That Which Is Hidden – The Grieving Tree

Primbee is a quiet suburb on the edge of Lake Illawarra. Founded sometime in the 1920s,Primbee has been resting on the edge of the bay and formed into a place not where people built and did business, but where they raised families, where they grew, and where they set down roots and made homes and lives.

Primbee is a place that seems almost idyllic as a suburb. In the Wollongong area, we’re used to seeing the fingerprints of industrialisation everywhere; the train station that sits closer to a steelworks than a footpath, or the highway that detours around smokestacks, with homes huddling on the land too hilly to be used for business, or sprawled out on expensive land near the beach. But Primbee isn’t like that; it’s almost eerie in its simplicity. It really is a place where, once upon a time, a family could buy a home, and pay it off, and grow up and old. But the roots we set down in our youth are deep indeed.

Libby, an artist, spoke about the home; she spoke about how it was bought with a small loan from a family member, how it was paid off while she raised her daughters. The story she shared was of a home that grew – and then she spoke about her daughters leaving home. One went to Queensland; one went to Wollongong. But time has passed, and they’ve both come back, back to Primbee.

It’s a small place, with a school, a post office, and not much else but parks and homes. Throughout the town, you can find old, weathered trees, twisted and shaped by their proximity to the lake, made hardy by the cold breezes and the occasional flood. You could pass by every tree and not know any of their stories, know who planted them, when, or why.

There’s one tree, though, out behind a home named Windsong. It towers high above the fences, spreading its branches wide and wild. Tucked in amongst the branches are some old planks, sitting there and weathered out over the years. Far down under its branches, the lake laps back and forth; there’s a fire pit, and a rolling small hill. It’s a place that’s seen weddings and birthdays, laughing and singing.

It’s also a place that’s seen grieving.

Beneath this great tree lie the graves of thirty years of pets, each one loved, and known, and passed.