The Orange tree-lined streets of Bingara are a talking point for visitors, provide a well-loved, beautiful outlook and are ingrained part of the town’s culture, but behind the scenes a lot of work goes on to ensure the living Memorial prospers. For the last couple of years that responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Dale Baldock and his team from Parks and Gardens with Gwydir Shire Council.
It’s a big job and an even bigger responsibility to get to the end of each June with over 100 fruiting orange trees in top condition.
Immediately after harvest the trees are given a hard prune, the process takes 3 men about a week. Cuttings are removed and the ground underneath cleared to avoid disease. Fertilising takes place about 3 times per year and each tree is sprayed when necessary, usually around 2-3 times.
“It’s endless work,” said Mr Baldock. “We’re checking them every week.” There are plenty of anxious times throughout the year for Mr Baldock, as nature goes about her way of providing challenging events.
Despite the prolonged drought it is a testament to those looking after the trees on the town’s behalf that no trees were lost as a result. This year’s flooding rains in March provided other challenges with some fruit splitting and dropping after so much water. As with other flowering trees in the landscape, the oranges were also tricked by the weather into flowering again at this time. Some of this unusual fruiting is visible on the trees now.
In addition to weather, this year’s trials also included insects, with mites and beetles tempted by the fruit. The bigger oranges of recent dry seasons have this year been replaced by smaller but more plentiful fruit.
Thanks to the work of Dale’s team, the years toil is the community’s gain, and the trees will once again be ready for Orange Picking Day on June 25th after the annual ceremony takes place in Finch Street.