This tree is significant and historic on a number of fronts. If you are a resident within the City of Bayswater and are not aware of its significance then please read on….
I have long heard about this olive tree being significant to the City of Bayswater, and after visiting it a couple of times over the last two weeks thought I’d explore, and share, the facts. It also comes up in an interview I had with WestTV:
This olive tree is considered “famous” and it “is the oldest remnant of European habitation in the district”. (May 2006 p. 34) It is thought to have been planted in the early 1840’s by Mrs Whalan of Guildford. In the 1890’s it became a meeting place for a small Baptist congregation which was the first “united in Church Fellowship” gathering to emerge in the area. The small congregation included Henry Halliday and Mrs Stone. (May 2013) I presume this is whom Halliday Reserve and Stone Street are named after.
In the 1930’s, with the first pioneer Italian families arriving, the olive tree “gained a new following as Italian people gathered there for the communal olive harvest”. (May 2013 p.187)
May (2013) writes that the current City of Bayswater emblem is based on this olive tree. The City of Bayswater writes that the emblem features a stylised olive tree and the colours and features of the logo also hold significance. The central cog of the emblem represents industry and commerce; the roots, trunk and leaves identify the past, continuing strength and future growth. The colours of the logo include green and yellow, depicting the natural environment, and red represents the arteries of transport and other vital services provided by the City to its ratepayers.
So this olive tree offers history and heritage value to numerous sections of the community and was recognised with a plaque and placed on the Swan river heritage trail as part of Australia’s bicentennial project.
Unfortunately the plaque is as far as the recognition went. At some time in the recent past (I believe pre- 1995) it was butchered and cut back to waist height by Western Power (then known as SECWA – State Energy Commission of Western Australia) whilst some overhead power lines were being installed. I am not sure whether SECWA did this destruction without consulting the City, or whether the City approved it.
Looking at the olive tree today it would appear that not much care has been provided since the ‘bicentennial project’ plaque was placed; presumably some 27 years ago. I’d like to see a tree of such significance be properly cared for and properly recognised. As May (2013) writes, the reason the olive tree was featured on the front cover of ‘Changes They’ve Seen’ (the history of the City of Bayswater) is that “the venerable olive tree” was already a landmark in the 1930’s. How sad if it is not considered such any more.
If you’d like to visit this historic tree (which has grown back after the butchering), ‘x’ marks the spot and you can park directly opposite:
Be warned though, there appears to be a bee hive there, but as my eldest (Peter – 8 yrs) said today when I was telling him I wanted to have the tree cleaned up and properly cared for, “don’t hurt the bees, it seems like a nice spot for them to live”.
If you are aware of any further information on this tree, please share by commenting below.
Power to the people.
May, C (1997), ‘CHANGES THEY’VE SEEN The City and People of Bayswater 1827-1997′, City of Bayswater, Morley.
May, C (2013), ‘CHANGES THEY’VE SEEN The City and People of Bayswater 1827-2013‘, City of Bayswater, Morley.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater.)