National Trust ( Vic ) Gallipoli Oaks Project

National Trust ( Vic ) Gallipoli Oaks Project.


The Vision:

An exciting new project:

As part of its commitment to celebrate and preserve our environmental heritage, the National Trust of Australia (Vic), has identified the Gallipoli oak tree (Quercus coccifera subsp. Calliprinos) as a symbolic link between the Centenary of the ANZAC Landings ( 2015 ), the people of Turkey and the primary school children of Victoria.

To bring this link to life the Trust plans to propagate up to 2000 juvenile Gallipoli oaks to be planted in Victorian primary school grounds during remembrance ceremonies in the period 2015 to 2018.

An advisory committee has been appointed to bring this project to fruition.

Chairman and Committee Members:

Mr Peter Whitelaw, Ex Australian Army Officer, founder and Life Member of the Officer Training Unit Association and Life Governor (previously Trustee) of the Shrine of Remembrance (Melbourne) has been appointed Chair of the advisory committee for this project.

Other Committee members:

Dominic Romeo- Director, National Trust Victoria, Paul Roser- Senior Manager Advocacy and Conservation, National Trust Victoria, John Fordham- Chair, Friends of Burnley Gardens, Richard Smith- Executive Officer, History Teachers Association of Victoria, Peter Smith OAM- Appeals Director, RSL Victorian Branch, Mackenzie Gregory- Vice President Military History Heritage Victoria. .


This project will include interpretive material that will communicate the story of the Gallipoli oaks during World War One, the process of propagation, and convey our enduring relationship with the Turkish people.

The History:

The Gallipoli Campaign of World War One took place between the 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916 on the Gallipoli Peninsula, in modern south-west Turkey.The campaign was the first major battle undertaken in the war by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ( from which the word ANZAC was coined.) In Turkey the battle is also perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people.

Small prickly oak trees (now known as the Gallipoli Oak) grow along the ridges and valleys of the peninsula. Acorns were collected by several soldiers during the campaign and sent or brought back to Australia where some were subsequently planted.

General (Sir) John Monash wrote to his wife in November 1915:

"I am sending in a separate packet, a few acorns. I have made the discovery that the prickly scrub, with which these hills are covered, and which has inflicted many an unkind scratch on hands, arms and bare knees, is really a species of holly, and bears an acorn, showing that it belongs to the Oak variety. The bush is quite ornate and grows to a height of about 5 feet, much like the ordinary holly with the red berry."

Captain William Lampriere Winter-Cooke also collected acorns and planted them in 1916 in Victoria at the family property ‘Murndal’ near Hamilton in western Victoria. Several off-spring have been planted from this tree including those at public locations and also on private properties. There are likely to be many trees from these sources growing across Victoria.

The Trees

Quercus calliprinos is a small to medium-sized tree or large shrub seldom reaching more than 5 metres tall. It is evergreen, with spiny-serrated leaves 3 to 5 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm broad. The acorns are 2 - 3 cm long when mature about 18 months after pollination.

The International Oak Society Oak Register, the scientific body that classifies the genus Quercus, does not recognise Quercus calliprinos as a separate species. The accepted botanical name is Quercus coccifera subsp. Calliprinos.

As Quercus coccifera is clearly a closely related species the Trust has, for the purpose of this project, broadened the definition of Gallipoli Oak to include Quercus coccifera and Quercus coccifera subsp. Calliprinos.

Photo: Mature Gallipoli Oak, planted in Western Victoria. From an acorn in 1916

The trees will be propagated from acorns donated and collected from parent trees located in Australia and grown to a size suitable for planting by horticulture experts including tree growers.

Three trials of acorn germination of the two species (Quercus Coccifera subsp Calliprinos and Quercus Coccifera) have resulted in propagation of seedlings with greater than 50% success rate.

The priority is to identify and seek access to acorns from source trees when they are suitably ripe for collection and propagation. Trees in several locations have been inspected. Permission has also been obtained to harvest acorns from several of the trees on public land. Other suitable trees are being sought.  

Planting the Trees

The trees ready for planting will become progressively available between 2015 and 2018 and suitable dates including ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day will be identified for ceremonial planting. Partnerships between primary schools and RSL sub-branches will be encouraged to plan the planting ceremonies. Where possible, trees will be transported to the RSL sub-branches for distribution in their area.

Plaques and interpretive materials will be provided for each ceremony. Prior publicity of the planting events in local and regional press will ensure strong community participation. Detailed instructions on the care of the juvenile trees will also be provided to schools. Replacement trees will be available in the event of accidental damage, or the original oak dying.


This project is designed to align with the new Australian Curriculum for primary schools: Year 3 – Community and Remembrance; Year 6 – Australia as a Nation. The interpretive material will communicate the story of the Gallipoli oaks during World War 1, the process of propagation and express our enduring relationship with the Turkish people.


Arboriculture Australia

Friends of Burnley Gardens

Friends of Gallipoli Inc

Geelong Grammar School

Melbourne University – Burnley Horticultural College

Merewether Dunkeld

Military History Heritage Victoria

Nationwide Trees

Nursery & Garden Industry Australia and Victoria

Royal Botanic Gardens

RSL - Victorian Branch

Shrine of Remembrance

The family of General Sir John Monash

Treenet – University of Adelaide


Extending this project:

Currently the project is confined to Victorian Primary Schools but it is anticipated that in due course it will extent nationally.


Registration applications for trees, further information on Gallipoli Oaks in Australia, sponsor an oak tree, or make a donation to the project should be directed to:

Peter Whitelaw – Chair, Gallipoli Oaks Project for the National Trust (Victoria)

email: phone: 0411 107 039




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