Folks, there’s a lot of things in Oz that will try to kill you; even the trees.
That’s right, we live in a land where even the trees are out to get you*.
* This surprises quite a lot of tourists who live in dread terror of being turned into minced-meat while swimming at our beaches, being dragged to a horrible death during a waddle along a saltwater river bank north of the Tropic of Capricorn, getting bitten by a spider, snake or any number of other venomous creatures and swelling to four times their normal size before gasping their last, or simply vanishing in the remote Outback after taking a wrong turn; thank you very much Google Maps!
On the bright side, we took care of that by cutting down quite a lot of trees in the past two hundred years.
In fact, we’re still dropping them faster than a tray of free beers within reach of Barnaby Joyce.
Over the years I’ve experienced numerous near misses from falling branches and one tree which fell over and blew apart like it had been hit by cannon fire just as I walked past it.
How I survived that day (with clean underwear too) is still a mystery.
Now, I’m not proud of this, but I worked in a cemetery and was instrumental in removing several ‘problem’ trees.
I did this because I lived in constant fear of arriving at work each Monday morning and finding one of the many ‘Widow Browns’ lying lifeless under a fallen limb from a giant gum tree.
I also converted several into chip bark after they fell over during wild storms and two flooding events.
To relieve my guilt, I planted quite a lot more trees than I cut down and am delighted to report the new boss hasn’t hacked them down; yet.
This is because most trees within cooee of a township have the life expectancy of slow-moving flies over a trout stream.
For some reason local councils’ hate big trees. My local council dropped all but three of the trees in our main street earlier this year and, it took them years, but the Caloundra City Council eventually found a way to kill most of the beautiful, big shade trees lining their main street a few years ago too.
Happily, they’ve been replaced, but it will be years before the shade, cool and birds return. And when it does, I’m sure some anti-arborist councillor will dream up a new reason to kill them as well.
Which is why on a recent trip to Brisbane I was surprised at how many green spaces and large, ancient trees had been left to continue to grow old around the inner city.
These little sanctuaries of shady coolness are a delight to wander through, sit in, enjoy a snack, perhaps a little nap, or gather your breath before the next round of Pedestrian Car-mageddon.
Urban green spaces may make a developers’ eye twitch, but they’ve been proven to boost mental and physical health, lower stress levels, improve the view, scrub pollutants from the air, reduce the impact of heatwaves and flooding, boost biodiversity and dull the sounds of cars hitting pedestrians.
In short, they’re good for the eye, the soul and wildlife.
Even the trees that are trying to kill us are adding a little excitement to what would otherwise be quite a dull and colourless existence.**
** Our esteemed editor described Los Angeles as a concrete wasteland upon returning from her visit to the USA last year. Ask her about it, she’ll be delighted to describe to you just how horrible it was in intricate detail.
This article first appeared in the Regrow Queensland e-zine. Check it out!