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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Tree is dead

To-day, official reports have come that the Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine, in central western Queensland, is dead. The Tree of Knowledge was included in The National Heritage List for the following reasons:

(a) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia's cultural history - for its association with the Shearers' Strike of 1891 and as the starting point of political and social processes, which led to the eventual formation of the Australian Labor Party.

(b) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons - for its association with the Trade Union Movement and Labour/May Day celebrations

Now a person or persons unknown has/have poisoned The Tree and it is dead.

The tree had struggled but was kept alive with a great deal of skill by specialist arborists and the determination of a number of local Barcaldine people led by long-time/life-time Australian Labor Party stalwart, Pat Ogden - the Licensed Victualler of the Globe Hotel.

Miss Eagle wishes to pay tribute to Pat Ogden and his stalwart committee members who for so long not only kept The Tree alive but also kept alive Barcaldine's place in Australian history. Miss Eagle had the privilege of flying the Labor flag at two elections back in the '80s in the Federal seat of Kennedy, of which Barcaldine is a significant party. She knows first hand of the work that has been done by Pat Ogden, the committee, and the community of Barcaldine.

She was there for the marvellous first re-enactment of the Shearers' Strike in the early '80s produced and directed by the late Gilbert Spottiswood. Then afterwards she recalls adjourning to the Globe Hotel. The front bar was overflowing and in the tiny dining room at the back a rowdy talent quest was conducted on a dining room chair with the audience awarding points in the manner of Shearers 3-Squatters 0.

Such a night had never been seen in Barcy and was only exceeded by the celebrations on the Labor Day weekend of 1991 to mark the birth of the Australian Labor Party underneath the Tree of Knowledge during the Shearers' Strike. Those celebrations were so mighty that the Globe was drunk dry.