The Bikini Tree at Belford

It appears we Aussies have a fixation with trees that resemble the human form.

It reminded me of the ‘bikini tree’ at Belford that was world-renowned, still features in Wikipedia, and lives on in many childhood memories as the I Spy moment on a boring stretch of road that was the New England Highway from Newcastle at Belford near
Singleton. It has been featured in many publications.
From a distance the misshapen tree trunk looked like a voluptuous woman, with the addition of a brightly painted bikini!
Over the years as fashions changed, so did the bikini. ABC’s Anthony Scully in a story for Ñow and Then, series credited the local farmer with these upgrades, but the locals had fun dressing the bikini tree from time to time. My favourite was the fluoro
pink and white spotted halter neck ensemble (cue for a song?) donated by the local surveyors working on the property in the late
1970’s.
What few knew was that the bikini tree held a secret. She was the signal for the turn-off to the very discreet nudist camp where members could hang loose and breathe free braving the mozzies among the trees. But you never spotted them from the main road!
The landowners had plans to develop the land into a bona fide naturists retreat and to that end held an open day to which I, as the local Ace Roving Reporter, was invited. It was to be a family day, so my then-husband very kindly volunteered to drive
me and our two very young boys to cover the event. The boys would have loved running through the bush in the nuddy but we were assured the members would not be disrobing till 4pm. Up till that time the rather middle-aged and nice and ordinary- looking folks
were wearing shorts and tee-shirts emblazoned ‘Dare to go bare’.
After a pleasant visit we left promptly at five minutes to disrobing time. This wasnt Sweden.
Sadly, the Singleton Shire Council declined the development application, if I remember rightly, and later thenew road veered away cutting off that bend in the road, which is why the tree is no longer seen.
Time has taken its toll on the bikini tree, and she is old worn and neglected. She appears to have lost weight and has let herself go. Back to nature, so she is in the right place.

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