Anger after a tree was vandalised at the White Hills cemetery

Vandalising a century-old tree at the White Hills Remembrance Park shows “blatant disregard for the respect expected of people at cemetery sites”.

That’s the view of Remembrance Parks Central Victoria CEO Graham Fountain following the discovery of at least ten holes on the tree’s trunk before Christmas.

It is thought the towering gum tree had been poisoned.

Mr Fountain said the unknown offender’s actions were clearly deliberate and callous acts.

When staff visited the site on Wednesday they noticed what they believed to be a new hole drilled into the trunk.

The tree would have to be removed to protect against any falling limbs.

“It is extremely unfortunate because it provides coverage to a number of grave sites. People might have selected those plots to be under that tree,” Mr Fountain said.

Mr Fountain said his organisation welcomed and encouraged people visiting the park and people regularly walked through the area with dogs or exercised there.

“But blatant vandalism like this is akin to previous acts where we’ve seen the breaking of gravestones,” he said.

The tree would be one of 45 that would be removed in the coming weeks and months from cemeteries in White Hills, Eaglehawk and Bendigo, though it was the only one thought to have been vandalised.

The decision to remove the trees came after arborist reports found they posed a risk, Mr Fountain said. More trees were being monitored closely.

Trees needed to be removed for a number of reasons, including because they were reaching the end of their natural lives or had been damaged in storms.

Mr Fountain said some, including several peppercorn trees near the front entrance to the White Hills Cemetery, had heritage value and would be replaced.

Remembrance Parks had not made a decision about whether the vandalised tree would be replaced.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police and Remembrance Parks Central Victoria.