Sunday, April 19, 2009


This article appeared in siglo7 1996
"Why are the trees in the Midlands of Tasmania dying?" It seems that people in the 'middle zone' have been asking this simple question for some time, without a definite answer. What are these dead trees telling us? Who is listening; or for that matter, who is looking? Indeed, who in
their dash through the 'middle zone' were landliterate enough to read the signs of impending disaster?

Is some micro-organism killing these trees? Is it a virus, a bacterium, a fungus? Where did it come from? Or is the problem chemical rather than biological, or both? Who is responsible, and who pays?

Why is it that the affected area so closely mirrors colonial settlement? Is it the sheep and crops, or the fifteen possums to the hectare? Perhaps the trees are just 'old', or perhaps it is the 'ten years drought'. Maybe it is because of the western cultural imperative to civilize land and make it work for us? But who is Us? interest collectors? tax gatherers? dividend reapers? exporters? farmers? environmental activists? Have fools taken charge of paradise?

And why are the trees dying in the 'Middle'? Is this region on the margins, or at the centre? Why order the world in such a way as to mark out a zone that is neither north nor south, but peripheral to urban concern? Was it to create an exploitation zone? Was it to define territory(s)?

How can one dead tree talk about such things, and who will listen? Was it because the Red Tree's questions were read (albeit at 110 kph), that it was scrawled upon and ultimately burnt to the ground?

Ray Norman. Artist: The red tree November 1996

On 13th May 1996 a dead tree was painted red as part of a Landcare 'Landmark Project' The tree stood on Woodbury Farm beside the main north-south highway at Antill Ponds (a point half-way between Hobart and Launceston in the imagination of many Tasmanians) Sometime in August the Landcare Landmark was graffitied, and in the early hours of 18th September 1996 the Red Tree was set on fire and destroyed. In March 1997 the word TREE was installed on the place the original REDreadTREE stood.

It is said that about a million people drive past this site each year. Obviously some of those people are the same people doing so again and again. Things keep happening on this site, people watch and as this site develops some of those stories might be told if people tell them. As they say WATCH THIS SPACE.

Click on map to enlarge

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