Owners believe someone poisoned historic trees
THE family owners of one of Bundaberg's most historic Queenslanders is devastated after two century-old gum trees on the property appeared to have been poisoned.
John Rogers spoke to the NewsMail on behalf of all his family and said the trees had a huge sentimental value and were much loved by members of the community.
The two river gums are in the front yard of the former Hog's Breath Cafe and ill-fated 66 On Quay restaurant opposite Alexandra Park and Mr Rogers said the family had received threats about the trees in the past 18 months.
He said the family spent a significant amount of money to bring all four of the gum trees back to health after they were previously poisoned, and now it appears someone had succeeded in killing at least two of them.
"The house was built in 1908 by one of the original mayors and he built the house for his daughter when she got married and the trees have been there since then," Mr Rogers said.
"We're trying to lease the restaurant out and sell it but it's a bit hard with how it looks now.
"The trees are completely dead and it looks like a haunted house."
As the gums are on private property Mr Rogers said he was uncertain if there were any laws to protect the trees.
He said even if they could prove someone poisoned the trees and had them charged with wilful damage, it wouldn't bring back the significant trees.
"We're really upset, my father is most upset about it. My mum, who's passed away, loved them so much she put a spotlight under them to highlight the trees. My sister cried when she heard," he said.
"We've been told by a friend of a friend that someone proposed to his wife under one tree. They meant a lot to people.
"It's just such a selfish act."
It's not the first time the restaurant has caused heartache for the Rogers family. Last year John's father Laurie loaned more than $110,000 to a woman to revamp the restaurant, but she pocketed the cash.
The restaurant opened in May last year but within days the Facebook page was removed and the woman disappeared.
Contractors engaged to carry out the work were never paid and staff didn't see a cent.
The building has remained empty since then.