From Blue Mountains folk, they took all the trees

 
 Sad Sight:    Blue Mountains resident Aanya Mary
devastated by the senseless slaughter of Bullaburra’s Angophora
Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
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But to road engineers with Sydney’s RTA-come-RMS:
“..it was just the easy and efficient option”
..in order that more B-Doubles get line-of-sight through Bullaburra as they nudge 90kph to keep their job
[Source:  ‘Centuries-old tree makes way for highway upgrade’, 20130410, by Shane Desiatnik, Blue Mountains Gazette, p.13,
^http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/1419083/bullaburra-tree-makes-way-for-highway-widening/]
‘You don’t know what you’ve got
till it’s gone’

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Two generations after the 1960s grassroots protests against corporate environmental destruction and corrupted government bullying justification of ‘progress’, nothing has changed.

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Public display of Government slaughter of local heritage
“Let this be a lesson that Sydney rules over you.”
(But Bullaburra is not 1940’s Poland; we are not Sydney)
[Photo by Editor, 20130406, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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They Took All the Trees

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They took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum” (Joni Mitchell, 1970), yet forty years hence we’re still killing 300 year old native trees for a ‘paved paradise.’

Back in September 2008, a communiqué released by the RTA-come-RMS confirmed that this heritage listed red gum (photo) alongside the highway at Bullaburra was to be killed to widen the highway.  It didn’t give a reason to the community, but in its Review of Environmental Effectsjustified the tree’s demise by requiring line of sight for more trucks so they can hurtle through Bullaburra at a new increased speed of 80kph, but nudging 90.

Great Western Highway paved paradise
[Photo by Editor, 20110115, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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The implication was to not just widen the existing highway and make it safer, but to carve a trucking expressway through as though no Bullaburra community existed; just like they did to neighbouring Lawson and Wentworth Falls, and the other now divided highway towns and villages along the Great Western Highway.  And the lessons from the even wider and faster M4 motorway down the hill is that the outcomes have not made the journey safer.  Statistically, faster and bugger trucks have made the M4 motorway and the already widened sections of the Great Western Highway, even more dangerous.

Killing Bullaburra’s Tree was wrong like an invading army shooting surrendering locals because it is inconvenient to imprison them.  To the RTA-come-RMS, decimating local amenity is but collateral damage.   Any wonder propaganda pamphlets were not dropped over the village in the weeks leading up to the carnage like the US did in the Vietnam War.

Widening the highway is the wrong encouragement for an efficient NSW freight system and won’t address road safety.  The widening is destroying local heritage and community values. It is politically short-sighted on all counts.

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Protest 6 years ago in October 2007 to save this healthy heritage tree
A tree that predated colonial Australia of 1788
An expendable victim of an ambivalent Blue Mountains Council’s
‘Significant Tree Register’ of community deceit.
[Photo by Editor, 20071028, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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Blue Mountains Significant Tree Register – deceitful faux conservation

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Bullaburra’s Angophora was a rare symbolic remnant of the dominant Angophora Forest habitat that once flourished in the Bullaburra area and which has earned listing on council’s Register of Significant Trees.

Consultation with a local (Level 5) arborist with expertise in Angophoras, had confirmed the tree an Angophora costata and “between 200 and 300 years old and that if given the chance will survive between 400 and 600 years.”  So it predated Bullaburra (1924) and predated the colonisation of Australia (1788).

Why did  local Blue Mountains Council turn its back on its own heritage register and on Mountains heritage.  Had traditional owners been consulted?

Blue Mountains Council’s  Significant Trees were in 1988 registered under Development Control Plan 9 (DCP9): the purpose of which was to identify and protect those trees listed on the Register; promote greater public awareness of the existence of the Register, and the individual items listed; ensure existing and, importantly, prospective land owners, are made aware of the Significant Trees which may be located on their property; and ensure correct on-going care and maintenance of those trees listed, through the recommendations included with the significant tree register.

DCP 9 was formally adopted in 21 June 1988 and since then had effected no legal weight or meaning.   The tens of thousands spent on the plan then and since has been a financial misappropriation.

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Bullaburra’s Angophora
circa 1700 – 1st April 2013
A familar Blue Mountains icon that withstood ^Robber Baron Progress  for 300+ years
Council ratified to the people in writing that it was a protected ‘Significant Tree
Until Bob Debus and the RTA-come-RMS expressway arrogance imposed its Sydney industrialist will.
[Photo by Editor, 20130406, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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The then Federal Member for Macquarie (Blue Mountains), Bob Debus MP, openly supported and encouraged the RTA-come-RMS in its highway widening through Blue Mountains communities.

Debus had publicly praised the RTA for “doing exemplary work in consultation with…local communities.”  (Blue Mountains Gazette 20081126).

Yet this Editor, who for the past seven years has observed and participated in numerous RTA-come-RMS community consultation workshops dealing with the Trucking Expressway mission along the Great Western Highway, has found all ‘community consultation’ to be but a recurring deceitful farce designed purely for public relations and so that on paper, community consultation was legally ‘seen to be done’.

The Juggernaut Cake was baked, and the community herded and selected to choose the colour of the icing.  So thanks for coming dumb peasants!

Photo by Editor, 20130406, Photo © ^Creative Commons

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The sad thing is that we see each community hoodwinked one by one, losing rights and amenity to an expanding Sydney conurbation of our Mountains.  How many minutes will widening cut through the Mountains only to be added back in Sydney congestion and the chronic truck queues at Port Botany?   If widening claims to address highway safety why does the six-lane M4 have the highest accident rate in the State?

Debus has publicly been the key driver of the highway widening and increased traffic policy prepared to splurge half a billion dollars to encourage more trucks on our roads and committing a teetering NSW Government already heading into deficit.  Debus’ myopic fixation with trucks has cast him as a reckless pariah against the Federal government’s promise of meeting Kyoto emission targets.  He and his babyboomer age group seem locked in a truck-centric mindset, one that is anti-rail like Premier Nick Greiner’s condemning of freight rail  (1988-92) and like US President Eisenhower’s industrial superhighway ruination of Northern America back in the 1950s.

[Source:  ‘They took all the trees’, 20081203, letter in the Blue Mountains Gazette local newspaper, in print]

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They took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum..

by Canadian singer, composer and lyricist Joni Mitchell from her classic hit ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ from her album ‘Ladies of the Canyon’ released in April 1970.

Joni Mitchell’s single cover
Her original recording was this single, but then released later on her album ‘Ladies of the Canyon’  (1970)
Yet forty three years hence dear lady and what have we learnt from your sad message about the bulldozing of Nature?

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“Big Yellow Taxi” became a hit in Joni’s native Canada (#14) as well as Australia (#6) and the UK (#11).

Joni:   “I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”

The song is known for its environmental concern – “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot” and “Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now”.

Joni Mitchell in 1970

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The song line “They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum…and charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em”  refers to Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered.

A wedding in Foster Botanical Garden, Hawaii
[Source:  ^http://www.alohaislandweddings.com/foster_botanical_gardens.htm]

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These days, Honolulu’s Foster Botanical Garden has become home to hundreds of species of endangered Hawaiian and other exotic plants.  The garden’s mission is to plan, develop, curate, maintain and study documented collections of tropical plants in an aesthetic setting for the purposes of conservation, botany, horticulture, education, and recreation. While it is very important to teach people about the natural flora of Hawaii, it is a shame that they have to be kept in such a tree museum and are not able to be appreciated in their natural settings.

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Colonising destruction of Natural Hawaii

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Bullaburra’s Angophora was that roadside tree, always there, estimated to be between up to 200 and 300 years old, but took only a few hours to chop down to a stump on April Fools Day to clear the way for highway widening work in Bullaburra.

The decision to remove the tree listed on council’s Significant Tree Register was made back in 2009.  This is the coniving strategy of the RTA-come RMS employeing those with degrees in ‘Media Communications’ – this 21C black art of corporate propaganda.  Move over 20th C Used Car Salesmen,  Y-Gens in Media Communications are the new low-life to be avoided.

But the shock of seeing the 30-metre tall smooth-barked apple red gum being removed was too much for some local residents, who gathered beside it to take photos and quietly reflect.

Katoomba resident Aanya Mary said she was devastated by the loss of the tree and the public not being told when it was going to be removed.  She called the decision to chop it “the easy and efficient option” and questioned if other solutions were thoroughly considered.

“This tree would have seen generations of Gundungurra and Darug people rest under its boughs and no doubt [the explorers] Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth passed its gracious trunk.”

In a callous afterthought, the RTA-come-RMS has offered to use wood of the tree to create ukuleles and furniture.  Can Chopin’s funeral march be played on a Ukele?

Some callous bureaucrat in the RTA-come-RMS suggested using the Angophora wood to make stupid Ukeles
Not even into traditional Aboriginal instruments, weapons or tools. 
The minds at RMS Paramatta head office are urbane and bewildered.

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Yet others, more attached to the tree and aware of the behind the scenes political deceit, have suggested making council coffins for those who signed off on the Angophora’s demise.

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[Source:  ‘Bullaburra tree makes way for highway widening’, 20130410, by Shane Desiatnik, journalist, Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper, p.13,  ^http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/1419083/bullaburra-tree-makes-way-for-highway-widening/]

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[Photo by Editor, 20130406, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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Blue Mountains failure to preserve Natural History

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<<The sudden and surreptitious removal of the mature heritage-listed Eucalypt at Bullaburra last week was avoidable and a total failure of our ability to preserve our natural history.

That tree was the property of the Blue Mountains community just as much as the community hall at Bullaburra.

When it can be arranged for the highway widening to bypass the community hall, there is no reason it couldn’t be diverted around another significant  and far older landmark.

Not only did Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth pass close by this tree in 1813 but the following year the first road was built almost under its branches.  The year after, 1815, Lachlan Macquarie and his entourage passed by this tree as the first public users of the road through the Blue Mountains.  In the 1830s Charles Darwin also made the journey passed it.

Blue Mountains (..) Council has failed miserably to protect our natural history. It’s also obvious how totally toothless is the rhetoric around the Significant Tree Register.

The RTA-come-RMS suggestion to make use of the wood is an attempt to sidetrack and trivialises its destruction.  Who needs a symbol of the endurance of natural beauty when you can have ukeleles and matches?

Trees like this are the Blue Mountains community’s natural history – not the RTA-come-RMS’s.

The bottom line is there is no legislation to protect our natural history, and any clowns with clout can get their way.

Why doesn’t the Blue Mountains (..) Council stand up for us and for  the naturakl environment in matters like these?>>

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[Source:  ‘Heritage tree’ (discretionary label by BMG editor), 20130417, by P.D. Bonney, of Faulconbridge, letter to the editor, in Blue Mountains Gazette (local newspaper), page 4, print only]

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To passers-by this is just another log, like heritage ignored
and so unknowingly foresaken and lost forever.
[Photo by Editor, 20130406, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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Ed:  But when Government comes intimidating the homes and amenity of these passers-by?  So loud the NYMBY’s plead for community support.

To reliable taxpayer-funded bureaucrats inside RTA-come-RMS, community NYMBYISM has become a strategic community vunerabilty so exploited to known consultant formalae.  But so unprepared are communities like the Blue Mountains for exploitation that they are prone to and succumb to industrial rape, village by village, and cleverly silenced by the consultants.

But once the Government’s omnipotent Juggenaut invasion arrives and the overwhelming household helplessness, locals try selling up in vain and a few commit quiet, unreported suicide.   It is ultimately then, that Government has come, seen and conquered its own taxpayers so that such issues shrink from mainstream media, are excluded from government statistics and so are relegated into invisiblity, the history cleansed and revised by the government consultants.


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