‘National treasure’: Significant Oak gains national recognition

Lukas Sullivan is the fifth generation from his family to play on the Bland Oak Tree in Carramar spanning more than 90 years. The two-year-old’s grandmother Lisa Trauntner was instrumental in bringing the tree to the focus of Fairfield Council. Picture: Chris Lane
Lukas Sullivan is the fifth generation from his family to play on the Bland Oak Tree in Carramar spanning more than 90 years. The two-year-old’s grandmother Lisa Trauntner was instrumental in bringing the tree to the focus of Fairfield Council. Picture: Chris Lane

Lisa Trauntner said it “means everything” that Carramar’s historic Bland Oak tree has been listed on the National Register of Significant Trees.

The Bland Oak (Quercus virginiana) in Oakdene Park is one of Sydney’s oldest trees and has been a Fairfield icon since it was planted more than 150 years ago.

The oak tree is the cover photo of Ms Trauntner’s Facebook group 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.

In April council to applied to the National Trust of Australia to have the iconic tree placed on the register.

Last week the application was approved by the Board of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) which automatically affords it national status. 

Rare gem: The Bland Oak in Oakdene Park, Carramar. Picture: Chris Lane

Rare gem: The Bland Oak in Oakdene Park, Carramar. Picture: Chris Lane

“Everyone grew up around that tree in the group and it means so much to us and the community of Fairfield. Now it’s like a little national treasure,” Ms Trauntner said.

“It means everything to have it listed. It has been protected on a local level for a long time but to have it nationally recognised ensures its long term survival.”

When Ms Trauntner, who now lives at the Sunshine Coast, 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.

Her grandson Lukas Sullivan is the fifth generation from her family to play on the tree which is today propped up by iron struts.

She 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.”

Dr William Bland 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.

It is believed the tree was planted from a seed that may have been given to Dr Bland by one of his botanically minded friends such as the Australian explorer, journalist and politician William Wentworth.

The tree was the largest in Australia until it split in a storm early on New Year Day 1941 believed to be from a lightning strike and the enormous weight of wet leaves.

Mayor Carbone said the Bland Oak represents a significant part of Fairfield’s heritage and is an “historic symbol” of the city.

“I would like to thank the residents of Carramar and Villawood, particularly Lisa Trauntner, for contacting me to ask that the tree be listed,” he said.

 “The tree’s unique shape tells a story of hardship, endurance and healing – a story that many of us can relate to.

“I am overjoyed that the tree has received the recognition it deserves and will continue to stand as a reminder of our rich history for generations to come.

“The tree stands as a reminder of our past and the journey our city has taken. It’s wonderful for our community that it’s now been recognised by the National Trust. This indicates not only its close connection with our local past and people, but now its importance to our nation’s history.”