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Tree-Loving Ted Notches Thirty Years In Nirvana

By Marcus Braid on March 9, 2015 in News

Photo: Centennial Parklands

Photo: Centennial Parklands

Ted Hoare says Centennial Park is like nirvana. And given that he is celebrating his thirty-year anniversary as the Senior Arborist at Centennial Parklands, Ted has enjoyed a pretty good working life.

“I’ve got a bloody good office – there’s a square mile of it,” Ted said. “I love coming to work and I love it as much as when I first started.”

A graduate of the Ryde TAFE School of Horticulture, Ted has been an active and energetic member of the arboricultural team for three decades and has a weighty responsibility, considering the trees in Centennial Park are valued at more than $170 million.

“There are over 15,000 trees in the park,” Ted said. “Up until quite some time ago, I used to physically do the work, which is the better part, and now I’m still managing it. We’re renewing the [tree] collection, which is really important, so that in 100 years’ time our kids’ kids will enjoy what we’re seeing now.

Routinely seen working in his bright red socks, Ted not only maintains a spectacular and complex tree collection, he has been instrumental in the development of an industry-recognised digital tree database that catalogues and tracks the lifecycle of trees through laptop technology. He has also recently experimented with the use of drone technology to monitor the Parklands’ tree canopies.

“When I first got here, the tree planting was really ad hoc,” Ted said. “There was no rhyme or reason to it; it just went on. But then we got a tree master plan and we did it in five-year plans.

“For the last 20 years, it has been a systematic approach based on the tree master plan about tree selection, the ageing population and a whole lot of criteria. We’ve helped write the book of tree replacement programs here.

“All of that sits on a tree database sporting 19 categories of information on each tree, and it’s considered world class.”

Ted, a Coogee resident, said the key challenges ahead for the Parklands were to maintain public safety and manage the ageing tree population.

“Like you and I, as trees get older they decline and there’s disease, so there’s the day to day preparing and looking after the trees,” he said.

“The other big challenge is looking forward to the next 100 years. We order trees three to six years in advance to bring them in. They’re quite substantial when we bring them in.”

Ted was a Public Service Medal recipient last year for his services to horticulture, and he paid tribute to the staff he works with.

“When I first came here, I thought I’d be here for a while and develop my skills, and then go out and make a million bucks, but then I fell in love with the place,” Ted said.

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a really good team that works with me. They do the physical work and I manage it. I always used to say I had the best job in the world when I was actually out there physically doing the work.”