Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Dalene Mathee Big Tree (Knysna)

In 2008 the magnificent 800 year old Outeniqua yellowwood (podocarpus falcatus) formerly known as the ‘Big Tree’ in the Wilderness National Park near Knysna, was renamed  the ‘Dalene Mathee Big Tree’ in memory of one of South Africa’s most famous authors.

All of Dalene’s books namely ‘Circles in the Forest’, ‘Fiela’s Child’, ‘The Mulberry Forest’ and ‘Dream Forest’ are set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where the woodcutters of the Knysna forest at that time, are the central characters.

After Dalene’s death in 2005 it was her family’s wish to erect a memorial to their mother at ‘Krisjan se nek’ in the forest. This was one of Dalene’s favourite spots, and when she needed inspiration while writing her books, she would often spend long hours there.

Dalene’s daughter, Hillary Mathee said that her mother’s last wish was to have her ashes scattered in the Knysna forest that she loved so much.

When the family approached Sanparks with regard to the memorial, they embraced the idea, as conserving the country’s heritage is their main function.

Subsequently, Dalene’s memorial now stands alongside the magnificent Podocarpus falcatus and a boardwalk has been built to allow visitors easy access to the memorial and the tree. The old woodcutters hiking trail that starts at ‘Krisjan se nek’ has been renamed ‘Circles in the Forest Trail’ after her most famous book.

Jill Gordon the park manager, says that Sanparks regard it a great honour to house Dalene’s memorial and to be part of the conservation of one of our country’s great legends

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