to think or say, I just write it down.”
    So it is just provocative writing where a real journalist would have taken the time and researched what was said is actually true, which is in this case is not, and confirmed with the neighbours before printing it.
    I think it is this kind of ‘reporting’ and the constant blame towards the Fremantle Council and the Mayor Brad Pettit created big rift in the community, so the Council decided not to advertise in Herald anymore. This is a great loss for a community paper not able to supply community information from the council manly because of its its anti community reporting style. It is not an issue of ‘us and them’ as the council is the most important part in our community and was elected by the community itself. I personally think it is doing a great job with plenty of room for improvement.
    I have been a long supporter of Herald over the past 12 years in advertising my services, providing stories and engaging the papers many services. I am currently negotiating a 16k plus annual contract with the Herald to advertise my new business Smartchoice Realty.
    My marketing and business advertisers have asked me last Friday why I would invest at all in a disappearing medium? Call me old fashion but I like the idea of a community paper with plenty of community information of was it is going and getting that feeling of connectedness and belonging.
    But with local council information and support gone, that constant council bashing and anti community reporting as well as feeling ‘dandered up’ myself I am thinking that it might be time to jump ship too and looking for all the alternatives like my advisers told me to.

    I think it is becoming now a ‘change or die’ situation for the Herald by getting the council back on board and employing community building journalism. But looking at diminishing size of the paper over the last weeks that end might be sooner than Rupert Murdoch predicted for 2020. And that would be a real shame.

    • You can read more reader’s comments regarding this issue in the latest letters section of this website including ‘Kissy Kissy with council’ from David Hawks of Fremantle and ‘Local Hero’ from David and Isabelle Cadman of White Gum Valley.

  3. You can read more reader’s comments regarding this issue in the latest letters section of this website including ‘Kissy Kissy with council’ from David Hawks of Fremantle and ‘Local Hero’ from David and Isabelle Cadman of White Gum Valley.

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