Nothing Bland about our Oak tree

The Bland Oak in Oakdene Park, Carramar.
The Bland Oak in Oakdene Park, Carramar.

When Lisa Trauntner was growing up in Carramar, the Bland Oak in Oakdene Park was the setting for numerous games, activities and a chance to replicate Robin Hood. She wasn’t alone.

One of Sydney’s oldest trees has been a Fairfield icon since it was planted more than 150 years ago and an important part of the local heritage and a historic symbol of the city.

For Ms Trauntner, the more she learnt about the tree, the more she admired it and wanted to know more.

Starting with Dr William Bland who planted the oak tree around 1842 and stands as the last remains of the lavish Mark Lodge he owned.

Dr Bland arrived in Australia as a convict and was a politician, surgeon, farmer and inventor and is thought to have planted the tree because it represented his coat of arms which references the branches of wealth and diversity.

The Live Oak (quercus virginiana) was the largest in Australia until it split in a storm early on New Year Day 1941. 

“People thought it was from a lightning strike but through my research I have found it was just the sheer weight of the tree,” she said.

“The other thing I have discovered through reading numerous articles is that it could be a lot older what everyone thinks and might have been planted in 1832.”

The oak tree is the cover photo of the Facebook group she runs titled ‘Growing up in good old ‘Carramar Villawood Fairfield & Surrounds’.

It’s there a post caught the eye of Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone calling for the tree to be recognised on a national level after council recognised its local significance in the Local Environmental Plan in 2013.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, mayor Carbone proposed that council apply to the National Trust of Australia to have the Bland Oak listed on the National Register of Significant Trees. It was carried unanimously. 

“The trees unique shape tells a story of hardship, endurance and healing,” mayor Carbone said.

“It shows that difficult times and broken pasts can be overcome and that we can all continue to grow.  This lonely tree standing in the middle of our city is significant for its age, rarity and unique shape telling a story of our heritage.”

Ms Trauntner, who now lives at the Sunshine Coast, said the tree – which stands about 13 metres tall with a spread of more than 30 metres – typifies the Fairfield region.

“Our motto for the group is inspired by the tree: my roots begin here but my branches spread far and wide,” she said.

“The tree is so unique with a wonderful story behind it and it should be recognised as a national tree so fingers crossed it is accepted.”

Australian-Vietnamese actor, director and martial-arts specialist Maria Tran has a long association with the oak tree and said she was glad to see it proposed for the heritage list.

“I love this tree! I’ve shot a bunch of indie short films here and it’s such an amazing and energetically vibrant tree,” the Carramar resident tweeted