This morning, Thursday 15 October, Council’s foreshore crews were confronted by significant damage to two coastal tea trees growing above the children’s playground at Belmore Basin.
The trees had had their branches sawn off, with only their trunks – twisted and gnarled with age – left behind. With the level of damage done to the trees, at this time, Council’s arborists do not believe they can be saved.
“I am sure I am not alone in saying that I am distressed by this wanton act of tree vandalism,” Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.
“These were beautiful trees that had been climbed upon by many, many children and had provided shade and amenity to this much-loved area. To see these trees with their branches sawn off by an individual or individuals overnight is really upsetting. I can assure the community Council is working closely with NSW Police to investigate this illegal action thoroughly.”
The tea trees are within the Wollongong Harbour State Heritage Precinct and were retained during the redevelopment of the Brighton Lawn precinct in 2008. They are recognised as highly significant native trees, which are considered remnant informal planting that have contributed to the character of the area. They’re an attraction for local children and photographers.
“Anyone familiar with these trees will know how they just draw children to their branches. Kids love nothing more than to climb the twisted trunks and the bark has been smoothed by many feet and shoes over the years,” Cr Bradbery said.
In addition to providing information to NSW Police on the vandalism, Council has also reporting the act to Heritage NSW for investigation. It’s believed the vandalism will constitute a breach of the NSW Heritage Act 1977.
“Tree vandalism is, and continues to be a problem across this city,” Cr Bradbery.
“If anyone has any information about this incident – or in fact any others – I ask them to contact Council or NSW Police and share what they know. Tree vandalism is often a deliberate act, often undertaken in the cover of darkness and we all need to work together to prevent any further damage to our city’s trees. It is not right that one individual or individuals can ruin the beauty of an area that’s loved by so many, so please if you know something tell us or the NSW Police.
To support our investigation Council will review CCTV of the area and share footage with NSW Police.