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Living Lightly column

I talk to the trees

By John Whale
I met Wally early one morning while I was walking around Willow Park, after having moved down to Wodonga, just two and half years ago.

I instantly recognised his foliage and we immediately formed a close personal bond because he too had recently moved down from the same region as I had, the Blue Mountains.

Wally was in fact a Wollemi Pine and the rest of his ancient tribe had only recently been discovered living in seclusion, deep in a remote ravine, by an officer with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.

That man was David Noble and as a result the species is now known as Wollemia nobilis in his honour.

Unlike like me, David did not instantly recognise who Wally’s relatives were and it took him several months of intensive research to discover that Wally’s mob had in fact been around for over 200 million years. They had not only populated the Blue Mountains but a large part of Gondwanaland as well.

I say hello to Wally every morning as part of my daily routine walk and engage in a brief discussion with him, mainly about the weather.

However, one morning I inadvertently mentioned the subject of Covid 19, and he responded by mentioning the subject of extinction, saying that his distant relatives had watched the dinosaurs disappear of the planet and now Homo sapiens were potentially facing a similar fate.

He said dinosaurs had jointly shared the natural resources amicably with his distant relatives and they had made little or no impact on the environment, but the same could not be said about their successors as the dominant species, the human race.

Dinosaurs did not have chain saws, coal fired power stations or multiple other methods of damaging the climate by producing toxic gases and industrial waste.

Wally said that he sincerely hoped that I and my fellow Homo sapiens would survive, as we had contributed not only to the preservation of his tribe but in the successful propagation of them across the whole of Australia.

But he added that these sentiments were not universally shared by the majority of his fellow members in the arboreal community.

We parted on a very sad note that morning.