Hibiscus on Marine Drive Tea Gardens replaced with Fig FEATURED Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest by Dave Brazier - July 8, 2015 Great Lakes Council is currently in debate with various residents and business owners in relation to the removal of the Norfolk Island Hibiscus opposite the Hotel on Marine Drive Tea Gardens. The removal is taking place due to a necessary disabled access ramp built to service disabled parking as required by legislation. This tree was earmarked for removal and Council has held off on removal until such time as a replacement tree is sourced through local supplier Jenny Woodward. The replacement tree will be of a much more user friendly variety ficus rubiginosa (Port Jackson Figs) Better known as the “Cow Itch’ tree, it’s planting is restricted by councils Australia wide due to the irritant nature of the silica like fibres contained in the seed pods. Being a public area and the tree being accessible to children to climb it may be sensible that this particular tree be replaced some would say. Myall Coast News have spoken to about ten long term residents over the last week and it would seem that some see the tree as a fixture because it has been there for some time and has nice flowers. Another argued that the ramp only has to move a metre or so and the tree can stay. A majority of people I spoke to responded along the lines of: “Don’t you know what it is? It’s a fibreglass tree they shed fibres that blow in the wind and get into everything.” “I fell asleep under the damn thing a couple of years ago; Itched for bloody days and the fibry things went all through my clothes. I know why they call it a ‘cow itch tree’ now.” Great Lakes Council and Marine Drive Reference Group representatives have been in lengthy discussions in relation to this particular tree. Consultation, public safety and the long term outcome that will benefit all, are the main focus points.