On Saturday 7 February 2009, the State of Victoria, Australia experienced the worst natural disaster in the country's history - a raging fire so fast and so severe that many people were unable to get out of its path. Over 170 people perished, 7000 were left homeless, townships were destroyed and the grief in the affected communities was overwhelming.
To remember the people lost to the fires and our brave CFA men and women who battled the elements to protect our towns, the Australian Blacksmiths Association (Victoria) Inc. invited blacksmiths from across the country and around the world to contribute to The Tree Project.
Blacksmiths worldwide are helping grow a tree from their forges and fires; creating gum leaves from stainless steel or copper to be added to a forged gumtree. This gumtree is to be erected in Strathewen township as a memorial of these events, for the loss suffered and for the spirit of renewal.
The tree was first shown to the public on Saturday afternoon 30th of November at the Whittlesea Showgrounds. Around 2,000 people turned up during the afternoon, many to find leaves that they had sponsored.