Under Lucky Milkwood
There is an usual relationship between the above large Milkwood tree in the Darwin CBD and agronomist Rob Wesley-Smith , shown affectionately patting the tree . Both went through the cyclone together and Wesley-Smith was responsible for the tree being Heritage listed to prevent it being chopped down when the city rebuilt, expanded. A few days ago, Wesley-Smith parked his car in the street near the tree and ate a meat pie , memories of the terrible night -Christmas Eve 1974-flooding back.
Living in one of four units on the block, outside which was the tree , he spent the night, after the roof was blown off , sitting on the floor next to the refrigerator as the cyclonic winds tore the city apart.Through the louvres he could see the tree being stripped of all leaves, branches breaking . Piles of paper and books were blown out when a door blew open .
Emerging in the early morning to a scene of total devastation , the nearby Chinese temple flattened , he noticed that a sheet of corrugated iron was imbedded in the trunk .
With a camera, Wesley-Smith made his way up to Smith Street , the main business centre , and saw cars overturned , tangled wreckage, power lines down .Making his way down the street to the Anglican Christ Church , he saw that it was badly damaged – “gone”.
The distressed Bishop of Darwin, Ken Mason, surveying the wreckage.
Looking over the harbour , Wesley-Smith said there was much low level grey cloud about and nothing much could be seen. His photographs ended up in the NT archives .
Treading on a piece of glass with his heel , he made his way to the Darwin Hospital where there were a lot of injured people. He told a doctor that he obviously had a lot to cope with , but could he just have a look at his foot.
The doctor said several stitches were needed and proceeded to go into action. Without anaesthetic, pushing the needle through the leathery heel was so painful after the first stitch , he chickened out , said thanks, hopped up and limped off to make way for more seriously injured to receive attention.
Subsequently, Wes was informed that a workmate who three days before Cyclone Tracy had said he was not going to die soon was killed by flying iron, his wife scalped.
WES SAT HERE : An archaeological dig site in modern Darwin.
Little Darwin was recently taken by Wesley-Smith to see the tree with its heritage tag. It is now on a block being used by builders finishing a 26 storey hotel across the road in Wood Street. In pirate stories there is an X which marks the spot where treasure is buried. On this trip he was able to show us the remains of the toilet pipe in his unit that terrible night , which is visible on the old slab. He is worried by the fig tree which has grown up next to and could strangle the Milkwood . He will raise the matter with authorities to further protect "his" tree . Wood Street resident Melanie Goehr has been campaigning to have the block on which the Milkwood stands made into a park for the many children in surrounding high rises .