Memorial Grove

It was not until Alf experienced a health alert in 2005 that he started to question his mortality. This precipitated a discussion on what his wishes were, in how he would be remembered. To this end initial moves were put in place to accommodate his wishes – to have a grove of trees at Creswick as a memorial.

Alf did not want flowers, which are nice while they last, at his funeral, but rather he hoped that we would spend the money on purchasing seedlings and saplings to be planted in his memory.

The outpouring of donations has been overwhelming, especially when Alf's funeral coincided with the inception of the worst bushfires in recorded Australian history and the call for relief donations. We, Alf's family, thank everyone for their generosity.

The Memorial Grove at Creswick is starting to take shape, and its continuing progress will be recorded here.

27 April 2009

The following is a partical transcript of a speech given by Ronald Hateley on the site for the Memorial Grove

"When I first became aware that Alf wanted a grove of trees planted I wasn't too sure exactly what he meant. I wasn't envisioning a great plantation block or anything like that, but went away and thought about it a bit and figured there were two things that needed to be considered. One was a prominent location and that is difficult here: the grounds are so large and you could really plant trees anywhere. But I gave it a bit of thought and felt that if we could knock out some of the rubbishy plantings between us here and the school's entrance gates, and anticipate further losses from the drought, we have got plenty of room for a decent grove of trees. The other criterion I considered was that we needed something of scientific value or interest and for that reason I homed in on the idea of rediscovered fossil trees.

The idea of that was that at least into the future there will be trees in a group here that represent those that were originally known as fossils only and in (relatively) recent years have actually been found in the wild.

I'll talk about three examples, each of which involves an interesting story. This is illustrated by the stump behind me, a tree that recently succumbed to the drought. That was a Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and it was really special because it came from the first seed collected in 1948 after it had been discovered in central China in 1941. There are very few institutions around the world that were given seeds from this first collection but our forestry school was one of them. It was the celebrated tree at the time because of its very rapid growth. The second tree we will put somewhere here is Gingko (Ginkgo biloba), another one that was discovered relatively recently. It wasn't found in the wild but it had been kept in cultivation by monks in China and Japan.  The third is the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), discovered in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in 1994: our own local example of a rediscovered tree.

We will plant trees of advanced size and not seedlings: we'll do it properly. We can't do anything obviously at the moment because of the drought, and the fact that we have no water. We've just got to wait now until the drought breaks but we'll be well prepared when that happens. We will put a lot of effort into site preparation.

I believe that some people who have contributed to Alf's memorial have nominated tree species they would like to be included in the grove, and they certainly will be.

17 April 2009
This was the date for the "unveiling" of the location, along with a memorial plaque took place. More details, and photographs will be displayed here shorlty.

 24 March 2009

Plans for the memorial grove are progressing nicely with the commissioning of a plaque to be mounted on a respectable quartz rock that Leon Bren has already located in the Creswick area.

It is proposed that the grove will be in the prettiest part of the forestry school grounds, an area that has suffered from death of specimen trees in recent years due to drought so the idea is to replant these and effectively rehabilitate the area. Unfortunately the School soils are very poor and so will present a challenge for the gardener. None the less the gardener does well and is enthusiastic about the project.
Ron Hateley who is working on the “grove” design has decided on  'fossil' trees as they are species of scientific interest, and will represent an international collection of tree specimens. “In his self-deprecating way, Alf would probably have deemed this as appropriate and if we'd discussed it we'd have had a quiet chuckle together. I'm keen to plant trees that have some meaning, rather than those whose  appeal is just decorative.”