Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek.
Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek. Susanna Freymark

1000-year-old tree hidden on farmer's property

FOR seven years Don Durrant patiently planted 30,000 rainforest tree saplings on the curve of the hill on his 760 acre property.

He purchased the property specifically for regeneration, never suspecting the surprise hidden deep in the dense rainforest.

Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek.
Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek. Susanna Freymark

Motivated to "give back more than I take," the slight yet determined figure of the 76-year-old farmer removing Crofton weed and lantana was mostly unseen in the Ironpot Creek forest.

"I was planting trees on the north side," Don said.

"They didn't do so well so I moved to the south side."

He looks after each tree for seven years before it is mature enough to fend for itself.

"I plant them close together to stop the weeds," he said.

He planted so many trees, a friend said the plastic tree guards made his property look like a cemetery.

As Don drives his Toyota ute up and down the steep track winding its way deeper into the forest, he laughs as the setting sun hits the saplings in their plastic guards.

"I see what she means," he said.

But this is a place where trees come to live, not die.

And only 100 metres from where Don had been planting and criss crossing the hill was an ancient tree whose life span was estimated at 1000 years.

 

Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek.
Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek. Susanna Freymark

When the Githabul people roamed the same land Don was regenerating, the Moreton Bay fig would have towered over the rainforest and the people below.

It was only one month ago that Don stumbled across the giant fig tree. He was drawn to the area because stinger trees had sprouted and Don knew something had happened.

"That means there's been a disturbance," he said.

The top part of the Moreton Bay fig tree had fallen to the ground.

Yet the enormous girth and buttress roots higher than a tall person indicated the majesty of the tree.

It was impossible to get a photo. The crown of the tree disappeared into the canopy and darkening sky above.

"I bought a botanist from Queensland to age the tree and he estimated it was 1000 years old," Don said.

The correct age of tree is difficult to asses because figs don't have rings like most other trees.

"I wish I had seen it before the top fell off," Don said again wistfully.

 

Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek.
Don Durrant discovered an ancient fig tree, estimated to be 1000 years old on his property at Ironpot Creek. Susanna Freymark

Various people come and help with planting and groups of children have planted their own trees in the rainforest.

Don's respect and connection to the land is obvious in the way he talks about regeneration.

He plans to leave the place in better condition than he found it. Six people have been lucky enough to see the tree so far, Don said.

On the weekend he has invited friends to view the tree.

"I want to share the tree," he said.



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