Woman's narrow miss as sacred tree sheds branches


p2410 sacred gumtree 1By ERWIN CHLANDA
A loud crash startled walkers in the Mall and patrons at Sporties at 4:25pm on Sunday. They found two heavy branches had broken away from the trunk of the most famous and oldest gumtree in town, sacred to local Aborigines, in Parsons Street, just a few metres from the intersection with the mall.
The branches were still wedged in the tree but their outer ends had crashed onto the railing of the balcony of the Alice Plaza shopping centre.
Had they fallen to the ground they may have killed a women who was walking beneath them at the moment they broke off.
It’s not the first that time the tree was the cause of a near disaster: Some years ago, a big branch fell on well-known athlete Noel Harris but he escaped major injury.
Councillor Steve Brown, the chairman of the town council’s parks committee, says “sooner or later someone will be killed” but urgent lopping of the old gum, which he had urged to be done on several occasions is running into red tape: Approval from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) has to be sought before it’s done.
“There should not be that kind of bureaucratic obstacle,” says Cr Brown. “This absurdity has gone on for long enough.”
The council should have the power to make decisions about lopping sacred trees in its own right, with advice from an arborist.
Council workers have removed the two broken branches.
The Alice Springs News Online is seeking comment from the AAPA. Last time we did, in November last year, in connection with sacred tree on the Melanka block, the AAPA did not respond to our request.
UPDATE Tuesday 3:13 pm
The Town Council announced today that it will begin discussions with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority regarding any further action that may be required.


  1. Build a sturdy protection for people to walk under the tree which would protect them from falling branches.

  2. I hope the council has billed the AAPA for the cleanup. What chance the building owners can get damages from AAPA?
    Then also there could be a payout from AAPA for the woman for related stress and future uneasiness when walking near trees?

  3. Well, council is on notice.
    Aware of the risk to human injury or life. If a tragedy happens they will be accountable and liable.
    Who will pay, of course the taxpayers.
    Common sense is really not that common. Consult with Aboriginal agency, really, why, are they above the protection of society?

  4. I see two issues here.
    In the first, there is no debate that there exist song-lines / dreamtime stories / sacred sites within Alice Springs.
    And there’s the rub – within Alice Springs, an urban environment.
    While everyone acknowledges the manifest reality of local Indigenous culture, AAPA needs to acknowledge in turn that an expectation of public safety is not unreasonable.
    And if that means lopping branches, then lop the branches.
    In the second issue, Alice Springs Town Council must find some way to navigate the paralysis that can come with excessive adherence to political correctness.

  5. @ Concerned: More than a few of us at a reasonably distant time past did decide that as common sense was not any longer common then what it is that we are calling for is uncommon sense which does not mean to say it will be any easier to find these days.

  6. Surely Alice Springs Town Council, as a third tier of government, can consult with the AAPA in the same way that government consults with us, namely: “Dear AAPA, we have trimmed a number of your sacred trees in the interests of public safety.” End of consultation.

  7. One day, the tree will grow old and die just like everything else. What is the protocol for dealing with a dying sacred tree shedding branches or one that is rotting into the ground?
    At what stage does a dead tree lose the status of sacred? When it is a stump, sawdust or a hole in the ground?
    I am in no way being facetious because these trees have a legal status and there must therefore be a definition for the tree’s life cycle.
    My mother’s ashes are buried at the foot of a native tree. The tree gets trimmed when needed or when it intrudes into my neighbor’s yard.
    It is still sacred, but just a lot safer for human beings whose lives are also sacred.

  8. Had a good laugh, you have got to kidding me! Once again the Australian tax payer has to foot the bill .

  9. Editor, can we please verify what trees we’re talking about here?
    For instance, “Surprised” appears to be sneering at AAPA but is it possible that the trees on Bloomfield he is talking about were planted and are probably the responsibility of the Town Council?
    I know this letter is part of a series but it can also be read as stand alone so surely some-one, perhaps the originator has a responsibility to clarify and retract if these claims are wrong.


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