The annual Victorian Tree of the Year contest aims to raise awareness for the conservation of Victoria’s natural heritage and the benefits that significant trees can provide. A river red gum in Bulleen has been named the winner of this year’s contest from a shortlist of ten significant trees selected by the National Trust’s committee from nominations received earlier in the year.
The winning river red gum is located on the corner of Bridge Street and Manningham Road in Bulleen. With a 300-year history, it measures 20 metres high with a canopy spread of 17 metres. The tree was originally saved by a local resident when the rest of the block was cleared to make way for the service station. The river red gum is currently facing possible removal to make way for Melbourne’s North East Link Project that aims to connect the city’s major Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road and Metropolitan Ring Road urban corridors. The National Trust has stated that it intends to call on the state’s North East Link Authority to explore all possible options for the river red gum to be retained.
Chief executive officer of the National Trust (Victoria) Simon Ambrose said the Victorian Tree of the Year contest was extremely important in helping raise awareness of tree conservation and Victoria’s natural heritage.
“We are pleased to see the community get behind the River Red Gum and celebrate the landmark that it has become in the local area,” Ambrose said.
The 2019 Victorian Tree of the Year runner up was a snow gum known as the “King Billy” tree located in Parks Victoria’s Alpine National Park. The tree sits at an altitude of 1,600 metres and is one of the largest specimens known in the Mansfield region, with a canopy spread of close to 20 metres. On the shortlist of trees was a weeping Mexican cypress in Sunbury, a Turkey oak in Ballarat Botanic Gardens and a Tasmanian blue gum known as “The Tree of Knowledge” in Mount Helen.
The Victorian Tree of the Year contest was inaugurated in 2016, with a mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) known as the “Kalatha Giant” – a symbol of bushfire survival for the Toolangi & Castella community after the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 – named the inaugural winner.