Hepburn tree keeps soldier's legend alive

Hepburn Primary School is one of the first primary schools in Victoria to participate in the Gallipoli Oaks Project. Grade 6 students Brayden and Sunday plant a Holly Oak tree watched on by Daylesford RSL's Robert Oonk, in the school grounds in the lead up to Anzac Day.
Picture: JULIE HOUGH
Hepburn Primary School is one of the first primary schools in Victoria to participate in the Gallipoli Oaks Project. Grade 6 students Brayden and Sunday plant a Holly Oak tree watched on by Daylesford RSL's Robert Oonk, in the school grounds in the lead up to Anzac Day. Picture: JULIE HOUGH

A GALLIPOLI Oak tree now sits at the back of Hepburn Primary School, to ensure an Anzac legend lives on.

The planting, now expected to be rolled out to every primary school in Victoria, is in honour of young Australian soldier Captain Winter Cooke from Murndal, near Hamilton.

When travelling to Anzac Cove, Captain Cooke noticed some unusual holly bushes that had acorns like oak trees.

He sent a sample to his tree-enthusiast uncle, who planted the tree in Hamilton and Geelong. 

Only one survived - and now local students have planted a seedling that is a direct descendants of those acorns from Gallipoli.

Hepburn is one of the first primary schools to be involved in the state-wide project, with 500 more schools now taking part. 

Daylesford RSL vice-president Ken Penny said on Friday that it was marvellous to see young people taking part in Anzac celebrations. 

"Years ago, children didn't know anything about it but I think they're starting to think about it more and more," he said.

Students have also been learning about former soldiers who attended Hepburn Primary School.

"It is hard to imagine what they went through," school captain Sunday, 12, said.

"We feel like we know them know though and we know a bit more about everything that happened back then."

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