Tasmanian town marks transformation with tree planting

A Tasmanian town that was once dubbed “Australia’s most homophobic town” has marked its transformation into a community that embraces equality.

The North West Tasmanian town of Ulverstone hosted a special ceremony on Sunday celebrating how far the town has come towards being more LGBTI-inclusive and respectful.

In front of an audience of about 150 people, Central Coast mayor, Jan Bonde, planted a tree and unveiled a plaque at the annual “Out in the Park” LGBTI Tas Pride event in Ulverstone.

Mayor Bonde said the town had changed a lot in the last three decades.

“Thirty years on from the anti-gay rallies in Ulverstone, we are now a more inclusive and respectful community.”

“This tree and plaque are symbols of how far we have come and remind us that we are dedicated to being a community that embraces all its members.”

Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, and Central Coast Councillor, Amanda Diprose, helped Mrs Bonde plant the tree and unveil the plaque. (pictured above) 

Croome said he hoped the tree and it’s declarative plaque would inspire people.

“Thirty years ago, Ulverstone was the centre of resistance to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, but now it is leading Tasmania towards greater LGBTI inclusion.”

“My hope is this plaque and tree will prompt people to reflect on that dramatic change, and inspire them to overcome whatever injustices they may face.”

Councillor Amanda Diprose, whose successful Council motion led to the event, said the tree was for the entire community.

“This is for all LGBTI people, their families, their friends and supporters, and for the whole community.”

In 1989, Ulverstone hosted the first and worst of the many rallies protesting against decriminalising homosexuality across Tasmania. Many of the groups opposed to the reform were also based in the town.

In the years since, Ulverstone gave birth to Tasmania’s statewide LGBTI support organisation, Working It Out, Ulverstone High School received Tasmania’s top award for LGBTI inclusion, and the Ulverstone Bridge has been lit in rainbow colours.

In the 2017 postal survey, Tasmania’s North West Coast returned majority support for marriage equality. A year later the Ulverstone Civic Centre, where the anti-gay rallies were held, hosted the wedding of local same-sex couple, Trish Bock and Sally Marks.

The plaque placed beneath the tree reads; “This tree was planted as a living reminder of our community’s journey to becoming LGBTI inclusive. It honours those who took a stand for equality, and reminds us that all lives and contributions are equally valuable.”

Source: Media Release