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Bert Hinkler Tree : June 2003
Bert Hinkler Tree : June 2003

Photographs supplied by John Huth

A tree planted in school grounds in 1934 commemorates aviator Bert Hinkler who was born in Bundaberg.

Herbert ‘Bert’ John Louis Hinkler AFC DSM (1892–1933) was born in Bundaberg and was educated at North Bundaberg State School (1898–1906). After leaving school he found work with a photographer in Gympie, and worked in sugar mills and a foundry in Bundaberg. He had a strong interested in aviation having joined the Queensland Aero Club in 1910. He undertook a correspondence course in mechanics in 1911 and built two gliders in 1911–12. This strong interest in aviation saw him move to England in late 1913. Here he worked in the Sopwith aircraft factory. He enlisted with the Royal Naval Air Service in September 1914. In the RNAS he served as an observer/gunner, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, promoted to warrant officer and was recommended for training as a pilot. On completion of his pilot’s training in 1918 he was promoted to flight lieutenant with No. 28 Squadron Royal Air Force and stationed in Italy. He left the air force in 1919 and worked for the aircraft company .V. Roe & Co in England.

Throughout his employment in England he worked in aviation development being responsible for numerous significant inventions, with the RNAS, and with the Sopwith and AV Roe companies. His first meritorious flight was in May 1920 when he flew from London to Turin non-stop in a 35 hp Avro Baby and returned to London. He shipped the Avro Baby to Australia and in April 1921 he set a long distance record-breaking flight from Sydney to Bundaberg. He returned to England and was a test pilot for AV Roe and Company until 1926.

His most famous solo flight was from England to Australia in February 1928 in a record-breaking 15 days. He died in January 1933 when attempting to break the flying record from England to Australia of eight days twenty hours. He plane the Puss Moth crashed in the Tuscan Mountains, Italy and his body was found on 7 January. He was buried in Florence, Italy with full honours by the Italians.

2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the planting of the Hinkler Trees in Queensland State Schools. The idea of honouring Bert Hinkler in this way was instigated by Mr. Percy Field from Canley Vale, New South Wales who suggested that every school yard in Australia should contain a tree to commemorate the great Australian airman, Mr. Bert Hinkler.

In late 1933 the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) asked all schools to plant trees to honour the memory of Bert Hinkler. The Queensland Department of Education took up the suggestion and the Director of Education Mr. B.J. McKenna in 1934 asked all schools that celebrated Arbor Day to plant a tree to be known as the ‘Hinkler Tree’. From a search of newspaper articles most of the Hinkler Trees were planted in 1934. Planting continued to at least 1937 with some schools planting more than one Hinkler Tree.

The Courier Mail 31 January 1934 reports:

On next Arbor Day the children of the State Schools of Queensland will be asked to plant in the school grounds a special tree in honour of the late Squadron-Leader Bert Hinkler. The tree will be known as the Hinkler Tree.

The Longreach Reader in 1934 records the planting of the Bert Hinkler Tree on Arbor Day at the Winton State School:

Arbor Day was celebrated at the Winton State. School. On Friday last several gum trees were planted in furtherance of a scheme for shade avenues. The trees planted last year have made great progress and will be a decided acquisition to scholars in the years to come. Mr. S. Smith addressed the scholars on the career of Bert Hinkler, and Mr. F. McNamara planted a Hinkler Memorial Tree in honour of Queensland's intrepid airman.

In addition to the Hinkler Tree, trees were also planted on Arbor Day in memory of local personalities. The Courier Mail in July 1937 reports on the Arbor Day activities at the Southport State School:

The Mayor addressed the children, and the three South African tulip trees, planted last year in memory of two distinguished Australian aviators—the late Flight-Lieutenant Bert Hinkler and the late Mr. C. J. Melrose—and in honour of Southport’s Mayor (Alderman Proud), were inspected by the visitors.

It is unknown exactly how many trees were planted. Unfortunately there are no official files on the planting of the Hinkler Tree nor are there any records of the species that were planted. A search of old newspaper articles reveals that some schools that planted a Hinkler Tree (and species of tree planted) were: Aramac, Bald Knob, Black Mountain, Blenheim, Calvert (weeping fig), Cooroy, Crowley Vale, Dingo, Fernvale (silky oak), Frenchville (pine tree), Glenore Grove, Gilston, Grantham (Queensland nut), Hatton Vale, Ingleside, Jimna, Kenilworth, Labrador (camphor laurel), Laidley, Mackay, Mooloolah (weeping fig), Milbong (peppereina), Murrumba (a cypress pine planted by the head teacher and a red gum planted by the children), Nerang, Plainland (silky oak), Rosewood, Rossmoya (jacaranda), Southport (cypress pine), Tallegalla (Moreton Bay fig). Wowan, Yadina and Villeneue. Many schools in New South Wales and Victoria also planted a Hinkler Tree.

Some of these trees remain. There is a bottle tree at the Monto State School and a spotted gum at the site of the site of the old Coulson State School. At this school a pupil, Aldoph Lewald planted the Hinkler Tree, a lemon–scented spotted gum, on Arbor Day 1936. This tree was later stuck by lightning and sixty years later in 1996 a much older Aldoph Lewald planted a spotted gum to replace the original tree.

Bert Hinkler also planted trees throughout eastern Australia. Like the Hinkler Tree the identity of most of these have now been lost. In 1921 Bert was asked to plant five trees at Bargarra. Today only a candle nut tree remains at the site of the old Bargara State School. In the intervening years this tree became ’lost’ due to the changing of the local road alignments and the moving of the school to another site. However, in 2012 it was ‘located’ on Seaview Road Bargara. In1928 Bert visited a number of cities throughout Australia. On occasions, usually in association with the RSL or CWA he would plant memorial trees in honour of those who died in World War One. Today two of these trees remain, one at Dandenong, Victoria and one at on Adelaide.

Bert Hinkler’s name is commemorated by a number parks and streets in Queensland especially in the Bundaberg district. At Wilston, Brisbane, Hinkler Park in Sylvester Street (near the site of the aero club that Bert Hinkler regularly visited on Eildon Hill) is named in his honour. There is also Bert Hinkler Drive at the Brisbane airport.
(Article by John Huth)




Address:3 Leichhardt Street, Monto State School, Monto, 4630
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -24.867879
Long: 151.118203
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Tree
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 5th October, 1934
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Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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