Cazneuax's Tree is a much loved and very famous tree near Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges. It came to its fame in 1937 when Harold Cazneaux photographed it and called it "Spirit of Endurance" as testament to life in such a hard and unforgiving environment. His photo won international acclaim and since then the tree has been photographed and painted many times.
Harold Cazneaux (30 March 1878 – 19 June 1953) was an Australian pictorialist photographer; a pioneer of Australian photography.
The Spirit of Australia In 1941 he wrote this about the legendary tree: "This giant gum tree stands in solitary grandeur on a lonely plateau in the arid Flinders Ranges, South Australia, where it has grown up from a sapling through the years, and long before the shade from its giant limbs ever gave shelter from heat to white men. The passing of the years has left it scarred and marked by the elements - storm, fire, water, - unconquered, it speaks to us from a Spirit of Endurance. Although aged, its widespread limbs speak of a vitality that will carry on for many more years. One day, when the sun shone hot and strong, I stood before this giant in silent wonder and admiration. The hot wind stirred its leafy boughs, and some of the living elements of this tree passed to me in understanding and friendliness expressing The Spirit of Australia."
If you think that the phrase "The Spirit of Australia" sounds familiar, then check out the wording on every QANTAS plane - it's there and it's because of this tree that it is.
Pioneers Then and Now Cazneaux's work has been exhibited all over the world. He founded the Sydney Camera Circle, was a prolific writer and was extensively exhibited, published and commissioned for both his photographic and written works.
Harold travelled to the Flinders Ranges three times - travelling there during the same era as Hans Heysen who also captured the Australian bush so brilliantly in his paintings.
The original Spirit of Endurance photograph was donated to the NSW Art Gallery by his family in 1975. Dick Smith, the great Aussie adventurer and entrepreneur is Harold Cazneaux's grandson.
Where Is It? You can find the tree on the main Hawker to Blinman Road which goes through the Flinders Ranges National Park. The entrance to the tree is just north of the turn off into Wilpena Pound.
There is a fairly decent compacted gravel path which would be okay for prams, walkers and wheelchairs. Follow the path for about 300 metres from the carpark to the tree. This is dependent on weather conditions though. The path was closed in the weeks leading up to my visit due to a massive tree branch coming off another River Gum and collapsing on the bridge that crosses the path.
It's a beautifully picturesque spot for a coffee break or quick rest stop, but there are no toilet facilities here.
Cazneaux's Tree is located within the Flinders Ranges National Park. Park entry fees apply and there may be some enforced park closures during days of extreme fire danger. If you need more information, go to the National Parks SA website.