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Chainsaws and a snow storm prove too much for Orange's Lone Pine

June 28, 2022

The Lone Pine has seen better days. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

Orange's Lone Pine has stood for decades, but ultimately it was no match for electrical contractors brandishing chainsaws and a heavy snowstorm.

With the tree bent, twisted and dying, Orange City Council is making plans for its replacement.

"The tree was left disfigured several years ago after contract tree crews working for the electricity supplier removed large branches," said council. "The weight of a heavy snowstorm last year caused further structural damage to the crown of the tree."

Despite council efforts to reshape the tree and Essential Energy relocating the overhead power line, the Lone Pine has not recovered its natural shape.

The story of the Lone Pine. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Orange mayor Jason Hamling said council is now preparing for a time when the tree can be replaced.

“This tree and the story of how it was grown from stock brought back from Gallipoli is an important part of Orange’s history,” Hamling said.

“I’m pleased our parks team has been able to source a number of new plants, and we’ll grow those on until they get to a suitable size.”

President of the Orange RSL sub-branch Chris Colvin welcomed plans to replace the tree.

“Now that the overhead power line has been moved, the new tree will be able to grow into a good shape, that will last for many years to come,” Colvin said.

Bit all over the place. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“The current tree is on its last legs and the Orange RSL sub-branch supports the replacement."

He said it was not feasible to take seedlings from the current Lone Pine as it would take years for them to grow, and that was time they didn't have.

Colvin said that when the time comes to remove the tree, the low wall that surrounds it will be restored, "and the new Lone Pine will be in a great setting".

It is anticipated the tree will be replaced in approximately two years.

The Orange tree is a variety known as an Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis).

Seven new plants have been bought from a nursery that collects seed from a tree growing in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial, which can be traced back to the original Lone Pine at Gallipoli.

“The new plants are now about 1.2 metres tall," Hamling said. "Our parks staff will look after them until they’ve reached a size where they can be planted.

“As well as a replacement for the damaged Lone Pine, we’ll look to plant the new trees in the Botanic Gardens, at the cemetery and perhaps near the cenotaph in Robertson Park.”

The Lone Pine in Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The story of the Lone Pine

On August 6, 1915, the 1st Australian Infantry Division launched a major offensive at Plateau 400 on Gallipoli.

The ridges, once covered with the Aleppo pine, had been cleared to provide cover for the Turkish trenches, leaving just one, solitary pine.

The area became known as Lone Pine Ridge.

After three days of brutal fighting the Anzacs succeeded in capturing the enemy trenches, but this bloody action cost the Australians 2,000 men.

The Turks’ losses were estimated at 7,000.

After the battle, Lance Corporal Benjamin Charles Smith, 3rd Battalion AIF, collected several pine cones from the branches used to cover the Turkish trenches.

He sent the cones home to his mother, Jane McMullin, in remembrance of his brother Mark, who had died in the fighting on August 6.

From one of these cones Mrs McMullin sowed several seeds, and successfully raised two seedlings.

One was planted in Inverell, where both her sons had enlisted. The other was presented to the Australian War Memorial, to be planted in the grounds in honour of all the sons who fell at Lone Pine.

- Australian War Memorial



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