The story of Jack and his tree

Looking to the future: Jack and Valerie Brown with the blue gum tree they have nurtured from a seed. 
PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Looking to the future: Jack and Valerie Brown with the blue gum tree they have nurtured from a seed. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

NO ONE has been more devastated by the demolition of a Wendouree tree than Jack Brown. 

Mr Brown grew up in a Howitt Street home with an enormous tree about 50 metres away. 

Although its destruction has begun, Mr Brown has ensured the tree will live on, having nurtured one of its seedlings, which has been growing at his home for almost 10 years. 

“It (the tree) was always at the back of our house. It was always big,” Mr Brown said. “There were lots of trees around it back then that we used to climb a lot. But you could never climb that tree.” 

The tree, behind the Don Chichios pizza shop on Howitt Street, had its top chopped off almost a year ago and has been further reduced since. There is only a portion of the estimated 140-year-old blue gum remaining. 

Mr Brown is from a prominent Wendouree family – his father, Charles Edward Brown, was a councillor for many years and his mother, Linda Brown, has a kindergarten named after her. 

Mr Brown moved to his Snake Valley farm after he was married to Valerie in 1957. The house he grew up in was opposite the showgrounds, and the tree was the only thing left on the block that reminded him of his childhood. 

“I was planting a few trees, so I went by to see if I could find any nuts to get seeds from. I did go by every so often,’’ he said.

“There was a small branch that had fallen, which I found two nuts on, so I took them home.” 

He cracked open the nuts and was able to get one seed, which he has grown outside his home. 

He and Valerie have nurtured it and it is now a few metres tall. 

Mr Brown said he understood why the mother tree was being chopped down, but it was still disappointing. 

“It is part of our life. To think we were able to get something from our home in Howitt Street – it (the new tree) could be here a very long time.” 

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au