Projects // Tree Stories II
In 1999 my book Tree Stories was published by Chapter and Verse and Australian Geographic. So popular was the book that its print run of 5,000 copies sold out shortly afterwards. The book was essentially an essay about the potency of trees in our lives. It was not a book that classified species of trees, rather it classified trees in more humanistic ways. I saw trees as metaphors. How we treated trees, how we valued trees and how we included trees in the personal stories of our lives formed a compelling narrative.
Fast forward 15 years and I was invited to record a particularly powerful fig tree on the mid-north coast of NSW at Kinchela. This massive tree grew at the Kinchela Boys Home, a 'training farm' for Aboriginal boys removed from their familes during the Stolen Generations. Boys as young at 7 were chained to this tree overnight as punishment. The anchor for the chain can still be seen, emerging from the trunk today (The home finally closed in 1970). In October 2015 during a reunion of survivors of the Kinchela Boys Home, the former interns agreed to be photographed under this tree, despite many of them holding fearful recollections of this place.
The Kinchela tree has rekindled my desire to collect new stories and update other stories of trees. If you have a tree story you would like to share, please contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org
I also visited the Collymongle carved trees in far-north NSW. These trees were removed from their original ceremonial site on Banaway Bora Ground in the early 1940’s.