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Royal Botanic Gardens Memorial, Mrs. Macquarie's Drive, Woolloomooloo

History

Introduction

Tree Planting Ceremony, 7th October, 1995

The idea was born in the year 1995 which was the "Year of Australia Remembers", 50 years after the end of World War 2. The late Ron Foster suggested that members of the 2/30 Battalion Association meet at one of the hotels opposite the Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo from which the Unit sailed on the 29th July, 1941 for Singapore. Most of the surviving members of the Battalion returned to the same wharf on the 9th October, 1945.

The suggestion was considered but it was decided to write to Professor C. Chambers, Director of the Botanic Gardens, requesting permission to plant a tree in memory of their return. Approval was given and staff prepared a site opposite the Henry Lawson Gate, overlooking Woolloomooloo Bay. The Association's former President and Patron, Ron Maston, with Associate Members Bob Brown and Robyn Lowndes met with Steve Corbett, Curator, on 10th May, 1995 to plan for the tree planting on Saturday, 7th October, 1995. The Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency the Honourable A.M. Gleeson accepted an invitation to plant the tree.

When the tree was planted in 1995, a temporary plaque was attached to a small piece of granite at its base. The following year, the large granite stone, weighing one ton, was brought down from the Armidale district by Stonemason, Ray Gaites of Tamworth, to replace the original piece. His Excellency, The Hon. A.M. Gleeson, Lt. Governor for N.S.W, and later, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, unveiled the new plaque.

A team of our Associates, led by Marilyn McKnight, provided morning tea in the grounds of the Lion Gate Lodge. Marilyn's late mother, Nancy McKnight and "Makan" Editor, Robyn Lowndes, with other young Associates, provided plates of sandwiches and cakes for the post ceremony luncheon. Others who contributed to the organisation that first day were the late Bruce Ford, John Jackson, James O'Rourke, Bob Brown, lain Huntley, Peter Blomfield, Ruth Crispin, Penelope and Michael Holden and Paula Winchester. Andrei Huntley acted as personal assistant to then President, Ron Maston. Saturday the 7th October, 1995 was a lovely Summer day and some 200 persons were present.

In 2001 it was agreed to add a second plaque to the Memorial to pay tribute to families and friends of the men of the 2/30 Bn. who endured years of waiting, without news of their fate.

The memorial tree, is commonly known as a "Rusty Fig", Botanical name "Ficus Destruens" which means "Destroying, ruining" a probable reference to its strangling habit. It is a large fig from the highlands area of North Queensland. It grows in rainforests and is noted for its conspicuous rusty foliage, which is particularly attractive in windy weather.

The trees were often retained during land clearing operations as they provide excellent shade and shelter for live stock and dwellings. Young plants are decorative as container subjects and can be used successfully indoors. Maybe its characteristics of strength and versatility are symbolic of the men who served with the 2/30 Battalion in war and as prisoner's of war.

(Source: Makan No. 340, February, 2004)

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Last updated 28/01/2012