50-year-old olive trees to shade food and wine festival

One of the great ironies of the Kennel Club grounds being the venue for Gunnedah’s Italian-style food and wine festival is that there is already a mature stand of olive trees.

In fact, the venue for Annual Porchetta Day is already being called Little Tuscany – describing the shady setting of the Kennel Club in the Northwest corner of the Gunnedah Showgrounds.

Apart from trestle tables among the trees, it is hoped families will bring picnic blankets to enjoy themselves among the lush surrounds.

The Little Tuscany label is even more relevant because of the olive trees -- and the relevance grows when it is considered that Gunnedah is also a district with some award-winning olive oils.

The historic olive trees at the Kennel Club are ornamentals, about five to six metres high.

Organisers were unsure of the origins of the tall olive trees, and, in fact, it wasn’t until after the Kennel Club had been chosen as the venue that the trees were noticed.

But who planted them and how old are they?

Longtime resident and Gunnedah Show vice-president, Brian Henderson said the trees were definitely planted around 1959–1962, making them up to 50 years old. They were part of a number of trees planted near the gates that were a memorial to the past Gunnedah identity, Lawson Muir.

Mr Henderson said the trees were not here when he came to Gunnedah in 1958, when the dog show was an annual event.

He said Lawson Muir was on the committee and used to do “a hell of a lot of work for them.”

“He was a quiet achiever and a lot of people would never have known what he did do,” he said. “But he definitely planted the olive trees.”