The ‘Duke’ is one of Canberra’s most famous trees. You have probably sat next to it many times at the traffic lights on the corner of Kings Avenue and State Circle in Barton.
This magnificent Quercus robur (English Oak) was planted by the Duke of York (who later became King George VI) when he and his wife visited Canberra in 1927 to open Parliament House.
The tree was planted on 10 May 1927 as part of three tree planting ceremonies. The Duke planted the English Oak along with an Australian native pine, Araucaria bidwillii.
That day, the Duke also planted an Atlas Cedar at Government House, Yarralumla. The Duchess planted a Salix alba caerulea (Cricket Bat Willow) and Eucalypt at a location that is now Forest Primary School.
The choice of tree species signifies the relationship between Australia and Britain. The English tree species, including the ‘Duke’, were donated by the Royal Botanical Gardens in London especially for the Duke’s visit. The natives that complement the English trees were supplied by the Yarralumla Nursery which still exists today!
In 1928, the area where the Duke planted the English Oak was renamed York Park. Next time you’re in the area or at the traffic lights take the time to view this historical part of the nation’s capital.
Trivial note: You may be familiar with the Duke of York through the Academy award winning film The King’s Speech.