Trees do not get enough credit. Not only do these woody plants provide shade, but they also filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, promote biodiversity by creating homes for animals, reduce heat in urban areas and reduce erosion. Such overachievers, right?
The National Trust is giving trees the recognition they deserve by hosting the Victorian Tree of the Year competition. The annual initiative seeks to showcase the state’s natural heritage, raise awareness of conservation and educate people on the benefits of trees. It’s a little bit like Miss Australia for trees, except the entrants are less wooden.
The competition is currently halfway through voting, with nine trees shortlisted for the top prize. For the first time, all the shortlisted trees are located in regional Victoria, including several from bushfire-affected areas.
Without any further ado, let us introduce you to the 2020 Victorian Tree of the Year finalists.
Chestnut Leaved Oak
From: Mossvale Park, Leongatha.
Height: 34 metres.
Talent: Regarded as an outstanding example of its species, this Chestnut Leaved Oak has outstanding size and contributes to a historic park.
Ideal date: A picnic followed by stargazing.
Canary Island Pine
From: Ballarat Synagogue, Ballarat.
Height: 26 metres.
Talent: Has contributed to landscape and historic associations.
Ideal date: A walk along the beach followed by fish and chips.
From: Mallacoota Sportsground and Camping Park, Mallacoota.
Height: 27 metres.
Talent: These gums are the only known hybrid offspring of the eucalyptus globulus and eucalyptus cypellocarpa species.
Ideal date: OTT cocktails at some Instagram-centric bar.
From: Mottle Range Reserve, Buchan South.
Talent: Being resilient. This grove of 400 spotted gums is the only natural occurrence of the species across Victoria and was severely affected by the bushfires. But it’s already starting to show signs of regeneration. Also Groot impressions.
Ideal date: Volunteering at an animal shelter then grabbing burgers.
From: Former Aradale Psychiatric Hospital, Heath Street, Ararat.
Height: Nine metres.
Talent: Being an important feature of the landscape, having historic significance and being an outstanding example of the species.
Ideal date: A three-course meal at a fine dining restaurant.
From: Cnr South Gippsland Highway and Smith Street, Leongatha.
Height: 23 metres.
Talent: Smelling like a candle and being an impressive landmark tree with a canopy spread of 24 metres.
Ideal date: April 25th. It's not too hot, not too cold and all you need is a light jacket.
From: Hamilton Botanic Gardens, Hamilton.
Height: 35 metres.
Talent: Being really tall. This tree is planted at the highest point in the historic Hamilton Botanic Gardens and is a fixture in the area’s skyline.
Ideal date: Staying at home and watching true crime docos.
From: Bright Cemetery, Bright.
Height: 18 metres.
Talent: Being rare – this tree is native to the Himalayas and has a significant social and historical context.
Ideal date: Seeing a theatre show, ideally a musical.
Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour
From: Bacchus Marsh.
Talent: Being historically significant. The avenue was established in 1918 as a living memorial to honour those who fought in WWI.
Ideal date: Exploring a museum then getting coffee.
To find out more about each shortlisted tree, visit the National Trust website. To cast your vote for your favourite, visit the trust's Facebook page and 'like' the photo of the tree you want to win. You have until Sunday, May 10 to vote.