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The Proclamation Tree

It is surprising how many trees of historical and ornamental significance in Western Australia are Moreton Bay Figs.

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Description

At the junction of Queen Victoria, Adelaide and Parry Street, standing vigil at the entrance to the central city area of the busy port city of Fremantle is the Proclamation Tree.

This tree was planted on Wednesday 22 October 1890, the day following Proclamation Day by the then Governor Sir William Robinson, to celebrate the adoption of Western Australia’s new Constitution which came into force on Tuesday 21 October 1890 and by which the then colony acquired responsible self-government.

According to the press account of the planting:
The Mayor requested His Excellency to plant the commemoration of the great boon, which had been conferred on the colony. His Excellency having expressed his pleasure in complying, planted the tree using a gilded spade. This function over, the Mayor specially requested Sir William to address those present, reminding him that many had not heard him speak.

His Excellency graciously complied. He said that, having spoken so much since his arrival, he would not do more than express his hope that the tree just planted would flourish, and that its growth and size would be symbolical of the growth and magnitude of the free institutions and prosperity in store for the colony.

Inquirer 24 October 1890

The tree was provided by Phillip Webster, an auditor with the Fremantle Council of the day. Webster, a pioneer tree-lover in an era when reckless tree-felling was the norm, planted many of Fremantle’s oldest surviving trees, notably those by St John’s Church in King’s Square. Forty years later on 21 October 1930 the first grade boys of Fremantle Boys School donated and erected a plaque by the tree acknowledging its significance.

On Proclamation Day 1996, twenty of these students returned to the site to hear the then Governor of Western Australia Major General Michael Jeffery read the Proclamation and witness the unveiling of a restoration of the original plaque by the Mayor of Fremantle.

Location

Parry Street,Fremantle,WA

Map

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