A stainless steel tree with 3500 individually forged leaves will be a memorial to those who lost their lives in Victoria’s February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
A community day in Whittlesea celebrated the completion of the tree, which will stand eight metres high when it is installed in Strathewen, north-east of Melbourne.
Musical groups, school children, families and project supporters remembered the 173 people who died in the fires that destroyed more than 2000 homes. Strathewen lost 27 residents in the fires and most of the town’s major buildings.
Each leaf is inscribed with names of loved ones or messages of support and thanks for firefighters, and residents who fought the fires and later rallied behind communities. Students from Independent schools in the region provided inscriptions for the leaves on a branch sponsored by Independent Schools Victoria. The tree recognises the spirit that rebuilt Strathewen and put back together the community’s shattered lives.
The project was initiated by The Victorian branch of the Australian Blacksmiths Association. Blacksmiths from around Australia and the world crafted the tree, branches and leaves that together weigh more than two tonnes.
A video from the Whittlesea community day (Saturday – 30 November 2013).