A corridor of red poincianas was planted along the Cook Highway in the 1930-40s to lure tourists to drive the scenic route to Mossman, according to James Cook University research.
Historical geographer Dr Peter Griggs from JCU’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is investigating the history of street tree planting in Queensland and will give an insight into his work at a free public lecture at the Cairns campus on October 25.
The lecture will focus on the creation of European-like parks and gardens and amenity tree planting for shade, beautification or as memorials to deceased soldiers.
“In many Queensland towns and cities the early European settlers removed all native vegetation and then planted non-native species such as jacaranda, poinciana, mango, tamarind and bauhinia as part of urban beautification schemes,” Dr Griggs said.
“The main advocate of street tree planting in colonial Queensland was the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, its members believing that Queensland’s newly established towns lacked shade.
“The Society also established its own extensive gardens in inner Brisbane, where numerous exotic tropical tree species and agricultural crops were grown to see if they were suited to Queensland’s environmental conditions.
“Many of these imported tree species were sent to botanic gardens in other parts of Queensland and can still be seen today, for example the Cooktown Botanic Gardens is home to an endangered species of Madagascan palm.
“Cairns is one of the few places where this did not happen because today’s botanic garden was originally established as a private garden. The city also missed out on the early street tree planting schemes as the original surveyors left many of the large native trees standing when clearing was done for roads and public reserves.
“However, evidence of the Main Roads highway beautifications schemes of the 1930-40s can be seen at Ellis Beach where a stand of mango trees are all that remain of the poincianas, African tulips and cassias that were used to beautify that area.”
The lecture is based upon Dr Griggs’ new research for the project Changing the Sunshine State: An Environmental History of Queensland since European Settlement which will include the production of a full length, illustrated book on the environmental history of Queensland.
Creating a new landscape: establishing public parks and gardens and amenity tree planting in Queensland,1860-1960 is the latest in James Cook University’s annual series of public lectures in science and engineering.
The lecture will be held in the Crowther Theatre at James Cook University in Smithfield on Thursday, October 25. Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm and the lecture will begin at 6pm.
Issued October 18, 2012
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