Lone Pine descendant cut down, stolen from cemetery

A sapling tracing its roots back to Lone Pine has been stolen from a Malmsbury cemetery, with suspicions it may have been used as a Christmas tree.

Malmsbury Cemetery Trust secretary Mike Stambrey said the pine was among those donated to cemeteries around the state by the Cemeteries & Crematoria Association of Victoria to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015.

The trees’ ancestries could be traced back to seeds sent home by an Anzac digger during World War One.

Mr Stambrey described the theft as “just a stupid thing to have done”.

“I guess there’s really a feeling of disappointment among the volunteer members of the cemetery trust and the members of the public who helped water it – and in some respects, there’s anger,” he said.

Bill Bates and Robert Hooppell placing the pine into place during a dedication ceremony in 2015.

Bill Bates and Robert Hooppell placing the pine into place during a dedication ceremony in 2015.

Mr Stambrey said the trust and members of the public had cared for and nurtured the tree through multiple summers. It had grown to roughly six feet in height when someone sawed it off at the base.

A member of the public noticed it gone just after Christmas. 

The timing of the theft had left trust volunteers suspecting the tree was used as a Christmas decoration.

Mr Stambrey said thankfully another tree with shared Lone Pine ancestry had been sourced and would be planted in the cooler weather of autumn.

Mr Stambrey felt that cemeteries were a soft target for crime. The Malmsbury cemetery’s gates had once been stolen and there had been a number of break-ins at a blue stone building on site.

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