22 June 2021

Donation of trees to bushfire-impacted Quaama park is a symbol of hope

| Albert McKnight
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Hamish and Gaby Mitchell

Hamish and Gaby Mitchell deliver a truckload of trees to the bushfire-affected Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Trees donated to Quaama will help rebuild the bushfire-impacted town park into a beautiful space for many years to come.

The 12 established trees, donated by Victoria-based nursery Speciality Trees, will revitalise the bushfire-damaged Quaama Memorial Park.

“I think it’s really important people know there are people outside their area that care – it’s not just governments that want to assist,” Specialty Trees co-owner Hamish Mitchell said.

“It’s really a heartfelt thing. We hope they enjoy the trees and they will be there for a long time – hopefully people will be able to sit in the shade in 20, 30 or 60 years.

“It’s a symbol of hope and rebuilding.”

Mr Mitchell has special memories of travelling from the Monaro to Quaama and Bermagui during family holidays and his parents-in-law now live near the latter.

“I first met my wife Gaby at Cooma Primary School and we both have fond memories of trips to the Bega Valley – especially the Bermagui area on many occasions,” he said.

READ ALSO: Public donations kindle new facility for threatened platypus

He said the scale of the destruction left behind by the 2019-2020 bushfires was amazing.

“All the way from Bairnsdale to Bermagui and probably further north, it was devastating,” he said.

“We’ve got the capacity to help, so we thought it’d be a good thing to do.

“Trees are our business so we stepped up with an offer of parkland trees to Bega Valley Shire Council and they were thrilled to accept them.”

He said the council had an idea of what type of trees it wanted to plant in the park so his business was able to assist with its plans.

Council’s project officer Glenn Merrick said the donation would be gratefully received by the Quaama community.

“Visitors to the park will soon enjoy the addition of tree species like Japanese elm, tupelo, golden ash, liquid amber, crepe myrtle, golden elm and jacaranda. It will be a lovely sight that will only improve with time,” he said.

“This is not the only act of generosity from Hamish and Gaby, who drove from Victoria last year with a truckload of trees for the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary after it was impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.”

READ ALSO: Art installation knits together a lasting bushfire memorial

Mr Mitchell said he knew the fires had impacted on locals physically and psychologically.

“It’s a tough thing to witness let alone be part of,” he said.

“But something like this [the donation] will hopefully make people feel a little bit better.”

Site preparation and tree removal started in June and the new trees will be planted in July.

Only dead or severely damaged trees will be removed with each being replaced with trees from Speciality Trees.

Existing trees at the park will also be given the best treatment with compost and mulch circles being applied.

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