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May 2014: Film Our Tree- Forged by Fire is Screened at Federation Square, Melbourne

Our Tree screened at Federation Square, Melbourne

We're delighted to announce that the short film: Our Tree - Forged by Fire, will be screened on the Big Screen at Federation Square in Melbourne as part of the Human Rights Art and Film Festival this month. This documentary by local filmmaker Andrew Garton, illuminates stories of resilience and healing through the making of The Blacksmiths Tree, from its inception to its completion.

By combining locally composed music, stills, videos, time-lapse, aerial footage and interviews shot by blacksmiths, volunteers, film-makers and the general public, Our Tree – Forged From Fire, tells a story of how the idea of forging a few leaves gathered artisans with strong community traditions to create the 9.8 metre, 3 tonne stainless steel and copper Tree. This is a free event, all welcome.

The film, which runs for around 10mins will be screened at 6pm on the following dates:

Saturday 10 May, Tuesday 13 May, Thusday 15 May and Monday 19 May

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

The Tree in Strathewen

April 2014: Landscaping the Tree Site

Landscaping at the tree site

The rock which will sit at the base of the Tree is bought on to site. Thanks to Luke from Cathedral Stone and Paul from Holcor for drilling and splitting our three tonne rock.

Landscaping at the tree site

Volunteers plant and mulch at the Tree site

Landscaping at the tree site

Before and After

Landscaping has commenced at the site of the tree. The once flat bare patch of ground now has a curved path, swales and elevations. Plants indigenous to Strathewen have been propagated and donated by volunteers at Stringybark Nursery. Local residents, our assembly team and Landcare groups came out in force to plant, install mesh guards, move rocks and mulch the site. Volunteers from Encouraging Women in Horticulture donated their skills to refining the landscape design. There will be more planting in May and the final planting in September this year.


14 February 2014: The Tree is Erected in Strathewen

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

The Tree arrives in Strathewen

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

The cranes start to lift the Tree into position

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

Last view of the underside of the baseplate with words from the children's choir song

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

The Tree is finally craned into position and lowered onto the foundation bolts

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

The Tree stands in its permanent home in Strathewen

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

Welders, blacksmiths and supporters standing under the Tree for the first time

Tree installed in Strathewen 14 Feb 2014

Date of installation; 14 Febuary 2014

On Valentine's Day, 14 February 2014, the Blacksmith's Tree was installed in Strathewen. After an early morning journey from Whittlesea on the back of a truck, the Tree was delicately craned into position, remarkably without disturbing a single leaf. Thankyou to Ian and Mark from Truline Engineering who choreographed the ballet of cranes and Tree. Just before 7.30am, the Tree was finally bolted into place. A small group of Strathewen residents and Tree Project volunteers including our engineer Grahame Rowe from SKM and our head blacksmiths and welders were in attendance. Shortly afterwards, as the first rays of sunlight broke through the cloud, a small finch was seen perching on one of the branches.

The site will remain a construction area for quite some time. We expect to install pathways and seating over the next few months. The Tree and the site will be looking good by mid year and looking best after September 2014 when the final planting will take place. If you do visit earlier, we ask that you please be mindful of the local community in Strathewen who are still recovering from the destruction of Black Saturday. Quiet visits of small groups would be appreciated.

Thankyou to our supporters who have been with us throughout this journey. 14 February is five years to the day that the idea of the Tree was conceived. We are very proud of the hundreds of people who have devoted their time and skills to the Tree since we began in 2009. The Tree will stand permanently in Strathewen as symbol of the bright spirit that has flourished so remarkably after such terrible destruction.


26 January 2014: Our Project Manager named Nillumbik's Citizen of the Year and Woman of the Year

Project Manager, Amanda Gibson

Amanda wearing her trademark tiara-hard hat

Our Project Manager, Amanda Gibson was very proud to accept a Nillumbik Australia Day Award naming her Citizen of the Year for 2014. She is also the recipient of the Selina Sutherland International Women's Day Woman of the Year Award. Both awards are for her work on the Tree Project over the past five years. As she said in her acceptance speech on Australia Day, the Tree is not her work alone, hundreds of committed people have worked to create the tree and make it as beautiful as it is. These awards represent the love and dedication of everyone who has had a hand in building and supporting this extraordinary project.


January 2014: Substructure Installed

Installing the substructure

The steel cage that will support the tree is lowered into the ground

Installing the substructure

Concreting the cage in place

Installing the substructure

The Wishbox: carried throughout the fire affected communities since 2009 and containing wishes and hopes for the future. It has finally been buried where the tree will stand.

Installing the substructure

Installation team with the bolts that will secure the Tree

The steel cage that forms the substructure has been concreted into the ground at the tree site in Strathewen. It will take a month for the concrete to cure before the tree can be bolted on. The structure, including eight specially manufactured stainless steel bolts has been made by Truline Engineering who also have the difficult job of transporting the tree and fitting it over the bolts next month.

The steel cage that will support the Tree is lowered into the ground


30 November 2013: The Completed Tree is on Display for the First Time

Launch Event 30 November 2013

Footage of the Tree Launch Event courtesy of Seven News

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Crowds attending the Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

The Chocolate Lilies Choir singing at the Launch Event

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Roland forging for the crowd with his famous steel roses in the foreground

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Hands on the steel trunk

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Head Blacksmiths Roland and Doug and Project Manager Amanda just after the final message is stamped into the trunk

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

The young Blacksmiths' Tree Choir singing their song written about the tree

Tree Launch in Whittlesea

Part of the lyrics written by school children on the base of the tree. The lines read: I HAVE RISEN FROM THE FLAMES - I HAVE STRETCHED ACROSS THE EARTH - I AM SHINING WITH YOUR NAME

It was a beautiful clear day at the Whittlesea Showgrounds where the completed tree was celebrated. Over 2000 people attended to see the tree, watch the blacksmtihs forging and meet the people who have worked tirelessly over the past five years. Local musicians and choirs donated their time to provide music throughout the day. A highlight of the day was the Blacksmiths' Tree Choir; a group of school children from schools in the fire affected communities performing a song they had written about the tree. We love their song so much that we stamped three lines of it onto the base plate of the tree.

We would like to thank Whittlesea Shire Council for their support on the day, the CFA who managed the parking and our local Lion's Club, Rotary Club and Country Women's Association as well as all our dedicated volunteers.

Footage of the Tree Launch Event courtesy of Barry Thomas and the Black Saturday Museum


November 2013: The Tree is Assembled

Welding the Tree

Max from Alustain Installations begins the structural welding

Welding the Tree

Branches laid out ready for welding

Welding the Tree

The beginning of a branch

Welding the Tree

The large branches taking shape

Welding the Tree

A main branch is attached to the trunk

Welding the Tree

The last of the main branches is attached to the trunk

After months of welding, the tree is finally complete. A dedicated team of volunteer welders has been working day and night since June to piece the intricate branches together ready for the structural welding. The main welding includes welding 31 branches with foliage onto nine large branches. Each of those branches are 50mm in diameter at the base. These are welded to three main branches 75mm in diameter at the base. Then the three complete branches are welded onto the trunk, one becomes the top of the tree, the other two are side branches. Our structural welders; Brian, Max and Brett are expert stainless steel welders from Alustain Installations and are volunteering three nights to put the tree together for us.

Time lapse video of the assembly courtesy of Barry Thomas and the Black Saturday Museum