One of the greatest
attractions for children is situated in the Fitzroy Gardens - Ola Cohn's
Fairies Tree, comprising a series of lovely carvings on the stump of one
of the original Red Gum trees in the Fitzroy Gardens, well over 300
years in age.
From 1931 to May 1934 - Victoria's Centenary Year -
Miss Cohn worked on the delightful likenesses of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, a
marvelous jackass, koalas, flying foxes and a host of typical Australian animals
and birds. She used all the natural irregularities and curves to transform the
tree trunk into a thing of beauty.
Her intentions are best described in the foreword to
her book, "The Fairies Tree", inscribed on the tree's plaque :
"I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy
Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who
believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy
sanctuary - a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living
The carvings were done years after the death of the
tree and so the problem of the trunk's preservation presented a problem. In
1977, the trunk was extracted from the ground for chemical treatment and the
removal of rotted wood, and during the process, a mummified brush tail possum
over 40 years old was found perfectly preserved within the trunk. The tree was
remounted on a concrete base to prolong its life.
Ola Cohn wrote and published four books.
The Fairies' Tree (1932)
More about the Fairies' Tree (1933)
Castles in the Air (1936)
Mostly Cats (1964)