Not just a pop

The 130-year old cork tree is but a stump today.

A CORK oak tree thought to be sold old it was likely planted by Afghan cameleers opening up WA’s goldfields, has been felled by a Mt Pleasant home owner.

The Reynolds Road tree was assessed by the National Trust in 2014 as having local significance “on par” with the ancient cork in Tenterfield, NSW, now a tourist attraction.

“The tree is located in an area which was virgin banksia forest at the time of planting,” the Trust’s listing notes.

“It has survived the development and gentrification of the area to the point that it is now located on one of the few remaining quarter-acres in the locality.

Cameleers

“It is likely to have grown from an acorn contained in imported feed given to feed camels who worked on a track through this area from the Fremantle Port.”

The report said it was possibly the “most impressive” cork oak in Perth.

“It is in good health and excepting destruction during future developments of the site, should live another century or two.”

But it only lasted another six years, with the chainsaws coming in this week after the block’s recent sale.

The Chook was alerted to the tree’s heritage by local resident David, who was angry it had not been protected.

“Terrible to keep losing what little history we have,” he said.

“The tree was close tot he road verge, which would have made it easier to have kept it.

“Nothing will bring the tree back, however bringing it to public attention may stop similar actions in the future.”

Melville CEO Marten Tieleman said city officers were aware of the tree and agreed it was a great loss to the street, the community and the tree canopy.

“Trees are one of our most important assets, contributing greatly to our urban forest, keeping our streets cooler, helping us adapt to climate change and also contribute to the beautifying of our streets and neighbourhoods,” Mr Tieleman said.

“While some local governments do have policies in place for the management of trees on private land, there is no current legislation in WA that actually provides for the protection of trees on private property, which makes such policies very difficult to enforce in real terms.”

According to English folklore, the felling of the tree during the Covid-19 outbreak couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Corks were known as “The Wishing Tree” during the Great Plague of London in 1665, and were thought to have powers that brought luck to those who performed certain rituals. People would come from all parts of the country to walk three times around a cork tree while wishing for better health, fortune or a husband or wife.

By STEVE GRANT

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