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I read in the May newsletter of the Marrickville Heritage Society that local resident Michael Pearce passed away on 28th April 2010 after a long illness.   I am quite sad about this.  Michael was one of the residents who addressed Marrickville Councillors on 11th August 2009 in the campaign to save the 2 magnificent Hills Fig trees in Mackey Park Marrickville South.

Mackey Park Fig Trees

Michael was very supportive of the campaign to save these trees & kindly agreed to allow me to publish his speech to Council in SoT.  This was very important to me as I desperately wanted these trees to be retained & SoT was only 2 months old at that stage.  His support meant a lot to me & I was & still am enormously grateful.

He did help save the Mackey Park Figs & I hope he felt good whenever he saw them when he visited or passed Mackey Park.  He knew the history of the park well as he had been going there since he was a young man.  It was a pleasure to know Michael. He was full of verve & integrity.  My thoughts go to his family.

Quite a few people have searched this site for Michael’s speech. This prompted me to add a more visible search box now located at the top of the left-hand column.  You can read Michael’s speech by clicking on the following link- https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/17th-august-09-another-residents-speech-to-council/

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Gloriously beautiful trees which are a huge asset to Newcastle

The community tree preservation group Save Our Figs (SoF) based in Newcastle NSW has an acute issue that is about to be decided upon by Newcastle City Council.  The Council wants to remove 13 eighty year old Hill’s Figs that line Laman Street & top Civic Park.  SoF has been lobbying Newcastle Council to search for other options rather than chop down these phenomenally beautiful Fig trees & replace them with trees that Newcastle Council have not nominated as yet.

From the SoF petition – Laman Street is Newcastle’s most beautiful street. Newcastle City Council believes the 13 figs in the street are likely to fall down in the next 5 – 15 years. They have based this on the advice of a single arborist.  The council is considering no other option than felling the trees & we believe alternatives need to be examined such as closing the street to vehicles &/or pedestrians or closing the street in storms. As it is a non-residential & non-commercial street the chance of injury by a falling tree is remote & the trees are an integral part of Newcastle’s identity.

and I complained about hammering nails into trees....

We don’t have a comparable tree site in Marrickville LGA.  Newcastle has many Fig trees, but the Laman Street avenue of Fig trees, being in the centre of town, are truly memorable because they are particularly beautiful trees.  Naturally, when a Council wants to remove trees like these that have so much history behind them, the community is going to be upset.  I doubt there would be many people in Newcastle who don’t know the Laman Street Fig trees & most hold them dear to their heart.

I have been in regular contact with Caitlin Raschke who runs Save Our Figs since the campaign started. Over Easter, we visited & went to look at the Fig trees in Laman Street.  I hadn’t seen them in 23 years, which was the last time I went to this street as part of my employment at that time. I remember how stunned I was when the taxi dropped me off & I looked up at these fantastic trees.  They haven’t changed & the feeling you get when you stand in Laman Street had just as much impact this time as it did all those years ago.  The only thing that had changed was Civic Park, which to my mind, had deteriorated significantly.  Apart from the fantastic fountain, much of Civic Park seems uncared for, particularly the memorial grove for fallen soldiers & there seemed to be less trees than I remember.

I also saw Tyrell Street, which lost a few Hill’s Figs during a major storm a few years ago.  Newcastle Council removed a number of Figs along this street & replaced them with Tuckaroos.  To me, the result looks like a scar.

Is this a practice stump? It's located the beginning of the avenue of spectacular Hills Figs in Laman Street

It is heartbreaking to think that the Laman Street Hill’s Fig trees will be chopped down.  I am in total agreement with Caitlin when she says everything possible should be done to save these iconic trees.

In Europe & especially America this would happen as a norm.  All sorts of options would be canvassed & money would be spent to save & care for trees like these which give so much back to the community in terms of air quality, carbon sequestration, pollution removal, beauty, history & homes & food for wildlife, including bats.  Just last night I was reading how Fig trees can be stabilized & the risk of them falling can be dramatically reduced by using peat-filled pipes.  These days some Councils chop off the roots that grow from the branches of Fig trees & descend to the ground.  It is these roots the tree uses to stabilize itself, as it grows larger.  If you put peat-filled pipes from the root stumps along the branches, the tree will rapidly grow new roots down through the pipe & into the ground.  Isn’t nature clever?  I guess, in time, you could cut open & remove the pipe if it was made from PVC.

Laman Street is very popular for wedding photographs because the street trees are so beautiful

The Laman Street Fig trees also provide a strong sense of presence to such central & important buildings such as the Art Gallery & others located here.  Importantly, the trees provide a popular place to get married & have wedding photos taken. Later, their children can still see, touch & play where Mum & Dad were on their wedding day.  I know this is a strong emotion for many people because of the feedback I have received about the St Stephen’s Hill’s Fig in Newtown. Those who had their wedding photo taken under this tree love it in a special & strong way.  The tree or trees gets incorporated into the story of the relationship/marriage.  This is not surprising because human beings have always associated trees with strength, longevity & wisdom & this is easily transferred over to hopes surrounding a marriage.

I must say that, like only a few people outside the LGA know how beautiful our Cooks River really is, not many people know how beautiful Newcastle is.  I wanted to pack up & move to Cooks Hill immediately.  The beaches are stunning & wild, the streets are clean, the traffic is not like traffic, droves of people were out in the sunshine, the cafés were full to bursting & the trees, well I could go on about them for hours.  Newcastle is a naturally beautiful place because of the hills, the river & the beaches. But without all those large & spectacular trees in parks & on roadsides it wouldn’t be as beautiful.  Newcastle could be called the City of Fig Trees because they have so many gorgeous Fig trees scattered about.  In my opinion, these trees make this city special.

Please pay a visit to Save Our Figs. There is an online petition open to anyone who cares about these trees. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/laman-street-figs.html 2,500 Newcastle residents have already signed both a paper petition & the online petition & that is 2% of the Newcastle community.

Like Saving Our Trees, there has been no advertising.  It has been all word of mouth, which I think makes it stronger as a community campaign.  There are no bells & whistles to draw people in, just a love for trees & a wish that trees be saved from the chain-saw.

I would read http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/ from the beginning. But if you find this idea too time consuming, the following pages are notable.   Caitlin’s reply to a comment gives a run down on the history of the community campaign in the following link – http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/barcelona-just-as-barbaric-as-newcastle/

The Save Our Figs home page also gives a timeline of what has been happening during the campaign – http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/

You can read the follow-up post  written on 1st September 2010 about the Independent Arborist Report by clicking here  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/independent-arborist-report-for-newcastles-laman-street-figs/

7th October 2011 – As this seems to be the post people are coming for information, the following posts offer more recent posts about the Laman Street Figs starting with the Councillors vote to kill the trees  –

10th October 2011 – Newcastle community fights to save the Laman Strett Street Figs – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/newcastle-community-fight-to-save-the-laman-street-fig-trees/

4th October 2011 – The final vote is to kill the trees.  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/newcastle-councillors-vote-to-kill-the-laman-street-fig-trees/

13th September 2011-  The Figs get some fairness – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/laman-street-figs-get-some-fairness/

29th August 2011 – Not mulch yet – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/not-mulch-yet/

26th August 2011 – Laman Street Figs Next Life will be Mulch – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-laman-street-figs-next-life-will-be-mulch/

3rd August 2011 – Mediation for the Figshttps://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/mediation-for-laman-street-fig-trees/

26th August 2011 – The Newcastle Councillors voted on the fate of the Laman Street Figs last night – http://bit.ly/n1BNrK

Tree-lined shopping strip in Newcastle CBD - This is what I would like our shopping strips in Marrickville LGA to look like - proof it can be done

Cooks Hill Newcastle with Stockton in the distance - note the many large street trees

click here to follow Saving Our Trees on Twitter

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