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800-year-old scarred tree memorialised with nod from elders

The base of an 800-year-old tree has been given a permanent resting place in the centre of RAAF Base Amberley.

The tree is culturally significant because it has a scar created by local Aboriginals removing bark to create a coolamon.

Coolamons were used by Aboriginals to carry water or fruit and nuts, and in some cases cradle babies.

The tree lay at the end of the base’s runway for many years before Commanding Officer 36 Squadron Wing Commander Steve Ferguson worked with Aboriginal elders to find the best way to preserve it for future generations.

Yugara elder Aunty Lillie Davidson said she was confident her ancestors would have approved of their efforts.

“I was watching the hills and I could see the trees swaying in approval,” she said.

“That lets me know they are pleased about what we have done.”

Commanding Officer 36 Squadron Wing Commander Steve Ferguson, Yugara elder Aunty Lillie Davidson and Yugarapul elder Roberta Graham.

A passage from the plaque:

The Yuggera and Ugarapul elders hope that all who pass this scarred tree pause and reflect how the traditional people once lived here in perfect partnership with this land.

The elders also hope that those of us who fly from here to all corners of the globe return safely to pass the scarred tree again in a continued cycle of reflection, peace and harmony.

A collaboration between the Yugarapul people, Yugara people and defence members saw the creation of a garden with the scarred tree memorialised on stone at the top.

The grass trees are like warriors forming a guard of honour and the circles in the garden are representative of dot paintings.

Aunty Lillie Davidson removed some soil from the original site and place it under where the tree now rests in the garden, its final resting place.

When this tree was living, it would still be 500 years into the future before colonisation and 720 years away from the land being used as a Defence base.

Indigenous Liaison Officer Amberley FLTLT Kristal House believes the display will give a greater understand among Defence members having the tree at the entryway to the flight line.

“This is a great way to preserve our ancestors’ history,” she said.

“The scarred tree reflects how the local people lived.”

Yugarapul elder Roberta Graham is pleased the tree will now be preserved.

“It’s a very special for us to go get acknowledged for our culture,” she said.

“Our culture is continuing, it will never stop we have been here for over 60,000 years.”

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