The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) will plant the first of 500 seedlings from the Gallipoli Oaks project in Melbourne Gardens on Thursday 13 November.
This event marks the beginning of the planting phase of the Gallipoli Oaks Project, a key part of the Anzac Centenary commemorations by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).
The seedling to be planted by the Governor-General, a Quercus coccifera (also known as the Kermes Oak), has an incredible provenance as the descendent of the original acorns sent home by Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke, a Victorian soldier who served at Gallipoli during World War One.
The original acorns were planted in 1916 at Captain Lempriere Winter-Cooke’s family home at ‘Murndal’ near Hamilton in western Victoria and at Geelong Grammar, Winter-Cooke’s alma mater. From these trees, two more were grown – one at the Shrine of Remembrance and a second at Geelong Grammar. It is from these four trees that the current seedlings have been propagated by horticultural experts volunteering their time and resources.
The Gallipoli Oaks Project aims to deliver a Gallipoli Oak tree to every primary school in Victoria between 2015 and 2018, creating a living memorial to the sacrifices of the Anzacs and their families during World War One.
Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens, says the Gardens is proud to add such a significant tree to its historic plant collection.
“This wonderful project not only teaches Victorian students about the Anzac legacy but allows them to pick up some basic horticultural skills as they learn how to care for their special Gallipoli Oak.”
“Quercus coccifera is a slow-growing tree from the Mediterranean region and an excellent choice for Victoria’s drying climate. Once established, it should only need supplementary watering during the summer,” he said.
To date, 500 Victorian primary schools have registered to receive a Gallipoli Oak and as Dr Graeme Blackman OAM, Chairman of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), explains, this is just the beginning.
“We’re delighted that the Governor–General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, has today kicked off the plantings in such fine style and we’d like to encourage all 2,000 primary schools in Victoria to follow suit,” he said.
“We’d like to see each and every one of them get involved in the project,” he said.
“The relevance of Anzac Day becomes intertwined with the Gallipoli Oaks when the students, while growing the trees, realise that the acorns were sent to Victoria by a soldier missing his family back home.”
All Victorian primary schools are also encouraged to make use of the teacher’s resource kit and eBook telling the story about the surviving original Gallipoli Oaks to bring the project’s message of remembrance into the classroom.
About the Gallipoli Oaks Project
The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is preparing Gallipoli Oak (Quercus coccifera) seedlings for primary schools to use in commemorative planting ceremonies in remembrance of the Anzac Centenary.
The Gallipoli Oak (also known as the Kermes Oak) is an evergreen oak that grows along the ridges and valleys of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Acorns were collected by several soldiers during World War One and sent or brought back to Australia.
Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke was one of the soldiers who collected acorns. In 1916, his family planted them at their home at ‘Murndal’ near Hamilton in western Victoria and at Winter-Cooke’s alma mater Geelong Grammar. From these trees, two more were grown: one at the Shrine of Remembrance, and a second at Geelong Grammar. From these four trees, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has collected acorns, which have been grown into hundreds of seedlings by horticultural experts volunteering their time and resources.
The National Trust is encouraging all 2,000 primary schools in Victoria to register to receive one of the seedlings and add it to their school grounds as a living tribute to the Anzac Centenary. So far, 500 primary schools in Victoria have already registered to receive their tree. Participating schools will receive a commemorative tree and plaque, a guide on how to care for their special tree, and a sturdy guard to protect against flying basketballs.
Schools can also bring the theme of remembrance into the classroom through the use of the Education Resource Kit, which was developed in partnership with the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria and the National Trust. The kit includes an e-book of ‘The Gallipoli Oaks Story’ and a teachers’ classroom resource with activities aligned to the Grade 3 National Curriculum.
Schools can register to receive a tree and download the Education Resource Kit at gallipolioaks.org