Barrington Gum

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The giant gum and Kingsland Forest Park in Richmond

The Barrington Gum was named after a farm which was once located further down the Reservoir Creek valley from about 1850 to 1914.

The Eucalyptus or Gum species of Australia number over 500 different varieties and this is the tallest of them all, known for fast tail growth. It is a Eucalyptus Regnans (Mountain Ash), a native of Victoria and Eastern Tasmania, which is the tallest non-conifer in the world, reaching heights of nearly 100 metres (over 300 feet). This specimen was measured in 2009 by Richmond arborist Brad Cadwallader and climber Menno Kluiters. The height was 72.1 metres and the diameter 1.4 metres at 2.35 metres above ground. The first branch is 30 metres above ground. This made it the second-tallest measured tree in New Zealand behind an 80 metre Mountain Ash in the Orokonui Eco-sanctuary near Dunedin. Brad says “that the big gums in the Waimea College bus bay are only about 26 metres high, so that puts it into perspective.” Data can be found online at www.notabletrees.org.nz  in “The New Zealand Tree Register” Ref. TSR/0687.

Barrington gum looking up from base

Barrington gum looking up from base. Photo by Lindsay Vaughan

Very little is known of its history or age. It was probably planted as a seedling sometime between 1860 and 1920, so it is 100 to 150 years old. The timber is valued for structures and

interior finishing but it is not fully weather and ground durable. It is sold as “Tasmanian Oak” with other similar species.

When it was planted, the Barrington Gum was probably with a few other farm trees on the steep rough sheep pasture hillside that had been burnt off, leaving native forest only in the bottom of the gully. In 1926 Richmond Borough Council owned this upper Reservoir Creek land and more was added over the years to the south between the lines of Queen Street and Hart Road, approximately 1.5 km, and approximately 1.5 km from the foothills to the summit.  The land was mainly farmed with sheep producing coarse wool, with the north facing frost-free patches growing early potatoes. When this became uneconomic the first pine forests were planted.

Barrington Gum showing full length. Photo by Lindsay Vaughan

Barrington Gum showing full length. Photo by Lindsay Vaughan

Gradually plantation blocks of Pinus Radiata trees were planted in the 1960s-1970s, to give Tasman District Council timber and income, as they are harvested and replanted every 25 years or so. The town also gained a green backdrop above the lower reserve land that is named Dellside after the Griffin family farm that included the Barrington farm from 1919.

Harry Kingsland

Kingsland was chosen by Tasman District Council as the name for the whole plantation area in recognition of the pioneering work done by Harry Kingsland and his son Tom over many years with the Radiata pine industry. Harry had a milk run in Richmond and learned about these successful trees from Mr G. N. Hunt in the 88 Valley area near Wakefield soon after 1900. He was active in collecting cones from good trees, extracting the seed and raising seedlings.

In 1907 he bought a section on the corner of Appleby Highway and Blackbyre Road, where he lived and built a pioneering coolstore in 1915 to store apples through the winter. Becoming involved in the newly developing apple orchards he realised the need for timber for apple boxes as local native timber was running out. Moturoa /Rabbit Island and Rough Island was unused and he convinced authorities to start planting. In 1920 Harry was contracted to supply trees and labour to plant the first blocks there and one of the roads on Rough Island is named Kingsland.

By 1922, with a group of businessmen, Harry organised a large plantation between Belgrove and 88 Valley on the Rutherford’s farm “Kainui” which became the start of Nelson Pine Forests Ltd. He must have given many people employment over the years. Using the brand name “Kainui” Harry and Tom supplied seed and seedlings throughout the Nelson region in very large numbers. From 1946 to 1980 Tom sold seed all over New Zealand and numerous countries overseas. They inspected local superior Radiata trees, had their cones collected and dried them in their own specially built kilns to extract the best quality seed.

To get to this giant tree follow the path from Easby Park to the site of the old Reservoir. From the Barrington Gum Information Board follow the track for a few metres, then take the steep left fork to “Cavers Track”.  About another 100 metres up take the right fork at the sign.

This information was researched by David Burt (Keep Richmond Beautiful) for the Tasman District Council, 2016.

Kingsland Forest was increasingly being used for recreation, including walking, dog walking and mountain biking. The Tasman District Council and volunteer groups were also working to restore pockets of native trees in gullies and other areas of the forest. In 2019 the Council conducted a survey asking local people and organisations how they used the forest and what they wanted in the future, and in 2020 the decision was made to retire the forest from commercial forestry and have it as a recreation and scenic area instead. In the next twenty or so years the pine trees that currently make up the forest will be harvested, and the forest land will slowly be replanted with a mixture of native trees and permanent exotic trees, and the recreation tracks improved.

In 2021 Kingsland Forest was renamed Kingsland Forest Park to signify the change from a commercial forest to a recreation area.

Updated, September 10, 2021.

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