The story of the Giant Boab 'Gija Jumulu' captured world-wide media coverage during July 2008 as it journeyed over 3,200 kilometres, from Warmun in WA's Kimberley region, to Kings Park in Perth.
Never before had a mature tree of this nature been transported across such a distance on land. The iconic tree, estimated to be 750 years old, weighs 36 tonnes and stretches 14 metres high and eight metres wide (branch span). Its trunk measures 2.5 metres in diameter.
Project Coordinator, Patrick Courtney said when the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority learned the tree needed to be relocated due to works on the Great Northern Highway, it jumped at the chance to secure it.
'We had a call asking us how to move the boab, and we offered to find it a new home at Kings Park - 3,200 kilometres south! They said yes.'
Now known as 'Gija Jumulu', the tree is a special gift to all Western Australians from the local Indigenous people, the Gija, who are the traditional land owners. They performed a farewell ceremony to the Jumulu (boab in Gija language) on Monday, 14 July 2008.
'It's a real coup for Kings Park to have such a magnificent tree, particularly with its strong cultural and historical value. Mature trees rarely become available, so this will greatly enhance the 3,000 native species already on show for the Australian public.'
The tree also complements the 14 other small boabs that have been previously transplanted in Kings Park, in Roe Garden and opposite Forrest Carpark; the oldest of which has been there for a decade. Boabs (Adansonia gregorii) are deciduous trees that are highly valued by Indigenous people for their edible fruits, medicinal uses and water-holding properties.
From Monday, 14 July, the tree travelled along the Great Northern and Brand Highways, passing through numerous regional centres, including Fitzroy Crossing, Port Hedland, Meekatharra, Cue, Eneabba and Muchea, before arriving in Perth's outer suburbs. Along the way, almost entire towns came out to see Gija Julumu and people honked horns and waved the whole way down. The boab arrived at its new home in the heart of Kings Park on Saturday, 19 July.
'It was to be an epic journey, requiring a 25 metre truck trailer, two traffic lanes and police escorts. It was quite a sight to see, particularly as it made its way through Perth,' said Mr Courtney.
The cost of the tree's travel would normally be about $120,000, were it not for a number of local companies and Government agencies who donated their time and resources, mainly free of charge. To return the favour, once the tree was ‘settled in', Kings Park staff collected its seeds with the aim to grow about 200 boabs to return to the Kimberley.
The giant boab was officially planted on Sunday, 20 July 2008 in the Two Rivers Lookout, at the end of Forrest Carpark in front of a crowd of over 3,000 people. The crowd was addressed by the Minister for the Environment; Climate Change and Peel, the Hon. David Templeman who acknowledged all involved. A smoking ceremony was performed by the local Nyoongar community to welcome the tree and mark the special occasion.
The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority acknowledges and sincerely thanks the following companies and groups for their generous support throughout this project; Main Roads, BGC Contracting, Laing O'Rourke Australia, Maunsell Australia, Team Savannah, BOOM Logistics, Western Australian Police, Arbor Centre, OZWEST Pty Ltd, Western Power, Thiess Services, Horizon Power, Town of Cambridge, City of Subiaco and the Nyoongar and Gija communities.
A brochure entitled, 'The story of the Boab Tree - a gift from the Gija people in the Kimberley, Western Australia' is available from the brochures section.