Only at Greenough – our unique leaning trees

When European settlers arrived on the Greenough Flats in the 1850s onwards, they were amazed by the bizarre gum trees that grew in this locality. The River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is found throughout southern Australia growing along watercourses and on flood plains. It is only on the windswept Greenough Flats that the tree develops its distinctive leaning shape.

Here the tree was known by the Yamatji as Kurlayhi.

Traversed the Flats a good deal. Very hot… Enjoyed ourselves very much in this dry agricultural estuary where there are waves of corn instead of water. Very few trees and those which exist are blown all over to the northward. (Henry Prinsep’s Diary, 13th December 1871).

The oldest photograph of a leaning tree at Greenough in our collection is from c1930. Donated 2020/062.


In 1950 the town of Geraldton celebrated its centenary and souvenirs of local icons were created for tourists visiting the region. 

Royal Stafford Bone China dish 2022/034, and Royal Stafford Bone China plate 2013/083.




 “Look Rob,” his mother said, taking her hand off the steering wheel and pointing. “What are they?” He followed her finger, and saw the familiar gumtrees, crippled and stooped by the southerly, bowing northwards and trailing their leaves on the ground.

“Oh,” he said, with a sort of embarrassment, “The ladies washing their hair.”

(extract from Randolph Stow’s The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, 1968).

In 1973 the Shire of Greenough adopted the leaning tree as part of its logo.

Shire of Greenough promotional fridge magnet, c2000. 2013/018.




“Greenough Tree” framed oil painting by L.G. Andrews, c1990.

Painting donated by M. Lambert 2012/032.

On both sides of the road you will notice Flooded Gums growing and are of many different shapes. It is believed the South winds are responsible for this. They have been that shape as long as I can remember and no doubt since they were seedlings. It has been said they are bending over backwards to welcome visitors to the town. (written by Greenough resident George Knapp c1993).

The leaning trees are very popular subjects for photographers.







Bruce and Dot Anderson celebrating life under a leaning tree on their property at Greenough.

Photograph taken by Peter Dameon, 2006.

Images of the leaning tree are found on many types of souvenirs.

Above L-R: Ansett Pioneer postcard c1980, 2020/121; teaspoon, c1980, 2014/114; fridge magnets c1995, 2020/077 and cap, c2000, 2013/158.

We are always looking for other photographs, art works and souvenirs of Greenough’s leaning trees to add to the collection.