Kings Park Boab Tree – BGC Contracting and its JV Partners make it possible

Kings Park Boab Tree – BGC Contracting and its JV Partners make it possible

The transplanting of a giant 750 year old boab tree from the Kimberley to Kings Park was made possible by Team Savannah (BGC, Laing O'Rourke and Maunsell Joint Venture) which is led by our Project Director, Tony Petrusma.

The tree was on the alignment of a new road and bridge which could not be altered because it had to connect to an existing road alignment near Warmun in the Kimberleys.

Team Savannah consulted with the local Gija people and it was agreed that the boab tree could be transplanted some 100 metres away from its original location.

Team Savannah sought advice from the Kings Park horticultural people on how to go about the process as they had previously replanted 6 smaller boabs in Kings Park.

After more consultation, the outcome is now a brilliant piece of history.

Environment Minister, David Templeman, officially welcomed the tree to its new home in Kings Park on Sunday 20 July 2008 in front of a big crowd.

Tony Petrusma gave a speech describing in some detail how it was all made possible and the speech is attached.

Congratulations to Tony Petrusma and Team Savannah for instigating a project that has truly captured the imagination of the Western Australian public and will have a long-lasting impact provided the boab survives. I am told that it will take 3 years before we can say it survived.


19 boab ceremony 3

Photo: Tony Petrusma and John Dunkley taking part in the smoking ceremony


Tony Petrusma's Speech

Hon Minister, Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Team Savannah is proud to be involved with the relocation of the ‘jumulu' boab from the Kimberley to Perth.

Team Savannah is a consortium of BGC Contracting, Laing O'Rourke Australia, and Maunsell Australia, a team of contractors and designer engaged by Main Roads WA some 8 months ago through a unique 'Early Contractor Involvement' process to assist in the design, planning and construction of highway upgrading near Warmun some 170km south of Kununurra.

Through Main Roads' vision, this package of roadworks and bridge construction required Team Savannah to deliver more than new infrastructure. It was also required to involve the community, develop innovative solutions, leave a lasting legacy and provide sustainable outcomes – social, environmental, and economic benefits.

Collaboration with the Gija people and Warmun community has been a strong focus of Team Savannah, and will produce other benefits for the community such as employment and training.

What you see here today is a brilliant example of outcomes satisfying these objectives.

This all started in the planning stage when our team realised that this boab could not be avoided in providing a new highway bridge. The idea of replanting it some 100 metres away sounded difficult but feasible, and through our relationship with the Warmun community, we got agreement from the local representatives of the Gija people - Shirley Purdie and Sandy Thomas.

It was not until we approached Kings Park Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for advice about a relocation did we realise that not only was this feasible, but that Kings Park were keen to relocate the boab a little further south, to Perth. With the cooperation of Team Savannah and agreement from Shirley Purdie and Sandy Thomas, Kings Park took on the role of facilitating this transfer, and I commend their vision, enthusiasm, and expertise in what they have achieved in the short time frame available.

This 3200km journey has been a logistical challenge for them, and I particularly mention Patrick Courtney for making this event a reality. It is now up to the BGPA to nurture this boab. I pray that this boab will take root and be fruitful for many generations to come, and that it's seed will once again populate the ground where it once stood proudly for so long.

We hope to see some of the Gija people in Kings Park in September for the Kings Park Festival, and look forward to them sharing more stories about the boab and how important it is to Aboriginal people.


18 boab ceremony 2

Photo: The boab tree being placed in position


In closing, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to:

The Gija people of East Kimberley for their willingness to present this boab as a gift to the Nyoongar people and people of WA.

KPBGPA for taking on the organising of the relocation.

BGC, LOR, Maunsell, and Main Roads for their joint sponsorship of this event.

The many organisations and contractors who contributed and participated to make this happen. 

Main Roads, BGC, LOR, and Maunsell for their commitment to relationship contracting, and for making available the skilled, capable, and professional staff needed to work together to see best-for-project ideals become a reality.

Team Savannah, our team of people in Perth and on site, for your focus, enthusiasm and commitment to produce exceptional outcomes, with special thanks to Leigh Hardingham and Jamie Shaw for your efforts in the smooth interfacing with the Parks Authority and the Warmun community.

Thank You.