June 2017: The Tree That Crossed Over To The Other Side Of The River
I have lingered more than once where the King Karri Tree Walk crosses over the Donnelly River, entranced by the dance of the water as the flow accommodates itself to pass under the narrow span of the footbridge. So I was pleasantly surprised when, not being distracted by the hypnotic rhythms of the water, and alerted by the sight of a pair of trees growing on the top of a log with their exposed roots slithering down its sides, the seasonally dry river presented a new revelation – a tree that had been growing on the south bank had crossed over to the north.
The "trees" that were growing on top of a dead log
I can only surmise at the circumstances…
- - The path of the walk had originally been a minor narrow forest track leading out of the nearby Donnelly River Mill Townsite.
- - The culverts at the river crossing had been too small for the job causing the stream to pond and deposit silt.
- - The ground became too soft to hold a nearby tree and it fell, straddling the main channel.
- - New branches grew up towards the light from the prone stem.
- - As they grew their increasing weight pushed the stem deeper into the soft ground.
- - That, along with the continued silting, caused the base of these new branches to be covered with soil.
- - This enabled roots to develop out of the same cluster of stem cells from which those branches had sprouted, roots that were much needed for the ongoing stability of the new growth.
- - The mill closed in 1978. The associated village was repurposed for recreation and education.
- - The inadequate culverts were replaced for the new walk-track by a footbridge over the main channel and by a substantial all weather curving causeway across the flood plain.
- - During construction the straddling tree was identified as a potential threat that could be swept against the footbridge in a major flood.
- - Its elevated trunk was therefore cut on either side of the main channel allowing it to drop onto the river bed.
- - The new tree-like branches were now completely severed from their original roots on the other side of the river.
- - The stem they had sprouted from then died back but remained locked in their embrace.
- - The dynamics of the new curved causeway caused floodwaters to carry away silt deposited in the previous incarnation partially exposing the roots and their parent decaying stem.
The pieces of the original tree stretched across the river bed
So this, potentially, is how the spectacle of twin trees growing perched on top of a log came
into being. However they, along with a third which is growing bent away from them, are but
branches of a single intrepid tree, one which crossed over to the other side of the river.
Andrew June 2017
Tree Nursery Tree Consultancy
Postal Address: PO Box 21 Balingup Western Australia 6253
Telephone/Fax: 08 9764 1113