Iconic Palm Cove paperbark tree to be chopped down

It's devastating to many locals, but one of the biggest melaleuca trees on the Palm Cove promenade has to come down, officials say.

"That tree is a magnificent specimen," District 9 councillor Brett Olds told Tropic Now. "But it's been under surveillance since before I became a councillor, probably for over 15 years, and it's had a lot of issues."

An official Council announcement was planned for early next week, but locals were made aware of the intent to take the tree down when nearby businesses and residents received notifications about scheduling road closures.

"It's not my call, it's not the mayors call. This is coming from professional arborists that have been monitoring the same tree every 2 or 3 years." 

"People are saying that the tree is coming down because of the development application for the land behind it. That's just not true at all. It's a safety issue."

On a recent scan, it became clear that the melaleuca is beyond saving due to extensive rot and decay on the trunk. The tree has been trimmed and pruned regularly since 2005 to help manage weight load, but with the upcoming risk of cyclones and the heavy rains during wet season, removal was deemed the best next step. 


The massive melaleuca tree, which is on the corner of French Street and the Esplanade, is thought to be hundreds of years old.

Local photographer Ian Stone has been using the tree as a backdrop for wedding photos for nearly 15 years.

"It's the biggest and most iconic tree in Palm Cove. For it to finally be coming to the end of its life is a sad thing, if one can be sad for a tree."

"I'll probably go sit on the bench and have a coffee underneath it this afternoon."

Council plans to replant several melaleuca trees in the same area.

No specific details have been released about when the tree will come down, but because of the rot's aggression and the impending cyclone season, Councillor Olds thinks it will be sometime this February.