HISTORIC trees offering an insight into Aboriginal history in the region have been hacked.
An investigation is underway into the illegal removal of wood from mature red gums on the shores of Lake Burrumbeet. The act of cutting of taking away the trees on the crown land reserve carries a maximum penalty of $7383, or one year imprisonment, or both.
Offenders can also be dealt $607 on-the-spot fines.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Grampians regional manager of forests and fire operations Peter Kambouris confirmed four mature red gums had been felled and up to 12 more trees impacted.
Two felled trees are confirmed as Aboriginal scarred trees, recorded on the Victorian Aboriginal heritage register.
Warthaurang elder Uncle Bryon Powell, who has been advising DWELP, with the investigation said the trees were older than settlement. Each one lost wiped out a key piece of history.
“They were between 260 to 300 years old which should make that in itself worth preserving, but because our old people had taken bark from them, these trees were a tangible link to our history,” Mr Powell said.
“When I visit ruins of early settlers’ cottages, you can really sense their story. These are trees we know our old people touched. Each man that went up there had a wife and children with him – this tells us about how they lived.”
Mr Powell said the bark was often taken to make canoes or coolamon (bowl or basket) that possibly could have been used on water at Lake Burrumbeet. This would leave a distinctive scar on the tree.
The Wathaurang community has already lost a significant number of scarred trees to firewood or mining in the past.
This is why Mr Powell said those trees left were really special.
DWELP estimates trees were damaged by the lake between May 30 to June 1. A commercial quantity of timber was taken.
Anyone with information about the illegal felling and taking of timber is asked to contact DELWP on 136 186.
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