Oaks safeguard: King George V trees now on State Heritage Register

A COMMUNITY-LED campaign to preserve King George V Ave’s English oaks has come up trumps, with the memorial avenue awarded the state’s highest level of protection yesterday.

Heritage Minister Robyn Parker joined Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Tamworth Regional councillors to make the announcement under the hallowed trees, which were planted by the Rotary Club of Tamworth as a tribute to King George V following his death in 1936.

It was the iconic boulevard’s unique status as the only avenue of oaks in NSW that saw it accepted onto the State Heritage Register, Ms Parker said.

“Planted almost 80 years ago, the King George V memorial avenue of English oaks is one of the best remaining from an era when avenues of trees were used to mark historic events and people,” she said.

“It’s significant in so many ways ... I’m delighted to ensure its protection for generations to come by placing it on the State Heritage Register.”

The decision is the culmination of a fiercely fought four-year battle to have the eye-catching trees recognised and preserved after a proposed 500-house estate threatened their survival.

Although it adds another layer of protection to the historic trees, it does not rule out the avenue’s use as a residential road in the future, according to a council source.

Residents David and Christine McKinnon, who along with dozens of others helped forge a 14,000-signature petition to save the trees, said they can now sleep a little easier knowing the oaks were out of immediate danger.

“This hopefully creates a line between is it going or isn’t it,” Mr McKinnon said.

“It’s now here, it’s staying, so from here on in we are going to enhance it, replant (and) have treatment done on some of the trees.

“As far as the team is concerned we use this as a huge step to restoring this avenue.”

Ms Parker said while the significance of the site would be taken into account “whatever happens into the future”, she cautioned it “does not mean that it’s preserved always exactly the same”.

The avenue’s inclusion on the register ensures its future management is supported by the state’s leading heritage organisation, the Heritage Council of NSW.

In considering the application, the heritage board found the avenue is of potential aesthetic significance because of its cathedral or tunnel-like effect that has been created by the branches interlocking over the road.

It is also considered a rare example of a substantially intact avenue of oaks still surviving in NSW and possibly Australia.

Council supported the avenue’s proposed listing on the register in July last year.

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