Highway history to be preserved for future generations

18 February 2021

The stump of a large Mountain Ash reputed to have been inscribed more than 200 years ago with the names of three of Australia's earliest European explorers is getting set for a new life.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Explorers Tree, on the side of the Great Western Highway outside Katoomba, has been assessed as a safety hazard to passing motorists and will be temporarily removed and stored while a new plan to commemorate the tree is developed.

"We are very aware of the significance of the Explorers Tree as a site commemorating exploration of the Blue Mountains and the forging of a route over the mountains to the west," Mr Toole said.

"However, this piece of Australia's modern history has significantly deteriorated in recent years due to its age and has been identified as a crash risk.

"Very little remains of the actual tree, which died and was filled with concrete decades ago. However, the site remains one of historical significance and we want to ensure it is not lost."

Transport for NSW will work with Blue Mountains City Council to engage heritage specialists to remove and preserve the tree, plaque and the stone features used to support the tree while the community is engaged about the best way to reinterpret the tree.

These items will be stored safely while we work closely with Council, heritage groups and the community to determine the best way in which to reinterpret and commemorate the tree."

The Explorers Tree will be included in Transport for NSW's Cultural Interpretation Strategy for the Great Western Highway upgrade, which will identify opportunities for interpretation and homage of both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stories and heritage of the Blue Mountains.

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