Saturday, July 20, 2019


After more than 75 years, the fire lookout Diamond Tree will be closed for climbing. Anyone would think Pauline Hanson would be outraged and use the closure of the tree as a political platform to stir a right wing culture war, but she's been strangely silent on this one. The tree is inspected regularly by arborists and they have recently detected an internal fungus, using infra red technology, a dendric X ray if you like.

The Diamond tree is over 50 metres tall and estimated to be 250 years old. She's a karri and was first climbed by forester Jack Watson. He climbed forty karris without pegs to find the tallest, with the best view.
I'm happier to climb a mountain than a tree. The only time I attempted the Diamond tree, the soles of my feet were going crazy ten metres up and I had to retreat. I think of those men and women sometimes, sitting in the crown of the biggest karri in the country, looking for smoke. Doreen Owens worked on the tree as a fire spotter in the 1950s. She said it was simply the best job but the place got pretty scary during high winds and the little hut would sway with the tree.

Diamond Tree lookout in 1997

A woman who works at my local supermarket used to visit a friend who worked on an iron frame fire tower. She'd look down to see tourists climbing up. 'Quick Lyn!' She'd say, 'Grab that map table.' Together they'd push and pull at the map table until the whole tower swayed alarmingly. She called it her terrorist deterrent.

Diamond Tree early days by Frank Hurley


  1. You mean to say that climbing the tree was part of the job every morning? I had heard that Australians are tough, but this is beyond any job description in the U.K.

  2. Poor tree. Hope it survives and enjoys its retirement.

    1. I agree. The tree has had spikes driven into it for a fifth of its life. From what we've learnt about trees over the last few decades, it's a peculiar kind of violence really, to mete out to another being. I hope she enjoys her retirement too.