Fiona's scar tree has disappeared, and now she's fighting to save others (2022)

Until recently, a big old river red gum greeted people onthe road that runs along the banks of the Murray River near the WalkerFlat ferry crossingin South Australia.

"I looked at it every time I came off the punt," says Fiona Giles, spokesperson for theRiver Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation.

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The whitened trunk of the tree, which hadbeen dead for some time,bore scars from slabs of bark that had been cut away and shaped into canoes by Fiona's ancestors.

But around six months ago, the tree suddenly collapsedand slipped into the river.

"My 73-year-old mum went down and tried to drag the river with a heavy rope with a weight on the end to try to feel it," Fiona says.

Fiona's mother andNganguruku elderJenni Gracewanted torecover the tree and put it up onAboriginal land topreserve her ancestors' history.

"I always think how long that would have taken to chip with a piece of rock and with a wooden handle to get it off and make a canoe," Jennisays.

"That's the thing for me, thinking about how hard it would have been for the ancestors making that transport."

But although somepeople reported the treehad broken up and was floating down the river, Jennicouldn't find it.

'The water is not what it used to be'

Scar treesdocument the living history of First Nations people right along the Murray.

River red gums (Eucalyptuscamaldulensis)were the tree of choice for making canoes, while the denser wood of theblack box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) was used to make shields and coolamonsto carry food.

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But faced with declining water conditions and devastating drought, scar trees have suffered along some parts of the river.

Before European settlement, these trees lived through boom and bust cycles of flood and drought.

As the Australian colony grew,locks and weirswere built tostabilisewater flows andsupport townships that sprung up along the Murray's banks.

They alsoenabled boats to travel along the length of the riveras it meanderedthrough broad flood plains, soaring red cliffs, and swamps to the sea.

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While trees along the river banks had ayear-round water supply,trees in permanently inundated areas died off, and thoseon higher ground were starved of waterand salt built up in thesoil.

"The condition of the water is not like what it used to be," says Jenni, who grew up travellingall along the river.

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That's whyJenni and Fiona are part of theLiving Murray Program, working with scientists tomonitor the health of scar trees and water all along the river.

While some areas are still struggling,innovative water management programsare bringing life back tosome billabongs in the backblocks of the flood plains.

"When the water gets delivered on Country, the whole thing just comes alive," Fiona says.

Spectacular seasonal cycles

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River red gums mark out waterways across most of Australia.

As winter draws to an end, the red river gums on the Murray start to shed their bark.

In the right light they even appear to glow, says Susan Gehrig, anecologist and ecophysiologist who studies the health of flood plainsalong the Murray.

"The bark hangs off the big trees like tinsel on a Christmas tree, and the fresh bark underneath is almost silvery white," she says.

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It's part of the spectacular seasonal cycle on the flood plains.

"In a couple of months' time, the flood plains will look amazing when the pig face comes out and there's hot pink flowers under the eucalypts," DrGehrig says.

"One of the reasons I love the flood plains is they are dynamic."

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River red gumshave evolved to adapt to the ebb and flow of water, as long as it's not too dry or wet for too long.

When conditions are flush, the trees release seeds into the water en masse.

Smaller than a grain of sand, the seedsquickly send down a tap root as soon as the water recedes.

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The strategy is to hit the groundwater asquickly as possible and anchor the tree in the soil.

They develop a fine network of roots in the upper soil, whichwill eventually make up the majority of the biomass and providethe bulk of water to the tree.

"If there is any part of the river where the sediment has worn away a bit, you can really see these strong root systems," Dr Gehrig says.

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River red gums can grow up to 40 metrestalland measure up to 15maround their girth.

The trees are hard to age as they only put down tree rings in the good years, but itcantake up to 150 years for a tree to develop the hollows that characterise its gnarly form and provide vital habitat for animals.

Monitoring vital habitats and scar trees

The mid to lower parts of the Murray River have a number of internationally significant wetlands on public and private land, which provide critical habitats for vulnerable and endangered animals like the regent parrot and southern bell frog.

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"The flood plains were always meant tocycle through the boom phase of a flood back to the dry cycle," Dr Gehrig says.

"But if we stretch that dry cycle too long … then we are possibly getting away from what a good-condition flood plain should look like."

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At the first sign of water stress, the trees become dormant, stop flowering, and shed their leaves. If they become highly stressed, they can die.

This is what happened during the millennium drought of 2001to2009.

The drought took an "incredible toll", says Kate Mason, an ecologist at theMurraylands and Riverland Landscape Board.

"It was a depressing time to work up and down the river."

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While all the river was affected, habitats in the Riverlandtowards the border of South Australiasuffered the most.

You don't need to drive far away from the river bank to still see the impact, Ms Mason said.

"You might be looking at trees with a girth that when it was alive, it was probably 500 years old."

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Fiona and archaeologists from Flinders University documented the impact ofscartrees on Calperum Station, aconservation area on Ramsar-listed wetlandsjust downstream of Chowilla.

They found that 80 per cent of the scar trees recorded had died or were dying.

"Becauseof European colonisation, there are few bark objects known from [the Riverland] region," says Amy Roberts, one of the study's authors.

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"This is the only imprint we have of those objects going back in time."

Returning water to the flood plains

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Following the millennium drought, state and federal governments started tolookat ways to restore the water flowsacross some parts of the flood plain.

Although the treescan access groundwater, they get most of their waterfrom the top part of the soil.

But the top part of the soil has become saltier in areas where the water table has risen, says Todd Wallace, a water ecologist at the University of Adelaide.

"The ground water in some areas is estimated to be 3 metres higher than it used to be," Dr Wallace says.

In the absence of regular flooding,increasing the flow backacross the surface of the flood plain can help dilute the salt.

One wayto dothis is to raise the water levels in weirs by a few centimetres, so water flowsup into the billabongs beyond the main channel, and thenlower the wateragain.

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A new system was also built on a side branch of the Murray that bypasses the main weirsand uses gravity to manage water across the Chowilla-Calperum flood plain.

Unregulated flows of water thatareexcess to economic use, as well asenvironmental water allocated by the regulator, are pumped onto smallerflood plainsto create ephemeral wetlands.

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Trees that were teetering on the brinkcan make surprising recoveries with a little water.

As their thirst is quenched, shoots appear from under their barkin the same way many eucalypts recover from bushfire.

It can take up to two years for the canopy to recover, and the tree starts flowering again.But there are no guarantees.

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"We've seen some heartbreaking situations where we thought they wererecovering, but it was almost a last puff of life," ecologist Ms Mason says.

"They put on this short burst of epicormic growth and then died suddenly, even with water at their base, because it was just too long between drinks."

But, she says, environmental watering programs offer hope.

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"It does come with a price tag and it does come with a hunger for resources,but if we look at the do-nothing approach, the trajectory will be a decline.

"We are just tryingto prevent so many areas from hitting that irrecoverable stage."

'We'll need to make some tough decisions'

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While conditions arecurrently flush for the trees that live along the river banks and in low-lying areas,those further out still findit tough.

Environmental watering has been incredibly successfulin areas of the Chowilla flood plain where water has been delivered, says Jan Whittle of the South Australian Department of Environment and Water.

But the water doesn't reach all of the flood plain.

"When we are operating …at full capacity, we can only get water tojust under 50 per centof the [Chowilla-Calperum] flood plain," she says.

"There is still a large proportion of flood plain that's kind of on its own, andwould have once received a much more frequent inundation just with natural flooding in the river," she says.

Flows down the river currently exceed50,000 megalitres per day, the most since 2016. But these are nowhere near theflood conditions needed to run right across the plains.

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To do that there would need to be extensive flooding along the Murray as well as the Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers, Ms Whittle says.

"We need more than 120,000 megalitresof water to get over that Chowilla-Calperum flood plain, and we haven't seen that since the 1970s."

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The flood plains will face even more pressure as climate changelengthens the gap between decent flood conditions and puts more pressure on the amount of water allocated for different uses along the river.

"It means will need to make some tough decisions," Ms Whittlesays.

For now though, parts of theflood plain are flush with water.

And there are still some magnificent scar trees in Chowillaif you know where to find them.

"I have my favourite scar trees," Fiona says.

One of the biggest she's ever seen bears a 2m-long scar down its trunk.

"It's massive, and the only way to get access to that tree is by boat.

"The bigger the scar is, you know that was abigger canoe for a bigger family."

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Three of the trees in our onlinepoll — the river red gum, mountain ash, andsnow gum— featured in a two-part Catalyst specialexploring the lives of eight of Australia's oldest, largest and most distinctive trees.Watch now on ABC iview.

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FAQs

Who does Fiona end up with? ›

In episode 4, Fiona impulsively marries Gus Pfender, the bassist of an indie rock band.

Does Fiona have baby? ›

Fiona the Hippo Is a Big Sister as Mom Gives Birth to Second Baby.

Why does the black fairy steal babies? ›

She uses the children she steals to mine dark fairy dust for herself. Through unknown means, her Dark Curse ends up in Bald Mountain, where it's guarded by the Chernabog, until stolen by her son, now the Dark One, with help from associates.

How old is Fiona in Shameless? ›

In Shameless season 1, Fiona is 21, Lip is 16, Ian is 15, Debbie is 11, Carl is nine, and Liam is around 18 months old. Debbie's daughter Franny, who was born when Debbie was 15, celebrates her fifth birthday in Shameless season 11, at which point Liam is about 11 years old.

What mental illness does Fiona Gallagher have? ›

Depression (Portrayed by Fiona Gallagher)

Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety. Treason, losing a job, family disagreements - this is what broke Fiona Gallagher in season 9.

Do Fiona and Steve get married? ›

Marriage. In the first episode of Series 8, Steve and Fiona are stated as being married during a scene where Libby Croker was trying to talk Liam out of leaving Chatsworth to visit them in person after receiving the false news of Debbie's death in Afghanistan.

Who is Fiona pregnant by? ›

Fiona, upon becoming pregnant by Craig Garland in Episode 208, told Veronica that she was the only girl in her school year who didn't become pregnant before receiving her GCSE's.

Is Fiona sibling a boy or girl? ›

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Monday finally revealed the sex of Fiona the Hippo's headline-making new sibling, and it's a boy!

Does Carl have a kid? ›

Carl Learned He Had Sons

Surprise! Carl's a biological dad to two babies. This is played out in season 9, but it's only now that Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) learns Frank (William H. Macey) and Ingrid used Carl's sperm without his knowledge in order to have kids.

Who is the dark fairy in Ever After High? ›

The Dark Fairy, who also goes by Madame Thorn, is the mother of Faybelle Thorn, a 2015-introduced and fiction-only character. As someone who is considered fairy royalty due to her admirable powers, and someone who embraces her evil side, she is notoriously feared in the fairytale world.

Is Black Fairy Rumple's mother? ›

The Black Fairy is the latest villain to wreak havoc on Storybrooke, and as is the case with almost everyone on the show, she's someone's relative. It turns out the Black Fairy is Rumple's mom, which has led fans to ask a lot of questions.

What is black fairies darkest secret? ›

The Black Fairy doesn't want the Blue Fairy to wake up. Turns out that Blue knows Black's darkest secret: the real reason she gave up Rumpelstiltskin as a baby. In flashbacks, The Black Fairy's background story is told. Her name was Fiona.

Why did Fiona quit Shameless? ›

In 2018, after appearing in Seasons 8 and 9, Rossum announced her departure from Shameless. In a thoughtful Facebook post, Rossum cited her exit as an opportunity to move onto other projects. “The opportunity to play Fiona has been a gift.

Are Carl and Fiona related? ›

Fiona is not Carl Gallagher's mother, although she did raise them for most of the series. When Shameless Season 1 began in 2011, Carl was nine years old, and Fiona was 21. So, the eldest Gallagher child was 12 years old when her sibling was born. She was not in high school yet, so the fan video is inaccurate.

How old is Carl Gallagher? ›

How old is Carl Gallagher in real life? Shameless is now in its 11th season, so Carl is 19 years old but was only nine years old when the show began. Ethan Cutkosky (who portrays Carl) was born on Aug. 19, 1999, in St.

What mental illness does Carl have in Shameless? ›

Only several days since he kidnapped his boyfriend's baby and took the wee lad on a road trip to Orlando, he has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and some unpleasant sounding psychotic tendencies.

Who is bipolar in Shameless? ›

Since the show's beginning in 2011, they've done an amazing job with their honest portrayal of bipolar disorder in Ian Gallagher, played by Cameron Monaghan.

Who has bpd in Shameless? ›

Beginning in Season 4, the show began to explore Ian Gallagher's (Cameron Monaghan) struggle with bipolar disorder, an illness he inherited from his mostly absentee mother, Monica (Chloe Webb).

Does Fiona end up with Ford? ›

After her breakup with Ford, Fiona finds herself at her lowest point yet. Thankfully, her family steps up just when she needs them. Here's what went down in the 'Shameless' midseason finale! Ian may be in prison, but he's making sure his family isn't forgetting about him.

Why did Jimmy leave Shameless? ›

Jimmy bribes Tony by giving him the house he bought for him and Fiona, and he leaves the country, hoping that Fiona will follow him. In the end, Fiona decides to stay in Chicago and she and Jimmy break up. Jimmy runs off to South America.

Who did Lip end up with? ›

Later in the season, Lip and Tami end up together. Lip ends up becoming a sponsor to Jason. Jason slips up after being 99 days sober, because of Fiona.

Who was the father of Fiona baby? ›

Bibi and the new calf will be separated from Fiona and the calf's father, Tucker, for a while. “Bibi and the baby, yet to be named, will spend the next two weeks bonding behind the scenes,” said Gorsuch.

Does Fiona ever get pregnant? ›

When Fiona unexpectedly finds out she is pregnant (and does not know who the father is), she ultimately decides to get an abortion.

Does lip have a baby? ›

Fred "Freddie" Gallagher is the newborn son of Lip Gallagher and Tami Tamietti. He is born into the Gallagher family at the beginning of Season 10.

Did Fiona's mom have baby? ›

The baby was born late Wednesday night. "I heard this, like, plop and splat," Jenna Wingate, a senior keeper for the zoo's Africa department, said describing the moments the new baby was born. The baby weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking.

Did Bibi have a boy or girl? ›

It's a boy! The Cincinnati Zoo has announced the gender of its newest baby hippo, born last Wednesday, live on the TODAY show Monday morning! The baby boy and mom, Bibi, have been bonding behind the scenes for the past week and will continue to do so for the next week.

Why is Fiona the hippo so special? ›

While Fighting The Odds, Fiona The Hippo Became A Social Media Star. She became the zoo's star animal and helped get more positive responses following the death of Harambe in 2016. The 17-year-old western lowland gorilla was shot and killed after a child fell into the enclosure.

Did Carl get someone pregnant? ›

Near the end of Season 11, Carl seemingly impregnated a woman named Tish, possibly giving the babies a half-sibling. They make a cameo in the Hall of Shame.

How old is Carl s4? ›

With a few small time-skips here and there, Carl is most likely 14 during the events of The Walking Dead season 4.

Does Lip get custody of Xan? ›

Lip works towards becoming Xan's legal guardian, and bribes Xan's biological mother Mercy into granting him custody.

Do Fiona and Jimmy end up together? ›

In the end, Fiona decides to stay in Chicago and she and Jimmy break up.

Do Fiona and Sean end up together? ›

Eventually, they end up falling for each other and in the season finale they almost get married until her father Frank reveals that Sean has started doing heroin again. He gives Fiona the ownership of Patsy's Pies and leaves for good.

Who does Fiona end up with season 9? ›

She and Sam [Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot and Homecoming] got married two years ago and often were not in the same place a lot, which is very difficult. Fiona also doesn't get to say goodbye to her best friend Veronica (Shanola Hampton).

Do Fiona and Gus end up together? ›

Series Information

Gus Pfender is a minor character. He's the ex-husband of Fiona Gallagher. He and Fiona married after a week of dating, and are now divorced because of her infidelity with her ex Jimmy as well as her feelings for Sean.

Why did they cut Fiona out of Shameless? ›

In 2018, after appearing in Seasons 8 and 9, Rossum announced her departure from Shameless. In a thoughtful Facebook post, Rossum cited her exit as an opportunity to move onto other projects. “The opportunity to play Fiona has been a gift.

Why does Steve leave Shameless? ›

Justin Chatwin (Steve Wilton/Jimmy Lishman/Jack)

Given the turbulent nature of their relationship the writers behind Shameless decided to end the character's story after this brief appearance in Season 5.

Who does Frank Gallagher end up with? ›

According to Frank, he met Monica at a concert when she was being chased by a man who raped her. They fell in love and married about two weeks after dating, with Frank dropping out of college to be with her.

Does Sean get killed in Shameless? ›

While Frank's (William H. Macy) plan to kill Sean (Dermot Mulroney) was foiled, he still managed to ruin daughter Fiona's big day. He interrupts the nuptials (high, of course) and outs addict Sean for falling off the wagon again and, effectively, being just like Frank.

Did Carl leave Shameless? ›

Carl's exit during Series 9 was announced in an interview with "OK! Magazine" at the time Series 8 was airing.

Is Fiona coming back season 11? ›

No, Fiona does not return for the final season of Shameless. Fiona Gallagher, the eldest sister and guardian of the family, departed the show during the season 9 finale.

Does Fiona ever get pregnant? ›

When Fiona unexpectedly finds out she is pregnant (and does not know who the father is), she ultimately decides to get an abortion.

Will Fiona be in season 10? ›

She better, otherwise I'm gonna grab her by the ear and bring her back." However, though Fiona calls to check in during the very first episode of season 10 after she leaves, Rossum never made another appearance on the show — and that door appears to be closed now.

Who is Fiona's baby daddy Shameless? ›

Craig Garland was a Chatsworth resident, first introduced in Series 2. He was legally married to Sue Garland for 8 years, but was no longer in any sort of relationship with her when he met Fiona Gallagher who he had a child with.

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