Ben Chifley Tree

In 1949 an evening phone call from Lindsay Pryor to Prime Minister Ben Chifley was all it took to arrange an official tree planting at the Botanic Gardens a couple of days later.

On 12 September 1949 during a visit by an international delegation of foresters, the Australian National Botanic Gardens were 'officially' started with the planting of an oak and a eucalypt by the Director of Kew Gardens, Sir Edward Salisbury, and the Prime Mininster of Australia, Ben Chifley.

The Canberra Times next day reported that Chifley planted the eucalypt and Salisbury planted the oak. This became the accepted wisdom for many years.

The oak, the tree actually planted by Chifley, was moved as a mature plant to Commonwealth Park in the late 1960s as it was considered inappropriate for a 'native' Gardens. It later died.

The plaque next to the Eucalyptus mannifera was placed there in the 1980s, the original plaque stating that Chifley planted the eucalypt. This plaque was replaced by the currrent one when the above photo came to light clearly showing Chifley planting the oak.

In the 1980s the eucalypt was in serious danger of dying due to the surrounding soil and mulch being piled to deep at its base where it was rotting. Considerable tree surgery was undertaken to save the tree.