2 June 2020

Jugiong's poplars make way for lipstick maples

| Edwina Mason
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Aerial view of Jugiong poplar trees.

Once a truck stop on the Hume Highway, Jugiong is now a popular tourist destination best known for its striking poplars, which are being removed. Photo: Supplied.

Future visitors to Jugiong, 61km west of Yass, will no longer receive a tall, chartreuse standing ovation but instead be lured into the town by the bright red fingers of leaves of autumnally visual lipstick maple trees.

The town is currently trying to cover its winter nakedness, with work beginning last month to denude its main street, Riverside Drive, of the characteristic avenue of poplars which were deemed dangerous by Hilltops Council.

It’s a familiar refrain and a warning for any country town with majestic sentinel guarding entranceways – as reverberated lately in Braidwood where it also faces the loss of poplar trees.

“The existing poplars have been assessed to be at the end of their life and are at risk of falling in storms and causing safety issues,” says Hilltops Council. “These trees are also not compatible with being close to the existing power lines.”

Locals place the age of the Jugiong poplars at around 70.

For many people who have passed through the area, they are as synonymous with the former Hume Highway truck-stop town as the famed The Sir George hotel and, in pre-bypass days, as a hiding spot for police waiting to catch speeding motorists.

A road lined with lipstick maple trees.

The dark red leaves of lipstick maple trees will now dominate the streetscape of Jugiong. Photo: Supplied.

Come summertime, curious parking techniques take advantage of their vast shade.

For the population of 222 who reside in Jugiong, some of who either embrace or grapple with the town’s escalating popularity, the removal of the trees offers immense benefits.

A masterplan for the town was developed following a public meeting in March 2018 where local stakeholders voiced concerns about the problems with pedestrians and parking in the area as businesses flourished.

Consultation between Hilltops Council and the community resulted in the masterplan finally being adopted by council in March 2019.

It is in the very capable hands of one of the South West Slopes’ foremost landscape architectural firms, Somewhere Landscape Architects – led by Alex Dalglish of Young – who designed the Gift of Life Garden at the National Arboretum Canberra.

According to Hilltops Council, the lipstick maple tree has been selected to enhance existing lipstick maples already planted in Jugiong, and it is consistent with the planting guide in the Jugiong Masterplan.

Council will remove the remaining poplars between now and September 2020.

Each tree will be assessed by a tree removal crew, but according to council it is likely the teams will use standard arborist techniques, including the use of chainsaws and may include elevated work platforms or climbing to safely remove the trees.

Where the trees are close to infrastructure – such as power lines or roads – the removal technique will take this into account to ensure they are removed safely.

In line with the removal of the poplars comes the next phase of Jugiong’s street beautification works. This will include upgrading drainage near the intersection of Jugiong Road and Riverside Drive; upgrading of speed traffic signs and garden entrance treatments at the entrances to Jugiong Village; formalising car parking with line marking in the village; and sealing the shoulders on Riverside Drive.

Roadworks around the drainage improvements near the intersection of Jugiong Road and Riverside Drive will be completed by the middle of June.

In a move to honour the heritage of the village, a new street will be named Parry Street. Sargeant Edmund Parry was a colonial policeman murdered by Ben Hall’s gang of bushrangers in 1864. The street naming is a nod to the town’s heroes of the past and celebrates the rich history of the village.

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