12 October, 2022
Nyngan has the Big Bogan, Goulburn has the Big Merino, and adding to that list, Armatree is officially home to the ‘Big ArmaTree’.
“Something like this has never quite been done
before, and I’m not sure if it’ll ever be done again,”
laughed Gilgandra shire deputy mayor Ash Walker, at
the enormity of the structure.
In a different line of ‘big’ things, the Armatree
Memorial Precinct aims to bring tourists and locals
alike together to learn about the village’s history, and
admire the work of local hands.
Located 50 metres from Armatree Hotel, the
precinct includes history boards, a cenotaph, and the big
tree. While these may not necessarily be new structures,
being in place for over a year now, the official opening
of the precinct was held on Thursday, October 6 after
the final signage was put into place.
The precinct was created from hours of brainstorming
by the Armatree Progress Association, with artist
Margaret Windeyer designing the tree, and the team at
Central West Machining and Engineering making the
dreams a reality.
“There’s a couple of sculptures around the world
where part of the idea and appeal is the shadow, and the
way it changes at different times of the day. And that’s
what the ArmaTree does,” said local artist Margaret
“[Committee member] Jenny Bradley rang me to ask
me if I’d put in an idea for a tree, she told me about the
project and how they had been given a grant and I said
‘I’ll have a think’. Like all good researchers these days
I went on the internet to see what else has been done as
“I was told it was going to be made from steel, and I
just came up with the idea from there.”
After submitting her design and a scale model, the
Armatree Progress Association committee selected Ms
“It was pretty amazing, I am really honoured,” she
But large scale projects aren’t new to Ms Windeyer.
Over the years, the high school art teacher has worked
on backdrops for school productions, all the way
through to designing the western district exhibit at the
Sydney Royal Easter Show.
“I’ve been doing that since 2014 [Easter show].
Large scale stuff like that, while it’s a totally different
medium to the tree, it’s also not that different.
“I love working in 3D. Whether that is clay, cardboard,
wire, even recycled materials; I’ve always been
drawn to it, it adds an amazing extra element. Ever since
I can remember I’ve always drawn and created art.”
The tree stands tall, with a plague just nearby which
The Big ArmaTree Erected in 2022, symbolic of a living tree, the sculpture represents this active and vibrant community. Just as a tree puts down roots that hold it in place, so have the people who have chosen Armatree and the surrounding district as their home.
The truck represents the strength of a small, yet thriving community who work together, and the spread of the branches depicts how each person goes their own way in life but are still part of the whole.
The canopy, with its pattern of the leaves, gives shade and shelter for all and the continual shift of shadows with the passage of sun represent how nothing stays the same in a unique community where every person has a place.
The Big ArmaTree project was developed with the Armatree Progress Association. Artist concept by Margaret Windeyer.
The committee was formed through village people
and local property owners, looking to promote their
Jenny Bradley said that the reason people were
willing to get together and brainstorm ideas, was
because it was all “community-based, community
minded, and community beautification” involved.
Shirley Marks from the Gilgandra Historical Society
played a major role in putting together the history
boards, and was recognised for her hard work.
“It’s all about promoting our little village at
Armatree, and making it a destination. Something to
drive off the highway to have a look at, and learn about
the social, and agricultural history,” said Ms Bradley.
With the help from the three levels of government,
the project was able to go ahead.
The village beautification project had over $95,000
injected into Armatree from the state government,
through round two of the stronger counts communities
fund, and the shire parks program respectively.
Over $70,000 was invested into the project for the
landscaping, under round one of the federal governments
Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program.
Both NSW minister for agriculture Dugald
Saunders, and federal member for Parkes Mark Coulton
helped officially open the precinct.
“Today’s an example of the three levels of government
working together with the community, and that’s
how it should be,” said Mr Coulton.
“This area has a real reputation and it’s great for visitors
to call in, but it’s also people I’m talking to here
today, there’s a great amount of pride locally to have it.
I think its incredibly clever the design of it, it’s just
Mr Saunders also congratulated the committee on
their determination and commitment to the project.
“The idea was to have something that’s a little bit
different for Armatree. It’s a well-known spot, mainly
because of the pub these days, but over the years it’s had
lots of different parts.
“And that’s what the history boards are about. And the tree, everyone who comes to Armatree can go ‘hey! Armatree!’” said Mr Saunders.
“People are always looking for different tourism
activities and experiences. There are trails for art and
big things, and I think this will fit in well. I mean its not
the biggest tree ever, it’s still pretty big. Once you see
the tree, you see the stories, what Armatree has been,
and what Armatree is now.”
The committee that put the project together consisted
of Barry Malone, Ted Charnley, Sally Beveridge,
Garry Fordham, Jenny Bradley, Sara Roche, Mark
Morris, and Sarah Fardell.
The official opening was held on Thursday, October 6, 2022, and was followed by morning tea provided by Armatree CWA.