October 23, 2005

Dinosaur pines a winner

Desperate to claim a share of the ancient “dinosaur” native — the Wollemi pine — bidders held up their hands for more than $1.5 million yesterday at a Sydney auction.

They were after 292 “first generation” saplings grown from cuttings of rare parent pines in the Wollemi National Park, New South Wales.

And we can now appreciate why Hobart’s own Wollemi pine is secured in its circular security cage at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

The historic trees, once the food of dinosaurs, were thought to be extinct until a park ranger stumbled across them while canyoning.

Snatching the chance to recreate the now-secret grove, more than 200 bidders flocked to the Sydney Botanic Gardens for the Sotheby’s auction.

The largest and most coveted lot, the Sir Joseph Banks collection of 15 trees, was snapped up for $149,000, well in excess of the $50,000 auction house estimate.

Single trees, from tiny saplings to 2m trees, fetched between $2000 and $7000.

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