An historic Camphor Laurel tree that has been part of the landscape of Maitland’s river bank for more than 100 years will be cut down on Monday morning.
Lavenders Riverside Cafe owner Stephanie Purdon has lost her appeal to save the iconic tree, which has provided a picturesque backdrop and shade for her patrons.
After a meeting with her solicitor on Thursday morning, Mrs Purdon said the fight to save the tree was becoming too expensive and there was nothing more she could do to stop its demise.
“Many tears have been shed by both myself and my staff and unfortunately time has run out and the tree will be cut down at 7am, Monday,” she said.
Mrs Purdon was to hold a meeting with her 14 staff members on Thursday afternoon advising them of the outcome and telling them that they would be stood down for three days while the tree was removed.
“We’re all feeling pretty shallow and empty. It’s such a horrible and sad outcome,” she said.
Lavenders will re-open next Thursday at 7am. A get-together will be held at the cafe on Sunday afternoon between 3pm and 4pm so staff and customers can carve their names into the tree as a final farewell.
“I’m so disappointed. It feels like my heart has been ripped out. People are playing with your livelihood and not taking responsibility for it,” Mrs Purdon said.
“Hopefully people will continue to support us even though there will be a big void here,” she said.
Mrs Purdon said she was unable to afford the installation of expensive shade structures, which came with a price tag of about $35,000.
Maitland Council approved the removal of the tree after an assessment by tree service company Assurance Trees.
A council spokesperson said the tree was very large and caused significant maintenance issues due to leaf litter and associated water damage. It is also suspected that the tree is likely to be causing structural damage to an adjacent building.
Mrs Purdon said the tree was one of the drawcards for buying the business six years ago.