Cooma youngster excited by Royal visit

Cooma's Kate and Ashley Bartlett. Photo: Graham Tidy

Cooma's Kate and Ashley Bartlett. Photo: Graham Tidy

TREES have feelings (which is why some of us hug them).

And so you wonder what the old, frail Aleppo pine tree in the Australian War Memorial's grounds was thinking on Anzac Day as it watched, nearby, excited crowds watching the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plant its youthful successor.

The old tree was raised from seed collected in 1915 by an Australian soldier at Lone Pine Ridge on Gallipoli.

It was planted where it is today, in 1934.

Today, though a gangling 30 metres tall, (its pre-pubescent successor is 1.5 metres tall) it bears the scars of some radical amputations.

Its upper branches have some prosthetic supports.

Its days are numbered.

History will say that the Duke and Duchess planted the new Aleppo fine but in fact it was nine-tenths planted, three hours before they shimmered up to it, by two sturdy, shirtsleeved men.

And, even though it was only 9am and the royals weren't due till 12.30, the men already had an audience of perhaps 500 souls who had come early to get a good spot.

From very early they had gathered around the edge of the planting site's fenced-off, grassy place, about the size of two tennis courts.

Some of the earliest there were Kate Bartlett of Cooma and her young daughter Ashley.

Ashley was brandishing a bunch of snapdragons she was hoping to give to the Duchess.

''We picked these from our Cooma garden at 6am,'' Kate said.

''I got up at 5am and we left at six, and we got here early because we're very keen and very excited. This is where Kate and William are going to plant the tree so we've picked this prime position. Ashley's got her little tiara [yes, it was true!]. And [pointing to some similarly early-arriving, royals-besotted folk arranged beside them] we've made some friends!''

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