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Orange's old oak tree is dead, and council would like to know why

The old oak tree is done for. Supplied/Digitally enhanced.

May 17, 2022

By David Fitzsimons

The mysterious death of Orange’s “old oak tree” has sparked major debate at Tuesday night's council meeting.

The 120-year-old Pin Oak, which was described as healthy by an expert only four years ago, has now been declared dead.

Several years ago a nine-lot residential development was approved for the site on Borrodell Drive, on the proviso the tree was preserved.

An amendment to that approval now requests the tree be chopped down as it has died.

While staff recommended the approval be granted, the council has instead agreed to defer the matter until the cause of the tree’s death can be investigated.

Councillor Tony Mileto said the investigation should be paid for by the developer.

He said the cause of death was not clear and he was concerned a possible unknown disease may have led to the tree’s death.

“If there is a disease which could be sweeping through the town then we need to know about that,” he said.

“We are the Colour City. We certainly don’t need other trees just dying without any reason.”

Councillor Kevin Duffy called for council to approve the DA request to remove the tree.

“The tree is actually dead,” he said. "It’s not going to come back, it’s not Lazarus.”

Other councillors said they were concerned that as a cause of death had not yet been determined an investigation was needed.

Council received five public submissions opposing the tree’s demolition.

In the public forum section of Tuesday’s meeting a neighbour, Deirdre Leslie, called for an independent investigation into the tree’s death.

She said the property had been owned by the Gartrell family in Orange from about 1940 before being sold to the Gleeson family.

The applicant Gavin Gleeson told the council meeting he was pleased with the council staff recommendation to approve the tree’s removal.

He described it as a “beloved” tree.

Gleeson said the former land owner and Orange orchardist and vigneron, Borry Gartrell, who died last year, had also been fond of the tree.

“I had a visit from Borry just a few weeks before his death to say goodbye to his old oak tree,” he said.

In other council news it agreed to call for a report into allowing fishing at Suma Park Dam, as well as upgrading fishing facilities at other recreational dam areas including Gosling Creek and Lake Canobolas.


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