A photo essay documenting ancient Red Gums in the City of Whittlesea.
The photos in this exhibition were taken in May 2021, between lockdowns, at a time when surging population growth saw Melbourne expand dramatically northward, past relatively new suburbs of Doreen and South Morang, to farmland areas of Mernda, Donnybrook and beyond. Cleared fields teamed with cranes, bulldozers and builders laying the infrastructure for massive new communities: roads, houses, libraries, community centres and shopping complexes. A sad side effect of this development was the felling of many of the region’s iconic river red gums.
Believing that future generations should be able to see what places looked like centuries before, Council commissioned this work by Stephen McKenzie, a Melbourne photojournalist, for the City of Whittlesea Cultural Collection
Stephen drove around for three days, ‘stopping to photograph stately, dramatic, gnarled, and stoic trees I formerly paid scant attention’, marvelling at how they ‘changed colour with the movement of sun and cloud, how some danced in the wind, while others stood defiantly still… entranced by the age of some, the uniqueness of others and, in pockets of Doreen and South Morang, thrilled at the number of stunning red gums integral to the streetscapes’.
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