MEMORIES of the iconic Chinderah fig tree resurfaced recently at the Tweed Rotary Club's art and woodturning exhibition.

On a display table was a simple sign, "Chinderah Fig 1890-2012," together with a box of finely turned pens and bowls, gleaming and polished, featuring the varied grain of the once mighty Chinderah fig.

This tree is recorded in many historical books and records and was of particular significance to the Chinderah community.

It was a daily reminder of the huge trees that grew in abundance on the fertile alluvial soil in the Tweed Valley.

According to family records, Chinderah resident Dixie Wilson's grandmother Martha planted the fig.

"It was a meeting place for young and old, especially for young lovers. When we snuck out, we'd say, 'Meet you at the tree.' It was at the Chinderah fig of course," Dixie said.

Without notice the fig was felled in the early morning and mulched. Fortunately, Councillor Katie Milne...was able to salvage some timber and had it donated to the Murwillumbah Men's Shed.

The first Chinderah Star Lighter Rugby Team was formed at the tree, where they held their first meeting, Dixie said.

"There were so many memories. We all miss it and it should never have been cut down."

Sandy Sorenson, of Chinderah, agreed. "It was a shock, I cried," she said. "This had been a landmark for us."

In 2012 the Chinderah Tavern wanted the tree removed for reasons of public safety and asked the Tweed Shire Council to investigate.

The council then arranged for an aborist's report. The community had an independent inspection and both arborists agreed the tree needed noxious cactus removed and some pruning, which was done but the experts disagreed on the need to remove the fig.

Without notice the fig was felled in the early morning and mulched.

Fortunately, Councillor Katie Milne, who had campaigned vigorously against the proposed removal, was able to salvage some timber and had it donated to the Murwillumbah Men's Shed, which gave the balance to the Tweed Valley Wood Turners, who thanked them by giving some members wood-turning lessons.

The loss of the tree still angers the local community, as Felicia Cecil, president of Chinderah Community Association, commented: "History had the greatest claim. This tree had so much significance to the area and it is a disgrace that such a wonderful and historic tree has been reduced to a handful of pens and some beautifully handcrafted bowls.

"But at least these can be handed down and will be a reminder of what we lost."



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