We are Australian academics writing to condemn the Victorian government’s destruction of the 350-year-old sacred Djab Wurrung Directions tree. We urge the government to immediately stop all work and protect. The Djab Wurrung trees from being destroy. Geographers, lawyers and sociologists are all part of this group. We are unite in our anger and sorrow at the colonial violence that the Victorian. Government is using against the Djab Wurrung and all First Nations peoples in Australia.
All trees have value, but especially in times of climate crisis, Djab Wurrung trees offer more than just just trees. They are living entities that hold significant historical, cultural, and spiritual meaning. They are an integral part of a songline and have been physically shape over. Hundreds of years by First Nations culture and ceremonial practices.
For example, take the Directions Tree. It was fell with a chainsaw last Wednesday and tow away on the back of an unmarked dump truck. The 350-year-old Yellowbox tree, which is massive and stunningly beautiful with its distinctive swirling bark, was plant with placenta from the birth of a Djab Wurrung infant. Its branches were then actively shape and direct over the years.
Forever Changing Australian
It would have been hard to look at the tree and be a true witness to it without forever changing how one views trees and our interconnectedness to nature.
The Birthing Tree, also known by the Grandmother Tree, is 800 years old and in imminent danger of being destroy. There is a hollow at the base of her tree where more than 50 generations of Djab Wurrung children have been born. The fluids of their births merge with the root system, and the tree literally becomes part of them.
Nearby, the Grandfather Tree is leaning towards them. It is believe that it was plant around the same time as the Grandfather Tree and connect via underground root system. There are many other important trees and artifacts around them, many of which have yet to document.
Victorian Australian Government
It was completely unnecessary for the Victorian government to remove this Djab Wurrung land in order to allow for a certain version of highway routing that will reduce travel time by two minutes. This is the continuing violence of the colonial state, and its disregard for First Nations culture. This renders any talk of a Treaty With First Nations Victorians, completely implausible.
As academics, we condemn the destruction of sacred trees and artifacts and the removal of the Directions tree. We are concerned about the timing of the destruction. It was done under COVID rules that prevent defenders from travelling to the site. Also, it was done under media attention and the public’s focus on Melbourne’s long-awaited release from lockdown.
We condemn the Victorian government’s apparent attempts to create doubt about which tree was destroyed and its significance, and to imply agreements with one group of government-recognised stakeholders amounted to respectful consultation. Also condemn the use by police and security to forcefully expel the peaceful Djab Wurrung Ambassador, which was established in order to protect the site by elders. We ask the Victorian government not to destroy this important site.
Open Letter Signatories
- Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Indigenous Studies, RMIT University
- Irene Watson Law, University of SA
- Professor Bronwyn Fredericks Education and Health, University of Queensland
- Dr Vicki L Couzens, Media, RMIT University
- Dr Gary Foley History, Victoria University
- Tiriki Onus Fine Arts and Music University of Melbourne
- Dr Lou Bennett AM, University of Melbourne, Social and Political Science
- Associate Professor Chelsea Bond, University of Queensland, Social Sciences and Health
- Alison Whittaker Law, University of Technology Sydney
- Amanda Porter, University of Queensland Law