His­tor­i­cal trees

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

RED poin­cianas, man­goes, African tulips and cas­sias were planted on the Cap­tain Cook High­way near El­lis Beach in 1934 to beau­tify the area and en­cour­age tourists to take the scenic route to Moss­man.

Re­search is un­der­way by lead­ing James Cook Univer­sity his­tor­i­cal ge­og­ra­pher Dr Peter Griggs into how Euro­peans have changed the land­scape of Queens­land and while in­ves­ti­gat­ing he dis­cov­ered there was a lot of non-na­tive tree plant­ing.

Euro­pean set­tlers re­moved na­tive veg­e­ta­tion and planted non-na­tive species ei­ther for shade, beau­ti­fi­ca­tion or as me­mo­ri­als to de­ceased sol­diers around streets and pub­lic gar­dens.

“Queens­land Main Roads Com­mis­sioner Sir John Kemp was in­ter­ested in at­tract­ing tourists com­ing into Queens­land and try­ing to give them a re­ally pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence on tourist drives and de­cided to beau­tify high­ways in Queens­land,” Dr Griggs said.

“The three high­ways that were picked were Coolan­gatta to Bris­bane, Bris­bane to Toowoomba and Cairns to Moss­man.

“I’ve driven along the high­way try­ing to find ev­i­dence of this and cer­tainly the man­goes are still there on parts and if you drive fur­ther up on the high­way at the right time of the year you oc­ca­sion­ally see a splash of red de­scen­dants of those poin­cianas planted along­side the road.”

Re­search into street plant­ing is only a chap­ter in Dr Grigg’s broader study into clear­ing of forests by Euro­pean set­tlers and chang­ing the veg­e­ta­tion with tree plant­ing.

“The land­scape you see when you look out of the win­dow has been cre­ated and isn’t nat­u­ral, a lot of land­scapes around Queens­land are ar­ti­fi­cial and a lot of trop­i­cal trees were im­ported and not na­tive,” he said.

“Peo­ple think jacaran­das are beau­ti­ful but they have ac­tu­ally been planted by Euro­peans and are not na­tive at all, they were planted ob­vi­ously for their colour but also to pro­vide shade and make nice at­trac­tive sur­round­ings.

“When you go through Moss­man, there’s that re­ally nice av­enue of trees near the Angli­can Church - there is ev­i­dence of tree plant­ing ev­ery­where and that’s what Kemp was try­ing to do in Queens­land on a much larger scale.”

Dr Griggs will give an in­sight into his re­search tonight at a free pub­lic lec­ture in Crowther The­atre at James Cook Univer­sity in Smith­field, re­fresh­ments are at 5.30pm and the lec­ture starts at 6pm.

BEAU­TI­FUL: A 1968 colour pic­ture of the poin­cianas planted at El­lis Beach

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