My parents moved to still rural Clayton Road in 1950 when I was three. A 9 square red brick two-bedroom home funded through a war service loan, an acorn bearing oak tree grew happily on the nature strip.
Pine trees and cypress hedges dotted the landscape, almost certainly planted by the original farmers. Mr Einsedel, the old German farmer who had owned the land on which our house was built, still lived in a nearby farmhouse and could occasionally be seen breaking in horses and tending cows and calves in the paddock outside our kitchen windows.
Two large pine trees had special significance to me.
The first stood tall in our backyard – some of my earliest memories are of looking out at it through our bedroom window. I remember collecting pinecones and the touch and smell of pine needles. Looking back, I suspect my parents had tried to keep this old tree, however it may have become dangerous so ‘had to go’. Unfortunately, they didn’t explain this to me, and I remember clearly feeling devastated watching through my bedroom window as it was being cut down.
The other pine tree stood outside the new Clayton Hall, not far from the Clayton Railway Station. The local boys enjoyed climbing high up this tree. Less adventurous, I can remember climbing its comfortable lower branches.
I was delighted to find this Facebook post recently in "I grew up in Clayton:..."
“We'd run a mile (we hardly ever walked anywhere) to Clayton Hall. Out front near the road (Clayton Rd) there was an enormous old pine tree with quite a magnificent girth. Five to six feet up, maybe more, there was a 'bowl' formed where branches met. We'd scramble up the trunk, throw a leg over a branch and haul ourselves in. It was a rite of passage needing multiple visits until achieved. Five or six kids could easily fit in. Does anyone remember that tree? ...” Sylvia L
My brother John and I sometimes reminisce about the time a local ‘bully’, we’ll call ‘Barry Bird’, suddenly leapt out of this pine tree as we were walking home from primary school, landing directly in front of us. He accosted John menacingly, saying ‘John Lee, I have a bone to pick with you!’ Now my brother, John, who had just that day returned to school after being very ill, was also my best friend and kindred spirit. I was so angry! ‘Leave him alone, you bully!!’ I yelled at Barry. I apparently defended John with such gusto, dressing Barry down verbally with such energy and anger, that Barry rather sheepishly let us past!
Pine trees featured large in my life during the twenty years I owned a miner’s cottage on Wombat Hill, near the now Convent Gallery, in Daylesford. Wombat Hill is covered with pine trees. I loved walking through them or standing at the back of my cottage looking up at them, towering above me. Sadly, at one stage I had to make the difficult decision to ask my neighbours, who had a pine tree on the border of our properties, whether, if I paid half, they would agree to have one tree removed. I’d been advised that it would fall downhill towards my cottage it if it fell.
Visiting my uncle’s farm at Molyullah as a child had introduced me to gum trees – but they had been completely cleared near his house in his efforts to develop a viable farm on marginal, rocky land. It seemed he was forever “ring barking” gum trees. Camping in the bush while at university and teaching in the country for many years developed my love of gum treed landscapes, though often the houses in which I lived had Pine Trees and Cypress Hedges outside, possibly as wind breaks.
Returning to Benalla 24 years ago, with by now a great affection for gum trees, I chose to buy a house with four large gum trees in the garden. Two had to be cut down over time as they were near electricity and fence lines. Seedlings and suckers have had to be removed over the years.
Two cherished gum trees remain which I have paid quite a lot of money over time to keep safe. I’d prefer not to have them cut down ‘on my watch’. One is quite young, healthy and strong, however the other, like me has aged, weakened and somewhat arthritic branches …
Sadly, like the old pine tree in Clayton Road so many years ago, and the pine tree on my neighbour’s property boundary in Daylesford, it may soon ‘have to go’….