Remembering the Sugar Pines

The Sugar Pines, captured before the fires, by photographer Robyn MacRae.

This Sunday as dawn slowly breaks through the branches at Pilot Hill Arboretum, the sounds of a mournful cello will reverberate through the Sugar Pines to signal the start of a very special event – Remembering the Sugar Pines. 

Remembering the Sugar Pines offers a space for reflection on past events and an affirmation of the future. One year after the loss of the Sugar Pines to the Dunns Road Fire, Eastern Riverina Arts invites the local community to come together to take part in a quiet and thoughtful remembrance, as part of Arbour Festival.

Over the last few weeks, creative producer Scott Howie has been gathering memories of the Sugar Pine Walk from across the Batlow, Laurel Hill and Tumbarumba communities. These memories have been woven together into a compelling text to be performed by local drama teacher Rebecca Foster.

“I have been really honoured to hear people’s stories – about weddings, their relatives who planted the original trees, secret cubbies, beautiful snowfalls and the way in the Pines grew into the tourist attraction it became. The landscape can hold so many memories and the loss of the landscape sometimes diminishes them. I hope that through this event we can cement the old and make some new memories,” Mr Howie said.  

Local community members will share their own recollections of the iconic Sugar Pine Walk, underscored by an evocative soundscape that will fill the morning air. An emotional highlight will be a reflection by Snowy Valleys resident and Councillor Cor Smit, whose connection to the Sugar Pine Walk runs deep in his family. Councillor Smit likens the Sugar Pine Walk to the forests of his native Netherlands and feels privileged to have lived so close to them. 

Alongside the stories there will also be a performance by a solo piper from Tumbarumba Pipes and Drums performing Amazing Grace. Wagga Wagg- based cellist and composer, Clare Brassil, will also perform. She first visited the Sugar Pines and the region as a young child, as her sister taught at the school in Tumbarumba. Ms Brassil has always wanted to perform at the Sugar Pine Walk, with its beautiful, eery acoustics.

“A lot of people I have spoken to have mentioned lying on the pine needles looking up through the huge trees to the sky. I hope we can capture a little of that magical feeling. It will be a beautiful way to start the day and move forward into 2021,” Mr Howie said.

After the event, tea and coffee will be served and people will have the chance to gather and chat about their experiences.

Further information on Remembering the Sugar Pines is available at the Arbour Festival website. Bookings are essential. Tickets are limited. Due to the reflective nature of the event, it is suitable for ages 10+.