Tree of Knowledge
It's not often you see a memorial to a tree, but Barcaldine's Tree of Knowledge was no ordinary tree. It became part of the history of the town from the beginning of settlement.
'Science preserving History'
Tree of Knowledge
The Tree of Knowledge was a eucalyptus papuna (Ghost Gum) which grew outside the Railway Station on Oak Street Barcaldine, until May 2006 when it was poisoned by an unknown culprit; from which it sadly did not recover. The Tree of Knowledge grew in this position for an estimated 200 years and earned its place in history, as the headquarters of the Great Shearers Strike of 1891 and the reputed birth place of the labour movement in Australia.
Fortuitously, prior to its demise, cuttings were taken from the tree and propagated. The results produced a sapling fondly named the “Young-Un”, planted in 2005 at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre; where it continues to thrive today.
During The Great Shearer's Strike of 1891, strike meetings in Barcaldine were often held in the shade of a ghost gum in the town’s main street - which came to be known as the Tree of Knowledge.
Enhance..... your journey of reflection and discover the Australian Workers Heritage Centre - where the Australian worker and their proud contribution is celebrated.
Here….. exhibits will inform and highlight the linkages and history behind the Tree of Knowledge story.
Visit…. The Shearers’ Hall, an exhibition which informs of the history of the Great Shearers’ Strike of 1891 and where Australia’s most famous tree lives on through The “Young–Un”, the only direct offspring of the heritage listed Tree of Knowledge; ensuring this symbolic icon of our national working history, is secure for future generations of Australians.
The Tree of Knowledge is listed on the State Heritage Register as well as being one of only 74 Nationally Listed Icons, right along with the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Tree of Knowledge commemorates a milestone in the history of Australian democracy and an architecturally designed memorial was erected on the site and opened on May 2nd, 2009.
The memorial has been designed to represent the tree in an abstract form (incorporating a preserved part of the trunk of the former tree as the trunk). The Memorial is essentially a 'cube' compromised of recycled timber batons suspended from a glass covered roof structure. The (approximately 3,500) batons recreate the canopy of the original tree as it stood in its prime during the 1891 Shearers' Strike. The best view of the tree and the Memorial is at night when it is beautifully lit by special lighting.
The tree now serves as an important place to meet and reflect, and in celebrating its importance in Australian history, remembers those who fought for better working conditions.
The formation of the Australian Labor Party also has its roots under the great tree as a result of events following the 1891 strike.
The Tree of Knowledge, so named because of all that had passed beneath its branches, still stands as one of Australia’s most significant monuments to its proud workers.
The 'Young-Un' an enduring legacy - Standing strong and proud
The Tree of Knowledge - Australia's most famous tree lives on
'Science preserving History'
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, their scientists and staff, for their ingenuity and commitment that ensures the DNA of the original Ghost Gum lives on.
This offspring - the only direct descendant of the Tree of Knowledge was planted at the Workers Heritage Centre in May 2005 guaranteeing genetic succession.
The Tree of Knowledge through its offspring fondly named the 'Young-Un' is currently thriving at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre, safeguarding this symbolic icon of our National Working History for future generations of Australians.
An epic moment in history was created and a line was drawn in the sand when during the Great Shearers' Strike of 1891, shearers and their supporters carrying the rebel Eureka flag unified under the Tree of Knowledge.
The 'Young-Un' represents new life and will be called upon to bear silent witness to the struggles and challenges we collectively face now and in the future.
The Australian Workers Heritage Centre dedicates this progeny to Australian workers, their families and supporters who have made an invaluable contribution to our Nation and its resources. They created unique social, political and industrial movements which were to reform, reshape and continue to influence our National character and all it stands for.
'A Living Witness to History' - with a deep respect for the story it enshrines - a story planted firmly in the ground.