Hand-written poem that was posted on the Poetry Tree in Strathewen shortly after the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009.

Strathewen is a small community on the northeast outskirts of Melbourne. On 7th February 2009, it was directly in the path of the Kilmore East bushfire; 27 people were killed and 80% of the homes were destroyed. On 22nd February, the day of the official memorial service for bushfire victims, Rosemary McKimmie Young and Ian McKimmie posted two poems on the burned stump of a manna gum near the entrance to Strathewen. Barbara Joyce added this poem on 1st March. People added more poems and photos of people lost in the fires, and the tree became known as the 'Poetry Tree'. Many people considered it Strathewen's informal memorial. As time progressed, contributions reflected the community's effort to rebuild and recover.

Strathewen's permanent memorial to Black Saturday opened in September 2012. Several months later Barbara removed this poem from the tree and donated it to the museum, saying 'It had done its job, and it was time.' The museum had documented the tree on several occasions between 2010 and 2013, but this was the first artefact from the Poetry Tree to enter the museum's collection.

Physical Description

White heavy stock paper, stained and water-damaged. On the front is a hand-written poem of seven stanzas in black ink. The back is blank but discoloured by exposure to the elements.


The Poetry Tree, on which this poem was posted, was a spontaneous memorial that began in the wake of the devastating bushfires of Black Saturday. It was both an emotional and creative response to the loss of life and property and reflects the thoughts and feelings of some of Strathewen's residents in the weeks immediately following the fires. This poem is significant because it documents the author's attempts to describe and come to terms with what had happened in her community. It is an immediate and evocative connection to the emotions of bushfire survivors in the aftermath of Black Saturday.

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