Rob Watson and Geoffrey Suthon’s recent letters regarding their doubts as to the existence of memorial pines in the Terrace Reserve in Brunswick Heads claim, ‘there are no newspaper articles referring to the memorial’ and the trees ‘could not have been planted after WW1’. This is totally incorrect as historical articles about the memorial are archived in the National Library of Australia.
The Mullumbimby Star on 15 August 1918 stated, ‘Brunswick Heads has decided to erect an honour avenue in Park St in memory of those who have taken part in the war from the Brunswick. A general scheme of tree planting commences next Monday and will proceed as far as funds allow’.
And from The Northern Star, Friday 9 August 1918, ‘From the Brunswick Heads Progress Association, on the matter of tree planting and special rates, stating that about 17 pounds had been collected which it was understood the council would subsidise pound for pound. Cr Thorne explained the position at some length. They wanted to put a roll of honor on the tree guards, the names of those who left Brunswick for the war. It was decided residents would get the timber for the guards with work to be carried out as soon as possible under the Engineers supervision’.
These historical articles clearly document that local families and the town’s Progress Association started planting memorial trees with named timber tree guards off Park Street in August 1918. Aerial photos of Brunswick from the 1940s show the only place in Park St the planting could have taken place was in the Terrace Reserve, then known as Brunswick Flora Reserve.
My own 87-year-old father recounts the history of the plantings as told to him by his father who helped plant these trees in 1918. He in turn was also one of many local school boys who in the late thirties was passed the important tradition of watering these living memorials.
Five generations of my family have lived opposite the Terrace Reserve since the 1920s and the rows of trees in the southern end of the Terrace Reserve have always been known to us, and respected as memorials to soldiers.
The recent ecologists report referred to by Mr Suthon did indeed state some of the oldest trees being 200 to 400 years old. This has been estimated by trunk girth. However, there are over 250 pines in the south end of the reserve with girths ranging from 40cm to three metres.
Therefore ages of these trees probably range from 20 to over 400 years. An earlier ecological report from 2014 believed the pines in clear rows were planted as they were in exact lines, of similar age and evenly spaced.
Regardless of their ages or their history, the bottom line is the trees are an endangered ecological community (EEC) and must legally be protected.
I find it extremely disrespectful that this well documented and significant piece of local history is being disputed by some, simply because they had hoped to move their mobile homes onto this now protected site.
Sean O’Meara, Brunswick Heads