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Gone But Not Forgotten … Farewell Ficus!

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One of the last known photos of Proston's famous ficus ... the plant was cut down without warning on Monday by the hall's new owner

September 6, 2017

Proston’s famous footpath ficus plant is no more … local residents watched in stunned disbelief – and some with anger – as the hardy plant was given the chop on Monday.

The ficus, which has been growing out of the former Proston Public Hall in Blake Street for years, was cut down by a new owner who recently purchased the building for the bargain price of $31,500.

Talk around town is that the buyer, from interstate, plans to live in the building.

The sale has also scuttled plans by the Proston Men’s Shed, who had been hoping they could turn the old hall into a work area for the group.

Proston Public Hall was built in 1934 during the town’s boom years. It housed a cinema in the rear and four shops along the front.

For many years it also served as Proston’s Town Hall after the picture theatre wound down.

While no one knows where the ficus originally came from, it is believed the plant was left in the Hall’s foyer when the building closed about 9 years ago after the Proston Community Hall was built to replace it.

Over many years – and without watering – the plant continued to grow and make its way towards the light.

The ficus steadily took over the front window of one of the retail shops, and eventually found a broken window pane which allowed it to expand on to the footpath.

In recent years the plant’s extraordinary progress turned it into a mini tourist attraction for the town.

The ficus also won the respect of locals, who were happy to walk on the road to get around it.

Nick Blanch, from Jacaranda Tearooms, said he was sad to see the plant go and thought most other residents would share the same feeling.

Some residents said they saw the plant’s steady expansion not as a sign of dereliction but as a dogged refusal to give up in the face of difficult circumstances, which they found inspiring.

Others said they just thought it was nice to see such an exuberant splash of green in the CBD.

One said children would miss it the most, as it had been there all their lives.

As the ficus was cut down, some locals took cuttings in the hope they can resurrect the much-loved plant at another location.

[UPDATED]

How Proston Public Hall used to look until Monday (Photo: Google)

How Proston Hall looked on Tuesday morning after the plant's removal (Photo: Alicia Pidgeon)

A side view of the ficus, taken on August 19 ... over 9 years the giant plant had steadily grown to take over roughly one quarter of the 83-year-old building's frontage


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4 Responses to Gone But Not Forgotten … Farewell Ficus!

  1. Lyn

    Have only lived in Proston for ten years, but the old hall was used for the Christmas Carnival for at least two years that I can remember, also used for ballroom dancing and other things such as meetings, party plan ideas etc, line dancing as well, until the new Community Hall was completed, then that was used. So the old hall has not been closed for 15 years as stated in story. The plant in question was an attraction when it was small, but a big danger once it had grown to its gigantic proportions. Also the new owner would have been worried about insurance if anything had happened to someone walking past it. Good luck to the person who purchased it . His property and he could do with it as he wished. Just saying my opinion.

    • News Desk

      Thank you Lyn. We were told the former hall closed 15 years ago, but in light of your information we have now researched when the new hall was built (it was completed on September 3, 2008) and have updated our story to reflect this.

  2. Narelle O'Neill

    Such a shame to see the Ficus gone. We have lived in the area 28 years and it was wonderful to see it survive even after the Town Hall moved.

  3. Stacey

    The story states that he paid $31,500 for the old hall. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with anyone what he has paid for the building. People should get the right information before publishing. And as for the ficus that plant has been there since I’ve lived in Proston and I’ve lived here for 25 years.