Bondi View

Wishing tree woes

Under threat: the wishing tree on Avoca Street. Photo: Kira Spucys-Tahar

By Sophia Morris

Residents of Avoca Street in Bondi could lose their beloved ‘wishing tree’ after Waverley Council found the tree to be in “poor health”.

The tight-knit community of neighbours on the street, where all the trees are heritage listed, is passionate about the wishing tree. The fig acquired its name thanks to local resident Donna Lorenz. Inspired by a visit to the Burning Man festival in the US state of Nevada, she decorated the tree with string to which she attached laminated cards on which people could write their hopes and desires. Her initiative proved an instant success, with both children and adults having filled the cards with their wishes.

“The tree is definitely part of the community. This year all the wishes are for keeping the wishing tree,” said resident Adrienne Wright.

Despite this support, Waverley Council has declared that the tree is dying and will need to be removed.

“A council arborist found the tree had been in poor health for an extensive period of time,” a Waverley Council spokesperson said.

“Council will only remove the tree if it’s deemed the tree will not survive. Council is committed to the safety of its residents, which is why it proposed to remove the tree.”

Since receiving news of the decision, Ms Lorenz, with the help of other Avoca Street residents, has been fighting to save the wishing tree.

“I was mortified. I love that tree,” Ms Lorenz said. “As the wishing tree, it had grown to mean so much to the street, especially the kids. I mean, who would want to chop down a wishing tree?”

Ms Lorenz believes that removing the tree should be a last resort. She has consulted two independent arborists, both of whom believe the tree could be saved.

“They said that the tree had regrowth, that it could use pruning and feeding and should be given a chance for rehabilitation,” she said.

According to Ms Lorenz, the reports from the two arborists she consulted will not be considered by council because the arborists are qualified as level one, compared to the council’s more qualified level five arborist. She has therefore decided to hire a level five arborist to inspect the tree, and has been given until February 14 to report back to council with her findings.

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