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image description

Level of Significance

  • File
  • Local
  • Regional
  • State
  • National

Age (approx)

80yrs

Trees

1

Diameter

0.3m

Height - 20m

Details

Common name
Port Jackson fig
Botanical name
Ficus rubiginosa
Type
Individual Tree
Condition
Good
Municipality
Melbourne (VIC)
Location
Building 11, RMIT Melbourne VIC 3000
Access
Unrestricted
Significances
  • Unusual (Aesthetic)
Date of measurement
14 Nov 2014
Date of classification
25 May 2016

Statement of Significance

This tree is significant at a Regional level for its unusual form. It is the only example known in Melbourne of a fig growing atop a wall with aerial roots anchoring it in place.

History

The Gaol was decommissioned in 1929, but it did reopen briefly during the Second World War as a military prison for Australian soldiers who were Absent Without Leave (AWOL). Later, the complex was used as a storage depot for the Victorian Police force.
Finally, in 1972 the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) began management of the Old Melbourne Gaol as a tourist attraction.

It is not possible to see the tree on a 1945 aerial image of Melbourne, but the plaque (from 1997) next to the tree states that it is between 50 - 70 years old. The tree is visible as a mature specimen in photos taken in 1987.

Location

It is growing on the stone wall of the old Melbourne Gaol, behind the old chapel building.

Excerpts from a report by Peter Elliot Architecture & Urban Design for RMIT University in August 2014:
"The Fig Tree Courtyard is a remnant of the Old Melbourne Gaol and is enclosed by bluestone walls of which the west wall is straddled by a magnificent Port Jackson fig tree. It is a heavily shaded space as a result of its enclosed nature and the large evergreen fig tree canopy overhead. It is a place for quiet retreat and small social gatherings."
"Historically this was part of a larger yard modified in the 1930s with the demolition of the western half of the Old Melbourne Gaol and its incorporation in to RMIT."