‘Ms. Tree’?

The tree was absent from a ‘cultural heritage management plan’ completed in 2013 but in January 2017, ‘Ms.Tree’ was ‘identified’ as a ‘birthing tree’ by Indigenous woman Carmel Thannhauser who ‘saw the tree for the first time’ that month.

“Last-minute bid to save significant tree in path of Western Highway” – The Age

Feb 2017: The area in which it stands was assessed as part of a cultural heritage management plan completed in 2013, by Martang Inc., the Registered Aboriginal Party representing Djab Wurrung traditional owners.

‘The tree was not identified as being culturally significant’, the spokesperson said.

Indigenous woman Carmel Thannhauser [who] saw the tree for the first time this month, and was one of the three women who later lodged an application with the Ballarat office of the Aboriginal Heritage Register. Ms Thannhauser said it was clear that the hollow had been crafted by human hands.

I have no expertise, apart from feeling and understanding, however I just know that this tree is a birthing tree’, she said.

Ted Lovett, an Aboriginal elder who lives in Ballarat, has backed the women’s claim and said the tree must be saved.
‘It shouldn’t be touched, it’s a sacred site, it’s as simple as that’, Mr Lovett said.

Birthing trees dot the Victorian landscape and are places of ‘women’s business’ to be avoided by men, Mr Lovett said.

Source: The Age

So Lovett has either never seen the tree or he has violated a ‘sacred site’.

In June 2018:


VicRoads has announced imminent plans to remove trees on the Western Highway despite a strong protest from Aboriginal elders.

The trees have been flagged for removal as part of upgrades to the highway at Buangor, between Ballarat and Stawell.

The plans were announced more than a year ago but VicRoads only now has full approval to forge ahead.

VicRoads received permission, through Aboriginal Victoria, from traditional Djab Wurrung owners who said the trees were not culturally significant.

But other elders have been fighting to protect the trees.

‘They’re very sacred to me’, Djab Wurrung elder Ted Lovett OAM said.

‘It’s birthing trees and scarred trees and also there’s a canoe tree that’s fallen in one of the paddocks’.

Source: ABC Wimmera

“This is a scared(sic) birthing tree. It’s 800 years old. 1000s of people were born here. It’s a cultural cathedral of the Djab Wurrung people in Victoria, Australia. This and 3000 others will be destroyed to make a highway. We understand your pain France; we morn(sic) with you.” #NotreDame


The Origin of the Name Thannhauser

The name Thannhauser means ‘from Thannhausen’ in German. Thannhausen means ‘House in the Trees’. Thannhausen is a town in Swabia (now Bavaria), Germany. The Jewish community was expelled from Thannhausen, Swabia in about 1717/18. When last names were required of the Jews in about 1813, the descendants of this community took the name Thannhauser (meaning ‘from Thannhausen’).

Source: Kitty Munson Cooper’s Family History and Genealogy Site

Dare we suggest that Carmel might be dreaming about trees in the Black Forest?

A carved tree in the Black Forest

The 66 faces of the German forest.

In July 2018, the protest and sit-in began:

Key Victorian highway project held up as protesters dig in over ‘sacred’ trees

The on-ground protest began before the trees were scheduled to be removed on the Western Highway on Monday, June 18.

A protest group calling itself the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy said it had not been given “adequate opportunity for the protection of … sacred sites” by Aboriginal Victoria.

Source: ABC News

Where the hell is Buangor?

The Western Highway project

Now, in August 2019, The Age reports:

Traditional owners forming the ‘Djab Wurrung Embassy’ now argue that an extensive report was overlooked in the decision to approve the road project [on an Environmental basis].

The report … explains the significance of ‘sacred’ trees set for removal, including two centuries-old river red gums that the Djab Wurrung call ‘grandfather trees’, another old eucalypt known as the ‘directions tree’ and a dead, fallen tree called the ‘canoe tree’, where Djab Wurrung have removed the bark to use as a canoe.

The report argues that the ‘cultural sensitivity’ of Aboriginal sites at risk of destruction were excluded from the project’s risk ratings and its impact assessment methodology. When Aboriginal objects in archaeological sites were assessed, this was according to their ‘scientific value’ rather than the role they play in Aboriginal culture.

Source: The Age

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