Diamond Creek has a number of significant trees; some officially recorded for their historic value and others not. We have details for some not recognised and hope this article provides inspiration for anyone who may know of trees not mentioned and who can provide us with a local tree’s detailed links to our pioneers, local families and pre- or post European settlement history.
The Wilson Tree – Nillumbik Farm
50 Challenger Street
An expansive and aged Sugar Gum sits at the bottom of Challenger Street opposite Diamond Creek’s Baseball Club and Men’s Shed. It marks the entrance to Nillumbik Farm.
The tree is historically significant to the Wilson family who settled in the area in the mid-1840’s and took over the property first selected by Henry Arthur. It was named Nillumbik Farm.
This Sugar Gum (eucalyptus cladocalyx) is a rare and early example that dates from 1856-1870 at a time when this species was being used for specimen plantings. Its large size may indicate that it settled in well to the local environment. The adjacent area along the creek flats was known as the ‘lagoon’ so its roots would have had access to water year round.
The tree, farmhouse and its surrounds are listed with Heritage Victoria – vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/64013
There is another large eucalypt, also listed with Heritage Victoria, to the north of the original farmhouse. This photo shows the upper part of what is now the reserve before the area was developed. Ryans Road is to the far right. vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/64020
Oak Tree at Trenowin
83 Lambert Street
‘Trenowin’ is the home built in 1891 by John and Honor Lawrey. They purchased the land in 1867 then developed it into a farm and orchards which became some of the most important in the Diamond Creek district. John and Honor came from Cornwall’s west and were early pioneers of the district.
The homestead site is of regional significance for its association with the development of the local fruit-growing industry within Nillumbik Shire – John Lawrey developed his own plum variety which he called the Trenowin plum. It is significant for its long association with the Lawrey family. Their descendants live in and around Diamond Creek today.
The best way to see the house and gardens is from the Windy Mile as you head towards the Sawpit Gully roundabout – look left across Sawpit Creek. A standout planting is the Oak Tree that can be seen behind the house on the high side of the hill. It dates from at least the time of the homestead.
Ryan Family Tree
Main Hurstbridge Road
Over the years when chatting with Jock Ryan he would tell us the story of the tree his family owned. He would wonder, tongue in cheek, about how that ‘ownership’ would stand today.
Jock was a founding member of our Society, holding a number of roles until he retired from the committee about ten years ago. He gathered and organised much of our collections of files, photos and book and worked with other to increase our image collection to the large volume we have today.
The story starts with Jock’s father John Ryan who ran his butcher shop in the building on the corner of Main Street and Hyde Street, opposite Collins Street.
We didn’t specifically find out when the transaction took place, but John Ryan was looking for a good tree to use for butchers blocks. He paid the local landowner for the tree but in the end didn’t get around to taking it down and cutting it up.
Having been left untouched, the large eucalypt stands proudly at the side of the road between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen, on the railway side and opposite Kamarooka Drive.
It seems to have had an interesting life with its gnarly look and spreading branches showing some wear and tear but it carries its age well.
We still like the story and to us Ryan’s tree is a good identifier.
Diamond Creek Cricket Reserve and Tree Rows
Marngrook Oval, Main Hurstbridge Road
The trees that border the edge of Marngrook Oval, along Main Hurstbridge Road and around the oval were planted in 1899-1900 when the local community worked and fundraised to create our first recreation ground. Along the road are Elms, an Oak and a Peppercorn. Around the oval are a Canary Island Pine, Eucalypts and Bunya Pines; the three Bunyas close to the creek have grown to quite a height.
In 1899 the Horticultural Hall, that was moved from its original site on the hill above Sawpit Gully to the reserve, continued to be used for the annual Horticultural Show. The reserve also included the area across the creek bordered by Diamond Street. Public use for sports and recreation continues across the reserve area today.
The reserve is historically significant because it has been used by the local community for over 100 years and for its association with the development of local horticulture. It is aesthetically significant for the range and maturity of its tree specimens and socially and historically significant as the home of football stars Syd and Gordon Coventry.
When the lights were installed at the Elizabeth Street intersection, two of the original Elms had to be removed. We were fortunate to have one of the trunks delivered to Ellis Cottage. It now stands proud and in one piece carved into the image of a miner by now world renowned chainsaw artist Rob Bast.
The Heritage Victoria listing is – vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/64014
We are sure there are other trees across our district that deserve to have their story told and recorded for the future. So, if you have anything to share that has provenance and a clear timeline, maybe a link or story from your family’s local history, please let us know. It will help us to add to known local indigenous history and allow us to preserve those links for future generations.