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Betty's Trip - Photo 16

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The Tree of Knowlege at Barcaldine. It is of major importance in Australian Labor Party history.

The following has been extracted from the Queensland Forestry Newsletter No. 45, December 2006

DEATH OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE The Tree of Knowledge was one to the main attractions (along with many large old wooden pubs) of the central Queensland town of Barcaldine. The tree is famous as the location of meetings of shearers during the great strikes of 1891. The strikers were broken by the government and 13 leaders were gaoled. The labour movement realised that in order to achieve their aims they needed political rather than industrial power, and this lead ultimately to the formation of the Australian Labour (stet) Party. The tree's fame is due to its links to these early developments in Australian democracy. About 30 litres of poison were poured onto the tree's roots and despite attempts to save it the old tree died.

In the early 1990s the tree had shown signs of poor vigour and the Forest Service had successfully propagated it from a cutting. The young tree was planted in the Workers' Heritage Centre in Barcaldine on Labour Day 2005.

This article appeared in the Sydney Sun-Herald on 20 August, 2006.

Labor Party faithful may soon be able to grow their own Tree of Knowledge from cloned shoots of the original tree that had a colourful role in the birth of the ALP.
The 200-year-old ghost gum at Barceldine in central Queensland died when 20 litres of pesticide was dumped on it earlier this year.
Now the shire council is planning to grow cuttings from a shoot taken from the original tree and planted in the grounds of the town's Workers Heritage Centre 10 years ago.
The original Tree of Knowledge was the meeting point for shearers during the strike of 1891 that led to the birth of the ALP.
Barcaldine Shire council CEO Stuart Randle hopes cuttings from the three-metre new tree, known as the Young'un, will mass produce clones.
"The price per cutting could range anywhere from $10 to $100", he said.

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Updated : 18 May 2008