Lone Pine pens put history in your hand

FROM his small Warrnambool workshop Louis Seater is carving a unique link with a solitary tree that stood on a Gallipoli battlefield in World War I.

Pruned timber from a tree grown from a seed taken from the famed Lone Pine by an Aussie Digger is being transformed into beautiful pens destined to become collectors’ items.

The idea came from Friends of the Warrnambool Botanical Gardens members, who thought it would be a fitting way to mark the upcoming centenary of the bloody 1915 battle.

One of four trees grown from seeds in a pinecone brought back to Australia by Sergeant Keith McDowell and propagated by his wife’s aunt at Grassmere is growing in the botanical gardens.

The Warrnambool tree is regarded as the best of them.

Offcuts from dead wood taken off the tree by an arborist earlier this year were stored and a branch taken to Mr Seaton, a retired police officer who has years of experience carving pens and other intricate pieces from timber. He has cut enough blanks to make 40 pens and there are hopes to retrieve more usable offcuts from the prunings.

“There will be a very limited number of these special keepsakes,” said Friends president Pat Varley.

“We’ll sell them at $40 each with Warrnambool stamped on the bar and an authentic information sheet about the Lone Pine included in the gift box.”

Friends secretary Mandy King said there were plans to collect seeds from the Warrnambool tree and propagate more seedlings.

“It’s very significant that this tree is from a seed that came directly from Gallipoli,” she said.

The other three original Grassmere seedlings were planted at The Sisters memorial Hall, Wattle Park and the Shrine of Remembrance.

Glenn Inness in the ACT and the Canberra War Memorial also have pines from seeds documented to have been brought back by Diggers from Gallipoli.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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