A heritage-listed Darwin tree that survived at least two devastating cyclones, the arrival of European settlers and a Japanese bombing has died, leaving just five listed trees in the Northern Territory city.
The milkwood tree in downtown Darwin was given protection in 2006 as a rare example of the vegetation that covered the Darwin peninsula before European arrival in 1869.
That listing is now being withdrawn so the tree, which the NT government has checked and double-checked died of natural causes, can be cut down.
The director of the NT government heritage branch, Michael Wells, said: “In the middle of last year we had reports the tree seemed to be suffering.
“We got an arborist report and he said it had reached the end of its natural life. I wanted to be absolutely sure about that and I knew questions would arise … so I asked a second arborist to report to me about the tree in general.
“He said there was no evidence it had been poisoned.”
The tree was thought to most likely be the oldest and largest specimen of its type in the region, and was valued by the community “for its age and beauty,” according to the heritage listing.
As Darwin grew around it, the tree ended its life on a private but empty block of land in a quiet south-eastern corner of the city, surrounded by apartment blocks and a hotel.
Five other heritage listed trees remain, some in similarly incongruous settings. A 12m high boab, thought to have been planted in the late 1800s, stood protected while a concrete carpark for the post office was constructed around it.
It marks the site of Darwin’s first primary school, and during the second world war a “daisy cutter” bomb lay unexploded within its shade for several days before it was discovered.
A banyan tree in State Square is about 200 years old and “was the congregation point for the Larakia youths prior to ceremonies which took place under the nearby Tamarind tree,” its heritage listing said.
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