Living treasures

Maldon's Bev Phillips with one of the town's pre-European living treasures - a Eucalyptus melliodora, or yellow box, estimated to be 530 years old.

Maldon's Bev Phillips with one of the town's pre-European living treasures - a Eucalyptus melliodora, or yellow box, estimated to be 530 years old.

At a carefully estimated 530 years of age the mighty yellow box tree standing at Maldon's Bill Woodfull Reserve was there well before Captain Cook found his way to Australia.

It stood during the Renaissance, as Leonardo da Vinci completed The Last Supper, and as Michelangelo added the finishing touches to The Last Judgement in Rome's Sistine Chapel.

Today it's one of 61 surviving eucalypts growing in Maldon township that have been identified as pre-European, somehow retaining their grip in the earth while all around them countless trees were axed during the Victorian Gold Rush.

Now, Saturday May 5 will present a unique chance to learn more about these local living treasures as they will be the subject of one of Maldon's popular Quarterly Conversations - only this will be a Quarterly Conversation with a difference, says conversation coordinator Bev Phillips.

That's because, Bev, who is also secretary of Maldon Urban Landcare, will lead a public walking tour taking in some of the pre-1852 living treasures themselves.

Bev says that last year Maldon Urban Landcare members organised a field day to survey all indigenous eucalypts in Maldon that might be classified as being over 165 years old.

"They ended up recording the 61 trees in Maldon and another 36 on the Maldon Historic Reserve," she says.

"To have 61 trees in town that were growing prior to European settlement makes them so very special, not just for the fact that they're a living tree giving harbour for birds, insects, animals - but they're part of our natural heritage."

The local landcare group is keen to work with Mount Alexander Shire to see the trees protected and their significance recognised.

This comes at a time when the shire's newly released 2018-19 draft budget includes an allocation of $120,000 for data collection on local park trees.

The upcoming Living Treasures tour is part of the National Trust Heritage Festival and will start at 1.30pm on Saturday May 5 from the rotunda at Maldon Shire Gardens.

"We've also hired a community bus and we'll also car pool and take a short drive to visit some of the trees further out," Bev says.

The $5 donation to take the tour includes refreshments and bookings aren't needed - although the tour is weather dependent.