Four ancient scar trees that were sadly cut down last year have found a new home in Parkes where they will serve as a visual reminder of their cultural significance for the Wiradjuri people.
The trees, estimated to be older than 400 years, are now part of the Wiradjuri Garradyang Cultural Garden at the Bushman’s Hill Reserve with plans to develop a unique storyline intertwining the garden and trees using QR Codes and mobile technology.
Scott Turnbull, Rhonda Sharp and Geoff Anderson, representing the Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group and Parkes Aboriginal Working Group, told the story of the trees to The Parkes Phoenix.
The trees were on a property on Back Trundle Road and were unfortunately cut down to make way for a development. “A lack of First Nations and Wiradjuri cultural knowledge lead to the demise of a sacred place,” said the representatives. “There were sincere apologies given, but unfortunately the damage was already done.”
During the relocation process the trees were identified to be in excess of 400 years old – this predates the recolonisation of Australia and a time period when Wiradjuri people thrived in this region.
The Wiradjuri community became aware of the incident around April last year and after a lot of consultation and collaboration with Parkes Shire Council and other parties involved the trees were relocated in order to preserve what was left of them. Kent Boyd of Parkes Shire Council arranged funding for the works to begin, while Steve McGrath, Derrick Hoe and Bob Moon assisted with the removal of the trees, and designing and building steel enclosures for the trees.
“This incident has been a huge learning curve for our People, the Shire Council and others who may wish to destroy anything before consultation.
“The trees are now in a far better place than being desecrated and burnt. We can now use them as an educational tool for many years to come.
“The local community have to understand that scared trees are culturally significant and protected and are a visual reminder that First Nations Peoples did exist and have survived.”
Two of the trees have been placed in steel structures to hold them in place, and the other two will take a bit of searching to find up on Bushman’s Hill.
Aboriginal people caused scars on trees by removing bark for various purposes, such as canoes, coolamons, shields, geo-graphical markers and significant sites. The scars, which vary in size, expose the sapwood on the trunk or branch of a tree.
One of the trees removed from the school was identified as a woman’s tree by the shape of the markings, while the other three were identified as large coolamons that would have been used in ceremonies and as geographical markers from the direction it was pointing, as Parkes was a meeting area for Wiradjuri people for tens of thousands of years.
There are many more scar trees around Parkes at about 30 different sites including at the cemetery and above the football ovals.