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Byron Shire
April 20, 2021

Something to think about on Remembrance Day

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One of the cypress tree's lower branches recently removed, making more tent room in the process.
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Sean O’Meara, Foreshore Protection Group

Currently in Brunswick Heads Terrace Reserve (public Crown land) around a dozen pine trees have been roped off in readiness to be cut down so North Coast Holiday Parks can erect some of those flash new safari tents for ‘Glamping’ (glamorous camping).

Not only are these Coastal Cypress Pines a protected species they have enormous historical significance as they were planted by local families as a memorial to their loved ones who never returned from World War 1.

It is an absolute disgrace that this destruction should even be considered. This is another sign this organisation has no respect for the local community and absolutely no ethics what so ever.

Following is an extract of the history of the Memorial Pines written by 83 year old D’Arcy O’Meara who was one of the ‘Gunga Din’ water boys who kept the trees alive. The full story and a list of the local families involved is available online at http://tiny.cc/x7w2ox .

For Australia, World War I was a costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. By the time the war ended in November 1918, Australian families were in shock by the loss of so many young men; Australia was sad and in mourning. This was not the way it was supposed to be: the excitement, the adventure, the quick and decisive victory was gone and replaced by sadness and loss.

The local communities of Byron Bay, Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads, Billinudgel and surrounds all felt and shared the senseless loss of life of our gallant soldiers, sailors and airmen. Something had to be done to remember these young servicemen; a memorial to their valor, to their supreme sacrifice, and a memorial to the horrors of war so that it never happened again.

All around Australia, war memorials were being established and built taking many forms such as memorial halls, cemeteries, memorial churches, obelisks, libraries, etc. The popular local decision was a memorial to remember those lives lost to be a ‘Living and Perpetual Memorial’ and so a memorial of trees was decided upon. After the Gallipoli Campaign the pine tree had become a symbol of Australians at war, and as the hardy pine tree was known to live for hundreds of years it was appropriate to establish a Memorial Pine Tree Park.

The volunteer teams from surrounding towns would arrive in their groups, and as not everyone owned a motor vehicle, many groups arrived in farmer’s trucks. A memorable ceremony that took place at the end of every session, when the volunteers would stand in a circle around one of the memorial pine trees, and with hats off and heads bowed, would spend a moment’s silence. Ladies with refreshments often accompanied the men and after work all would relax and enjoy a yarn and a ‘cuppa’. The stories told were such that we kids hung on every word and tried to conceal that we were evesdropping.

Many of the men were ex-servicemen who had fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front and had sort of survived the war, many had obvious scars, all had hidden scars. I could never fathom how ‘The Gas’ would make it so difficult for some to breathe and why some hands never stopped shaking.

 

 


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