At sunset on Anzac Day we planted an Aleppo Pine (pinus halepensis), a descendent of the Lone Pine at the centre of the 1915 battle at Gallipoli in Turkey. I don’t usually plant non-native trees, but this one was special.
The Rev. Peter Dillon, a former Army Chaplain, and Dad of our neighbour Leonie, gave a moving speech about the war, a prayer and a reading of the Ode of Remembrance by Laurence Binyan – the one that goes “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old…”
We planted the seedling on a ridge that lies between Esdale and neighbouring Mulliondale, where it can be admired from both sides when it grows big enough to peer over the top of its protective guard. The fierce wind may push it into an interesting shape. We won’t encourage any seedlings, as it’s intended to stay Lone. It’s good to have something to remember the huge sacrifices others have made, in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 and in other wars before and since.
I also see it as a testament of hope for a better, more peaceful future.
Every tree we plant, really, is an expression of optimism. We hope that they will grow and thrive and promote local wildlife. With them, we’re increasing the biodiversity of the denuded landscape. We hope they will be tough enough to survive a changing climate. We hope the people and animals alive a hundred years from now will enjoy their shelter.
The other 190 trees and shrubs we planted earlier on Anzac Day form part of a grand scheme to re-link Australia’s forests all the way down the 3600 kilometres of the eastern ranges. Last year we made five small tree clusters linking Mullion Creek with the Murrumbidgee. This year we continued that link across the river up to the Dog Trap Road thanks to a grant from the 25th Anniversary of Landcare. By adding a few small enclosures, we are making 3.4 kilometres of wildlife links.
The weather was fickle, but our crew of wonderful volunteers was undeterred.
Luckily we didn’t have the hail that hit Yass, or the heavy rain that bucketed down on Murrumbateman. Most of the rain politely went around us, although with a lot of grumbling thunder. And then we got the beautiful rainbow.
Lest we forget.