Ancient grass tree in Yanchep dies after transplant

The dead grass tree at Campground Adventure Park. Picture: Homer Ford
The dead grass tree at Campground Adventure Park. Picture: Homer Ford

ILL fate has befallen a thousand year old grass tree that was transplanted almost three years ago.

The balga tree originally grew in an area east of Two Rocks Road in Yanchep, and Capricorn Beach developers recruited Grasstrees Australia to transplant it and several others in early 2017.

It was relocated to the Campground Adventure Park, built on the former Club Capricorn site, and initially seemed to grow well in its new environment.

However, Yanchep resident Homer Ford told Community News one of the trunks of the ancient tree had fallen off this week.

“The whole top of the thing has died,” he said.

“There was no growth; it started to look like it would fall off.

“It’s a shame – the thing was 1000 years old.

“It’s been growing fine for a thousand years-plus in the same area.”

The grass tree in its original location in 2014. Picture: Homer Ford

Mr Ford said the tree was likely to have been several hundred years old already when the Dutch first came ashore.

“They say they are very hard to transplant,” he said.

“They get used to the conditions in which they live.

“They tried to take a bit of that soil with it.”

Mr Ford said the tree seemed to be ok last year but had recently started to deteriorate and one trunk fell off this week.

Capricorn Beach project director Jarrod Rendell said the grass trees had been monitored and managed on a monthly basis since the transplant as part of regular landscape maintenance in the estate.

“We were advised at the time of the relocation that there is a high probability of any relocated grass tree not surviving, however we felt it was the right decision to attempt the transplant based upon the best expert advice at the time,” he said.

“The relocation was completed by specialists at Grasstrees Australia and the subsequent management and monitoring of the trees was done in accordance with the guidelines provided by them to our fully qualified landscape contractors.

“About six months after the relocations, we installed a permanent conservation-style fence around the grass trees to stop the vandalism and interference that was occurring in the early months following the transplant.

“We are uncertain of the exact cause of the grass tree not surviving the relocation.

“In recent days one of the main trunks of the large grass tree broke and collapsed to the ground.

“Inspections by our contractors have confirmed the grass tree had not survived the transplant.”

A sign about the grass tree at its original location in 2014. Picture: Homer Ford

Mr Ford said the grass tree originally grew in an area that was cleared for new homes and future shops.

“They came in and bulldozed the entire area there,” he said.

“They did leave a well of trees that are still down in a crevice along the side of that sand pile hill.

“There’s no buildings yet, just dirt.”

Mr Rendell said development works to create the shopping centre sites were finished in early 2018 and they had been working with several parties to develop the precinct.

“The current market conditions have delayed the commencement of the further development,” he said.

“However we are confident the delivery of the Yanchep rail station and improvement in market conditions will mean our vision for the local neighbourhood precinct will be delivered in the coming years.”

Mr Rendell said there was an endorsed flora and fauna management plan at Capricorn Yanchep that encouraged retention and protection of vegetation across the estate as development progressed.

“The benefits of the retention of existing mature vegetation such as the large mature tuart tree groves at Capricorn Yanchep are testament to the developers commitment to the implementation of the management plan,” he said.

Grasstrees Australia uprooted and relocated the grass trees in 2017. Picture: Martin Kennealey d467306