There is a gum tree on the river bank at Calvert that is about 468 years old.
The tree is believed to be self-sown in around 1550, predating European settlement by 238 years.
Putting the date into perspective, Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, had just published a book suggesting that the Earth was not in fact the centre of the universe.
He suggested that Earth is actually orbiting the Sun and the Earth rotates daily, annually and tilts on its axis.
Spain was the superpower in the world and was busy battling the Italians and Mexicans.
Bloody Mary was burning her way through Protestants, long before she became a drink.
Michelangelo was the chief architect of St Peter’s Basilicia in Rome.
And, Ivan the Terrible was Tsar of All the Russias, off busy building an empire.
Back on the banks of a small tributary, now known as Western Creek in Calvert, a tree was beginning to grow.
The scientific name of the tree is Eucalyptus tereticornis; also known commonly as a Forest Red Gum due to the red inner timber, or a Blue Gum due to the colour of the outside of the bark at different times of the year when the trunk produces a bluey-hue colour.
The tree is affectionately known by the Ipswich City Council arbor team as Caesar.
Arboriculture co-ordinator Wendy Collier explains the tree’s significance.
“The tree is the oldest that we are aware of in the entire Ipswich area for any species of tree. It is currently also in second place with the Australian National Register of Big Trees for its age in the Eucalyptus tereticornis category,” she said.
“We felt our ‘big fella’ at Calvert warranted the name Caesar due to being bold, resilient and defiant to the destructive forces of both man and nature.”
“It’s a bit deceptive from the road level, but when you get down the bank to the base of the tree at ground level, that’s when you can really see how big it is.
“I’m not a tree hugger but you have to respect the age. This tree as been here for 20 generations.”
“Now I am looking for a 500-year-old tree, I know there is one out there somewhere,” he said.
Cr David Pahlke organised to have the tree age appraised using a Resistograph machine. He then sent the results off to the National Trust of Australia register.
The National Trust works to protect Australia’s indigenous, natural and historic heritage and has created a national register of significant trees.
Part of the statement of significance reads:
“The tree is of horticultural value because of its remarkable age and size. It is particularly resistant to exposure as it has weathered many storms over the centuries. It is remnant native vegetation. The tree is outstanding for its size and age and is an outstanding example of its species, being only the second largest of its type in the area. An average mature Forest Red Gum has a circumference of around 3 metres, whereas the circumference of this tree is 7.4 metres. It makes a significant contribution to landscape and provides a visual and environmental amenity.”
This district was quite heavily logged many years ago, and due to the transport mode being bullock teams for hauling lumber, it would not have been possible for a ‘team’ to undertake the hauling of the bole up the embankment; so there was no point in falling the tree, hence it was left.
Red Gums are known to tolerate both flood and drought, so chances are it will continue to survive and thrive for many years to come.