DARWIN (AUS): Fannie Bay’s Banyan trees have been providing diverse benefits to Darwin residents and visitors over many decades. One unique way was the manner in which they served the Australian Air Force during World War II.
The Aviation Heritage signboard at the site states: “The banyan trees provided shelter for crews that worked on the Spitfires. Remnants of winch chains and bars are still embedded in the branches and aerial roots…[and] suggest that the tree’s sturdy branches were used to hoist heavy machinery or aircraft engines. The Fannie Bay Banyan trees…would have witnessed great events in Darwin’s aviation history.”
Trees are revered as sacred in many ancient, indigenous and pagan traditions around the world. However, the same type of reverence for trees is not usually seen in contemporary/modern Western society, except in cases when people see a tree as being particularly old, beautiful or somehow inspirational to them. The case of the Fannie Bay Banyan Tree provides an example of how culture and heritage can ascribe importance to a particular site over time.
It is interesting to see how perceptions of the same tree would have changed over the last 65 years. Asking The Question – “What did nature do for you today?” – with specific reference to the banyans to the local air force crew during WWII would give very different answers to what locals would answer today.
“They used that tree to haul engines out of aircraft during the second world war. The hangars and runway were just nearby. ” said local resident Rod looking up at the massive aerial roots “There’s a lot of history here.”
Recent suggestions by the local council to remove the tree due to safety concerns has been met by considerable local opposition.