Thanks to the staff and management of the Westchester Group of Australia and ‘Boolah Farms’, Boggabri has its first ‘blue tree’ just out of town on their property ‘Milchengowrie’.
A huge old dead tree that would have been ignored in the past by drivers has been transformed into a striking feature.
“The aim of the project is to encourage people to start the difficult conversation and open up if they are suffering from depression and/or anxiety,” David Gourley, general manager (Northern and Eastern regions) said.
“We have had several years of drought, and now COVID-19 which all impact on people’s mental health.”
“We want to assure our staff and the general community that we are supportive, that we all have blue days, however, there will always be someone who you can talk to, and someone will listen.”
The project was inspired by a story which was told at Jayden Whyte’s funeral on November 23, 2019.
Jayden painted a tree blue one night on his family farm, in Mukinbudin, Western Australia, after sneaking out, wondering just how long it would be before anyone noticed the deep blue tree on the horizon.
The tree was painted out of love, mischief and friendship.
It was painted with special friend Tjarda Tiedeken, a German backpacker, on February 14, 2014.
He thought it would be a shock for his dad when he found it in the middle of the paddock.
Jayden’s family say he was close to family, loved, highly intelligent and driven, however, they were not aware of the extent of his mental health issues.
Jayden presented himself to hospital twice in one day.
The first time calling 000, where a policeman attended the scene until an ambulance arrived.
He was taken to hospital and discharged two hours later.
He then took himself back to hospital later that evening, where again he was released, this time into the dark at 11pm, to find his way home, where it ended in tragic circumstances.
After Jayden’s death, the family repainted the tree in honour of his memory.
Since then, blue trees have popped up all over the place as a reminder to check in with your mates and start the conversation about mental health.
Under the watchful eye of CEO, Sam Conway and ‘Milchengowrie’ farm manager David Donaldson, a path to the chosen tree and a space beneath the tree was made ready for the trimming and painting.
As you can see from the photos it was a massive tree.
Mr Donaldson was one of the first to arrive and last to leave, lending a hand and making sure that everything was in place so that the paint job went smoothly.
A local roofing and plumbing service also volunteered their expertise.
Donna Turner said: “In all the years we have been in business this is the first time we have been asked to paint a tree”.
Pete Brien trimmed the tree, and then painted the tree with the help of David Gourley, Sam Conway and Rowan Keeler.
Mr Gourley said the company plans to replicate this project on several other Westchester farms thought out Australia, however, Boggabri is the first tree to be painted.
The tree took 40 litres to paint which is the same colour as the original tree in WA.
Currently there are more than 640 trees all over Australia as well as a few in England, America and New Zealand.
If you or someone you know needs help contact Lifeline 131 114 or lifeline.org.au
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On the starting line: Pete Brien, David Gourley, Roley Stinson, David Donaldson, Preston Brien, Will Grey, Rowan Keeler and Sam Conway.
David Gourley and Pete Brien.
All hands-on deck to put the cherry picker in place: Rowan Keeler, Sam Conway, David Donaldson, David Gourley and Pete Brien.
Sam Conway spray painting the tree.
Pete Brien mixing the paint.