February 11 - 17, 2024: Issue 613


Historic 100-Year-Old Mona Vale WWI 'Victory' Tree To Be Replaced

Photo supplied by David James OAM

For over 100 years the Mona Vale Victory Tree has stood sentry at the site of the original local Methodist Church on Pittwater Road.

Planted to commemorate the end of World War I and in honour of the many fallen soldiers, the tree has succumbed to Armillaria Root Rot disease. 

Armillaria root rot is a disease of trees and woody plants, although it also affects palms, succulents, ferns and other herbaceous plants. This disease is caused by fungi in the genus Armillaria, also known as “oak root fungus,” although the fungus has no specificity for oaks.

Overseas, the disease is reported to be caused by Armillaria mellea. But in Australia a related indigenous fungus Armillaria luteobubalina is the most common cause of Armillaria root rot.

The fungus can spread in several ways, but usually spread is from a woody food base such as an infected tree or stump, or a small piece of infected root.

Most spread is by root contact: the fungus grows from a diseased root into a healthy root via the point of contact of the roots. Rhizomorphs can grow from infected roots through the soil to roots of a nearby plant.

Occasionally, after an infected tree has died, honey-coloured clusters of toadstools grow from the base of the tree. These usually appear from May to July. The toadstools (the fruiting bodies of the fungus) have honey-coloured to deep brown caps covered with scales, whitish gills and yellow to brown stems with a pronounced ring or collar around the upper part of the stem

Airborne spores produced by the toadstools can be another method of spread, although these spores can only infect dead or injured wood.

Situated on private property, Council states it has worked with the property owner trying several treatments to save the tree. Over an eight-month period these treatments, recommended by Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens PlantClinic, were tested on the tree without success.

Council announced on Thursday February 8 it is now planning to plant another symbolic tree nearby as they are unable to plant in the same location due to soil contamination.

The century-old Holly Oak (Quercus ilex), an evergreen oak, was one of the remaining few of the original 200 trees planted across NSW under a Methodist Youth program, supplied with the assistance of Mr J H Maiden, Chief Botanist at Sydney Botanical Gardens.

The aim of the planting was for the relatives and friends of those who died to have a place to leave flowers and acknowledge their loved ones in the absence of a grave site.

Council’s Heritage Officer is assisting with guidance on preserving the tree’s heritage value.

The Mona Vale tree was planted in 1920 and became the first place Mona Vale ANZAC Day ceremonies were conducted by students and the community:

The Victory Tree.

To stand as a living expression of gratitude to God for victory in the great war, and to continually remind the youth of Methodism of the ideals for which our soldiers so nobly fought,' the Young People 's Department recently offered to present and forward to every Sunday School in the State a 'Victory Tree,' for planting in school or church grounds. The Department stipulated that applications should be made upon a prescribed form, which stated the conditions of gift, and a copy of which was forwarded to every Sunday School. 

Below is a list of the schools ' that have made application for a tree, and to many of these the trees have already been forwarded. Superintendents and teachers are requested to scan the list, and if the name of their school does not appear thereon, to take steps to have an application lodged at the Y.P. Department's Office at an early date. 

The trees are beautiful specimens of the kind most suit-able for the districts concerned, and the presentation of them is made possible by the kindness of Mr. Maiden, the Government Botanist: 

SYDNEY DISTRICT.— Rockdale, French's Forest, West Bexley, St. Ives, Bexley, Pymble, Turramurra, Wahroonga, Willoughby, Tempe Park, Bondi, Waverley, Malvern Hill, Chatswood (Central), Mona Vale...The Victory Tree. (1920, June 19). The Methodist (Sydney, NSW : 1892 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155274628


On or near Anzac Day the following centres will, according to agreement with the Young People's Department, conduct a ceremony, when thanksgiving shall be offered to Almighty God:

-Parkesbourne, Bega, New Lambton, Knockrow, Wauchope, Caniaba, South Bathurst, Kembla Heights, Gerringong, Cowlong, Brooklana, Nelson's Bay, Palmer's Island, Murwil-lumbah, Casino, Blackman's Point, Tenterfield, Fernmount, Comboyne, Coraki, Tenter-Grafton, Mine Camp (Catherine Hill Bay), Koppin Yarratt, Suspension Bridge, Summer Hill, Waverley, Montague Street (Balmain), Chatswood South, Paddington, Brooklet; Forbes, Ryde, Eastwood, Kurri Kurri, Grenfell, Rockdale, West Bexley, St. Ives, Pymble, Turramurra, Wahroonga, Willoughby, Tempe Park, Bondi, Ariah Park, Culcairn, Hay, Malebo, Macksville, Kyogle, Lismore, Wyrallah, Rous Mill, Lawrence, South Woodburn, Werris Creek, Stannifer, Glen Innes, Gunnedah, Cooma, Boorowa, Robertson, Biddon, Cardiff, Gouldsville, Wakefield, East Maitland, Bolwarra, Spring Hill, Hornsby, Waitara, Punchbowl, Lindfield, Arncliffe, Brookvale, Balgowlah, Kensington, Peakhurst, Mullum-bimby, French's Forest, Luddenham, Rye, Park, Hannam Vale, Wattle Park, Kangaloon, Merrilla, Lawson, Cullinga, Narrandera, Merriwa, Wallendbeen, William Street (Bathurst), Armidale, Gilgandra, Cootamundra, Stewart Street (Bathurst), North Goulburn, Orange, Gapertee, Temora, Ulabo, Harden, Corowa, Dalton, Blayney, Parkes, Bowral, Brownlow Hill, Quirindi, Rylstone,. Hexham, Liverpool, Holroyd, Wamberal, Kangaroo Valley, Wyee, Dora Creek, Bulli, Thirroul, Coledale, Peak Hill, Adamstown, Aberdare, Boggabri, Toronto, Laman Street (Newcastle), Baulkham Hills North, Lakemba, Rozelle, Rosebery, Balmain East, Hurstville, Lewisham, Earlwood, Malvern Hill, Epping, Chatswood Central, Mona Vale, Hamilton, Junction (Merewether), Bexley, Flemington, Parramatta (Macquarie Street), Auburn, Granville, Upper Picton, Orchard Hills, Cawdor, Badgery's Creek, Mt. Kembla, Warrena, Weston, Abermain, Pelaw Main, Heddon Greta, Toongabbie, Leura, Yass, Woodstock, Gunning (three centres), West Wyalong, Tallong, Uralla, Cunningar, Cowra Road, Millthorpe, Gundagai, Dubbo, Newcastle C.M.M., Stockton, Cook's Hill, Molong, Carrington, Dundas, Wallsend (Metcalfe Street), Dangar Street (Newcastle), Castle Hill, Penrith, Morpeth, Mayfield, South Hurstville, Nowra, West Ryde, Ilford, Oberon, Goldsmith Street (Goulburn), Katoomba, Drummoyne, Sutherland, Lambton, Dennis Island, Branxton, Corinda. VICTORY TREE CELEBRATIONS. (1921, April 23). The Methodist (Sydney, NSW : 1892 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155269705 

More in: Mona Vale War Memorials: A School Honour Board, A Victory Tree, A Cenotaph - Pittwater Online News, Issue 535

Above: Methodist Church, Mona Vale, circa 1900 to 1927 - Sydney & Ashfield : Broadhurst Post Card Publishers, Album ID : 823323, Image No.: a106012, courtesy the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.

WWI Victory Tree in Mona Vale a few years ago. Photo by and courtesy Dr. Suzanne Daly