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From The Vault: December 5, 2005

September 5th, 2007 at 04:52pm

In the last few hours I have realised that we have been in a new month for four and a half days and I haven’t yet reproduced an article from the vault…something I’m supposed to do on the first day of the month.

This month we are going back to the 5th of December 2005, and a rather memorable issue involving a tree.

The Tree Saga

December 5th, 2005 at 11:46pm

On Friday afternoon, three mini tornadoes swept through Canberra, killing one person and damaging a lot of buildings and trees. One such tree and building combination was my house and the gum tree next to it.

It was about 4:30 or so when the storm struck, during it a very large banging sound was heard coming from the roof of my home, This was very short lived and sounded like very large hail hitting the roof.

Around 6PM the next door neighbours noticed the large gum tree had broken and was leaning on my house. It had hit the building with quite a bit of force, but was rotten in the middle and therefore quite soft, this caused the tree to break up upon impact and cause minimal damage. It did however manage to scatter debris over the roof and front of the house. The tree hit the side of the house, near the back.

Here we have the mess in the front yard (there was much more outside the gate, but I was using the small memory card which didn’t have enough space).
Front Yard Mess
Front Yard Mess
Front Yard Mess

I also got some photos of the part of the tree overhanging the front of the roof.
Tree over front of house
Tree over front of house

At this stage we weren’t actually aware of how the tree was situated, and what damage had been caused, but the job had been logged with the SES. The fire brigade were in the area and turned up within minutes of the job being logged, as nobody knew that the tree was rotten, the area was closed due to the chance of the tree moving in the wind and causing more damage. The tree trunk was only balancing on 1 inch of the stump.

The fire brigade signed over the area to the landlord’s contractor, “spotless services” or something to that effect, who then started coordinating the cleanup. This involved relocating my family and the neighbours for the night whilst Spotless and the tree surgeons decided what to do.

I took some photos of the tree, the first one was without a flash and the camera did an interesting job of leaving the lens open for about 10 seconds for the photo.
The tree

The next two were with a flash.
The tree
The tree

The landlord put up the family at the Olims Hotel, which is just up the road, unfortunately they don’t accept pets, so Nattie stayed with another nearby neighbour for the night, which was very exciting as she got to spend the night with a cat. Nattie had lots of fun chasing the cat around for most of the night, although not in a hunting manner, more of a playful manner. Nattie and the cat apparently had fun.

Not long after my family (including myself) were up at Olims, Loadedog passed by my place (he has a friend next door) and took some photos of the tree. He somehow made it look like the lights were on at my place in the first photo, and the man on the right of the second photo is Matthew from Spotless.
Tree and House
People, tree and house

The room at Olims was a “superior room” with a queen bed and a single bed (the queen bed looked slightly more double sized to me).
The beds

The room had some facilities as well, including the all important coffee making facilities.
The room

The thing with a cord hanging out of it is a “Daikin reverse cycle heat pump” and the TV is a budget brand sold at The Good Guys. The TV quite clearly shows the local free to air stations via TransACT.
The television

The bathroom was very nice.
The bathroom
The bathroom
The bathroom

It was close to midnight when we all sat down for a nice cup of coffee, so I went over to the clock radio/telephone and turned it on, it was unfortunately on one of Canberra’s commercial FM music stations, this situation was soon rectified, with 2CC being found within moments. Stuart Bocking was talking about the storms which had swept through most of New South Wales and the ACT, so I decided to ring him later to tell him about the tree.

Mum and Dad had a shower, so I took some more photos. In the first one you can see the complimentary single serve tea, coffee and sugar.
Coffee and Tea facilities

The second one shows the inside of the fridge, including the single use milk.
The Fridge

When Mum and Dad went to bed I went into the bathroom to do three things, ring Stuart Bocking, clean my teeth and have a shower. I rang 2UE and explained that I didn’t have much mobile phone credit left, and the lady who answered the phone put me in the queue and offered to ring me back when it was nearly my turn on air. I waited for a while for my phone to ring, and then it did, I had a good chat with Stuart Bocking, and then continued with my routine before going to bed.

The next morning at 6:30 everyone was awake and bog ordinary morning television was observed for one reason or another, it was mildly amusing, and close to 7am it was turned off and the radio turned on. After the news we all went and had some breakfast before wandering down to our place where tree removal was well underway. I had to go back to fetch the camera, so my parents went ahead of me. As I got closer I took these photos.
Tree removal
Tree removal
Burgess Horticultural Services
Parents, neighbour, contractor and Nattie
In the last picture, the lady holding Nattie’s lead is the neighbour who looked after her overnight.

The tree was more or less removed by this stage, it would appear that they decided to use a crane for safety reasons.
Tree removed with crane
B & B Crane & Rigging

They were still clearing the roof though. You can see some roof damage in this photo.
Roof raking

And a closer view in this photo.
Roof Damage

Nattie was very pleased to see me.

The tree surgeons were just about ready to chip the tree, here you can see the man from Spotless going over to ask for some souvenier pieces.
More of the tree on the ground

And one of the tree surgeons bringing some over.

After this they got to work on processing the tree, or at least the bits small enough to process on site.
Tree Chipping
Tree Chipping
Tree Chipping
Tree Chipping

The bits which were too big for chipping were placed into the back of a truck with the help of a bobcat.
Bobcat moves tree bits
Bobcat moves tree bits

I took a photo of my souvenier piece.
Souvenier piece of fallen tree

The tree surgeons were efficient, fast and busy.
Tree surgeons at work

The bobcat had to cross the road a couple times
Bobcat about to cross road

I got a better view of the damage (although I never got to see the damage on top of the roof).
Tree damage

At this stage there was still a piece of tree on the roof.
More tree on roof

This didn’t seem to phase Nattie one bit.

After this I crossed the road and went into the neighbours yard, where they were inspecting the tree stump. I got a very good closeup shot of the damage from there.
Storm Damage

The tree stump.
Tree Stump

Then I took another two photos of the damage, the second one is better as it doesn’t have the excess background light.
Damage overview
Damage closeup

After a structural inspection we were allowed back into the house, and promptly noticed some pieces of the tree in the backyard.
Backyard post-storm

After this we returned to the hotel to collect our belongings. I took some more photos, firstly the access card.
Olims Hotel Door Key
Olims Hotel Door Key

Then of the hotel room door (Room 206).
Olims room 206
It turns out that our next door neighbour at home had been accomodated in room 208, right next door to us at the hotel.

Here is a fountain at Olims.
Olims Hotel Fountain

Overall we were lucky that this 40 year old tree was rotting, as a solid tree falling the way it did would most probably have caused much more damage, and with the building being built the way it was, probably caused a partial collapse. In the end we got to have a nice mini-holiday and some special excitement for the weekend. In some ways, it could even be described as fun!



1. snappedphoenix | December 6th, 2005 at 8:17 pm

I’m glad everything is okay, and your dog is quite cute!

2. John B1_B5 | December 6th, 2005 at 10:49 pm

Lot of great pics there Samuel , and as you mentioned, it COULD have been worse .

3. jingle | December 7th, 2005 at 6:26 pm

Thank god no injury, and all the work was done so quick!.
Nattie looks rather happy!.

4. Samspam | December 8th, 2005 at 12:22 am

I am also glad to see that Nattie was safe and well. I was in the middle of a bowel movement at 4.39 when the storm stuck. Lucky we were not hit by any falling trees as we just finished painting the outside of our house, around 2.51 p.m the night before.

5. Samuel | December 8th, 2005 at 12:26 am

2:51pm at night? Hmmm, are we talking 2:59am (early morning/late night depending on your point of view) or 2:59pm (afternoon)?

6. jingle | December 8th, 2005 at 12:27 am

So glad to hear normal activities are done and no life is lost during these horrific storms

7. Samuel | December 8th, 2005 at 12:30 am

No, one of the Prime Minister’s gardeners was hit by a tree and died in the storm, it is sad that these things happen, but it just goes to show that we are all vulnerable to nature’s various moods.

8. jingle | December 8th, 2005 at 4:09 pm

Yes it does go to show what “mother nature “can do , and it could happen at anytime

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1 Comment

  • 1. Tony  |  September 5th, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I think that I shall never see
    A tree that hasn’t been dog pee’d
    I love trees, I’m a tree hugger.
    Some of my best relationships have been with trees.
    Oh Petula the pine I remember you well.
    Gloria the gum you were all branches and forever losing bits.
    Wanda the wattle well we just didn’t care wattle the neighbours think.
    It makes me sad when we see whole areas stripped of all trees so some yuppies can have a house.
    Reminds me of the Pete Seeger classic Little Boxes.

    Little boxes on the hillside
    Little boxes made of ticky tacky
    Little boxes
    Little boxes
    little boxes all the same
    There’s a green one and a blue one and a red and a yellow one and they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.


September 2007

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