The famous Wallan Palm Tree. Famous for being the brunt of memes and jokes to turn it into an attraction to bring tourists to Wallan.
It has been suggested on Kilmore and Wallan Facebook Groups the tree could be used to hang thongs, a place where lovers can chain their romantic padlocks, and from where Australian flags could be flown on Australia day.
As hilarious as it may seem, I submit that the tree is famous for the wrong reasons. Perhaps we can change that?
The palm tree stood gloriously in the front garden of ‘Kingston’, the home of John Thomas and Mabel Tregellis of Wallan. In the below photo, ‘Kingston’ can be seen on the gate. Their house in the background is dwarfed by the tree. John was always known as Jack and was a prisoner of war in the second World War. Thankfully he returned home safely to Wallan but as was the case for a lot of soldiers who returned from war – was quiet, kept to himself and was rarely seen. An obituary from the Herald Sun in 1963 states the following:
“Mr Jack Tregellis (tpi) 9th Dec at RGH Hiedelburg, Loved husband of Mabelle, late 4th M.T 8th Div.ex pow Changi Late of Hume Highway Wallan.”
A tribute cross with knitted poppies was placed on the palm tree for many years around Anzac day. Jack and Mabel Tregellis had one daughter by the name of Suzanne and it is speculated that she was the one who placed the cross on the tree.
As the Tregellis house became a victim to time and progress and the family moved on, the tree stood witness to Wallan transforming from a country town into a suburban hub of Melbourne. If the palm tree had the ability to speak, what wonderous stories would it have had to recount?
Ignoring the protests of some of the residents of Wallan, the ground surrounding the tree was asphalted as part of the parking area for new shops. It battled on for as long as possible but eventually submitted to its death due to lack of oxygen and water around 2014; such a pitiful and unjust end to a palm tree which undoubtedly deserved more.
So perhaps as we glance and look upon the tree today and in the future we don’t make it the subject of jokes. Perhaps we take a moment, bow our head, pay respects and thank it for its service to Wallan. It would be the right and honourable thing to do.