End of an Era for Tree

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Former Diamond Tree fire spotter Doreen Owens said she had fond memories of her time working there.
Camera IconFormer Diamond Tree fire spotter Doreen Owens said she had fond memories of her time working there. Credit: Holly Thompson

The removal of climbing pegs has marked the end of an era for the historic Diamond Tree attraction after a significant amount of rot was found in its base.

The tree was first transformed into a bushfire lookout almost 78 years ago and was used for this purpose until 1973.

Members of the general public were able to climb the tree in the following decades, turning the historic site into a tourist attraction.

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Donnelly district manager Duncan Palmer said the choice to remove the pegs last week had been made to keep people safe.

“The internal integrity of the Diamond Tree was measured and serious rot was found so it was recommended we stop people climbing up,” he said.

“Although the base is compromised I do not think the tree is at risk of falling over now no one will be climbing it, but we will continue to monitor this just in case.”

He said while it was sad the tree had to close, the decision had highlighted community attachment to the historic site.

“Everyone is reminiscing about their experiences at the tree and it has been wonderful to see,” he said.

Doreen Owens, who used to work at Diamond Tree as a fire spotter back in the 1950s, said she had many fond memories of her time there.

“From the tower you can see the radio tower at Yornup, over the top of Pemberton and the Yeagerup dunes on the coast,” she said.

“I used to work with the other lookouts in the area to pinpoint the location of fires and we were very accurate with our readings, usually within about 100 metres of where the fire was.”

Mrs Owens said although she understood the decision to close the tree, she was disappointed no one else would be able to experience the climb.

Bushfire Front chairman Roger Underwood said he was also disappointed with the decision to close the tree.

“The Diamond Tree lookout has been there for over 75 years, weathering cyclones and innumerable winter storms,” he said.

“Moreover it was extensively reconstructed a few years ago and the work done at that time was based on assessments by expert timber engineers and experienced foresters.

“In my view this tree would have been safe for climbing for many years to come.”

The two other fire-spotting trees in the area, the Gloucester Tree and the Bicentennial Tree, remain open for people to climb.

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