Monday, 11 October 2010

New Business Venture

Since Gaw's announcement that he's launching into publishing, I've been thinking that I ought to have an initiative too. So, after much consideration, I've decided to go into the travel business, although, to be honest, I have no idea when. In fact, I would have to acknowledge that bits of my 'business plan' are not yet completely sorted out - oh all right, I admit it: I've only got as far as the basic idea. Still that didn't stop EL Wisty from going down to the Patents Office, so why on earth should it hold me back?

The essence of my plan is founded on my conviction that, in the wake of Dutch Elm Disease, there is a yearning for the 'mellow whispering calms' of elm trees sweeping the nations of Europe (particularly now that October is upon us). To assuage this longing I am, (for what I'm sure will be seen as a very modest fee), prepared to lead parties through the south-eastern states of Australia, visiting what may now be the world's finest, most venerable elms.

You see, not many people know this, (to quote someone or other), but elms in Australia go back to at least 1803. It was then that Governor King, the third governor of New South Wales, had some young elm trees sent over from England. Whether any of those original specimens are still surviving, I don't know - I'm not sure what the lifespan of an elm tree is. What I do know, however, (thanks mainly to Wikipedia) is that within the City of Melbourne alone there are 6,300 elms in parks and boulevards, while within the whole state of Victoria there are 33,789 of the trees on council-controlled land alone - with the number on private land estimated to be at least the same again.

Given the weight of numbers in that state, therefore, I think we might start in Victoria, making our initial stop the Royal Botanic Gardens where we will visit the elm planted there in 1846. We'll also go to Royal Parade, Victoria Parade and the Fitzroy Gardens, all of which are chockablock with nineteenth century elms. Then, when we've had our fill of Melbourne, we'll head off to Camperdown, near where my mother was born.

Camperdown has a noted avenue of elm trees ( I should point out that we will avoid nearby Mortlake, where the trees - not elms anyway - are so hideously pollarded that the only suitable greeting for strangers at certain times of the year is, 'Welcome to Mortlake where the trees grow upside down.').

Rather than that, we'll go on from Camperdown to Ballarat to see the 22-kilometre post-World War II commemorative avenue of honour, consisting exclusively of English and Dutch elms. Then we'll head interstate to Bowral (visiting the Don Bradman Museum, if there are any cricket lovers amongst us) and Orange and Wagga, which are all thick with elms as well. If we have time, we'll double back to South Australia and Tasmania, to see the plantings in the Barossa Valley (and possibly manage to down the odd dozen or so glasses of wine while we're there) and those in Hobart, Launceston and Port Arthur.

At last, for our grand finale, we'll end up with a trip to my mother's place not far from Yass.  She is such a tremendously sociable and hospitable woman, (as readers who have met her will appreciate) that I know she will be thrilled to greet us warmly as we all crowd around to view the vast specimen which grows directly in front of her house. She will also be delighted if every member of the party digs up one of the tree's many suckers and takes it away as a souvenir (ideally, shooting a cockatoo, surreptitiously, and adding its body to the take home loot).


  1. I think you've got a strong tour there, Z. I trust it would be rounded off with a feast of spatchcocked, marinated and barbecued cockatoos accompanied by one of those robust Barossa reds?

    Should I ever have a couple of weeks to spare in south-eastern Australia I will certainly be in touch.

  2. I'll sign up! When we lived in Lyons our neighbour had a gorgeous English elm that spread over half their back yard and that we could see from the kitchen and family room. I loved it. And then we moved to our new house, and lo and behold there was an English elm in our yard/nature strip (not sure which) that we can see from our family room. It is in flower now and soon will obscure the house across the road. Beautiful. But it's probably only as old as the house ie around 22 years old.

  3. No-one should commit themselves until they've seen my prices, which are inflating by the day, as my bank account depletes (there must be a way to escape the unpleasant link between work and money)

  4. When you've found that link zmkc, let me know....