Gum trees are dangerous. No they don’t wander around in marauding groups, capturing people They have the unnerving capacity to drop branches almost on a whim.
I remember the first time I had heard how several members of a school group, had lost their lives, camping under a tree. I was both deeply saddened and surprised. The risk from camping under gum trees is still very real. I mean not for me. (I hate camping gum trees or no gum trees.) It is not my idea of a break at all.
I recall walking to pick the children up from school one day. There was a woman just in front of me managing a small child and a pram etc. It was just a normal day. The weather had been unremarkable. Suddenly there had been a crash and a branch had fallen, missing the woman with the pram and her child by inches. A few seconds previously we had had no idea we were staring death and possible serious injury in the face. We had been oblivious that we were facing any peril. We had just been wandering along thinking of what we were going to cook for tea (at least I was), Fortunately everybody had escaped unharmed.
Eucalypts have a habit of dropping entire branches off as they grow. Eucalyptus forests are littered with dead branches. The Australian Ghost Gum Eucalyptus papuana is sometimes called the “widow maker”, due to the high number of tree-felling workers who were killed by falling branches. Many deaths were actually caused by simply camping under them, as the trees shed whole and very large branches to save water during droughts. For this reason, you should never camp under large eucalyptus branches.
The children’s paddling pool had been situated down the shady end of the garden, where a few beautiful branches from a neighbour’s trees had provided welcome shade. I was horrified when we had awoken one morning to find a huge tree limb in the garden. This is just a fact of life. We know we cannot get rid of every gum tree nor does anybody really want to. You just have to take sensible precautions. You get your trees inspected regularly. You remove branches which pose potential dangers to your family or others and you pray that a family member will not camp under a dodgy gum tree somewhere. When you know you have to live with a particular threat or danger, you take sensible precautions. I mean you might love gum trees and I do (The smell of eucalyptus after a rainstorm is part of the magic of Australia for me) but you treat them with respect and take sensible precautions to ensure people do not lose their lives because you have neglected to take all reasonable safety measures. (This might mean accepting perhaps there might simply be too many in the wrong place
or that they are not being managed safely.) No you cannot stop every incident but you can minimise the risks.
If you think this might not entirely be about gum trees, you could be right,