Earliest memories of Kwinana: Trees

At the launch of Voices of Kwinana, we began to ask people:

“What’s your earliest memory of Kwinana?”

We invited everyone to participate, whether their first memory was attending the Heritage Week event that day or moving to the area decades ago. Collecting these memories, from a range of people, over a range of time, will allow us to create a wonderful timeline of first memories of Kwinana.

The responses given so far have a theme running through most of them: trees.

Trees and natural bushland can be found throughout Kwinana, in wide areas of bushland to tree-lined streets.  In a record about the Medina Avenue trees, the Heritage Council of Western Australia notes that:

“Despite the emphasis on retaining large portions of natural bushland in the plan for Kwinana, a number of the residential streets, most notably Medina Avenue, were also planted with homogenous rows of feature trees, including Jacarandas, peppermints, Cape Lilacs, and Weeping Fig. These plantings have continued to be maintained and have prospered, contributing to the attractive appearance of many streets.”

The continued presence of trees in the modern City of Kwinana is part of the legacy of Margaret Feilman. Margaret incorporated bushland and open natural spaces into her plans for what would later become the City of Kwinana.

Ridley Green Medina
Trees at Ridley Green Medina

It is also important to recognise that the trees have special meanings and uses for the Aboriginal people of the area, and have done so since before Margaret incorporated bushland into her plans.

The Spectacles Wetlands in particular is important to Aboriginal people. An Alcoa case study on the Spectacles Wetlands mentions:

“The Spectacles is part of the major and ancient trade route that follows the freshwater lakes linking the Aboriginal peoples of the Murray and Swan rivers. The area has cultural significance as a ceremonial, camping and food gathering site.”

In an article in the Weekend Courier newspaper, respected Aboriginal Elder Theresa Walley mentions that the Banksia tree, found in the Spectacles Wetlands, can be used as a fire-stick, the nectar from the flower can be made into a cordial-like drink, and the tree ashes can be used as a healing agent.

The Urban Bushland Council also notes that “The Spectacles wetlands has one of the largest stands of Paper-bark woodland in the metropolitan area”.  Uses for Paper-bark include making water containers, mats, wallets and liners for babies baskets.

The Spectacles wetlands reserve
Paper-bark trees at the Spectacles wetlands reserve
The Spectacles wetlands reserve boardwalk
The Spectacles wetlands reserve boardwalk

Paper-bark trees and sweeping views of the Spectacles can also be seen in the recent City of Kwinana video “Why I love it”:

Here are some of the responses we have received so far that talk about Kwinana’s trees:

Earliest memory of Kwinana - 1

“When I moved here 15 years ago, I’d never heard of Medina. When I drove down Medina Ave, I could breathe. The trees. To have a 60ft high sugar gum and a 40ft high lemon scented gum in my yard is a privilege.”

Earliest memory of Kwinana - 2 - Councillor Sandra Lee.jpg

Councillor Sandra Lee writes:
“Driving down to Kwinana beach and having swimming lessons.
Spending the whole day with a bunch of local children in the bush.
Loving the thousands of acres of bush to play in, such freedom and beauty.
The warmth of local people who became each others extended families.”

Earliest memory of Kwinana - 4.jpg

“Driving down Gilmore Ave and being surprised by all the trees – a lovely wide road.”

Earliest memory of Kwinana - 10.jpg

“The tree lined roads, and lovely park area, the friendly neighbours and large blocks. We moved to Kwinana twelve months ago and have made our home here.”

Are trees your first memory of Kwinana? Do you have a favourite photograph of trees or bushland in Kwinana? Leave a comment here, or email us at library@kwinana.wa.gov.au

References and further reading:
Government of Western Australia inHerit: Medina Avenue Trees http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/Public/Inventory/Details/79f91882-6e86-406d-83d4-1b081e89d402
Australian National Botanic Gardens: Aboriginal plant use and technology http://www.cpbr.gov.au/gardens/education/programs/pdfs/aboriginal_plant_use_and_technology.pdf 
Urban Bush Council http://www.bushlandperth.org.au/member-groups/4-south-of-the-river/60-friends-of-the-spectacles
Alcoa Inc. Case Study: The Spectales Wetlands  https://www.alcoa.com/australia/en/info_page/sustain_communities_case_wetlands.asp
Learning the secrets of the ancient ways. Weekend Courier, Friday May 7 2004.
This article is included in the Town of Kwinana 50th anniversary : mid year update. This collection of articles and letters can be viewed in the library.