A Quirky Tale in Smithton
In 1937 thousands of acorns were distributed throughout the British Empire to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.
As two of the oldest members of the community, Thomas Wilkins and Jane Ollington were nominated to plant the coronation oak, one at Forest and the other on the Esplanade at Smithton. Both Jane and Thomas were diligent in tending to their respective acorn until it began to germinate.
When the day came to transplant the oak saplings on Arbor Day in 1939, Thomas Wilkins, being old and frail, nominated his brother-in-law, Edward Vale, to take his place. Warden M Sampson drove Edward Vale to Forest where the young oak was to be planted. 
Jane Ollington had already planted her oak tree on the Esplanade at Smithton on 28 July 1938. On this occasion, the event was low key with Warden Sampson and his wife and a few of Jane’s close relatives in attendance.
The site chosen was a dry bank in front of Mrs Nicol’s residence and facing the wharves. 
Until her death in 1942, Jane Ollington took a keen interest in the tree’s welfare. 
In 1953, eleven years after Jane Ollington’s passing, the Smithton Progress Association reported that Jane’s oak on the Esplanade was making good growth and suggested that an inscribed tablet be affixed to the tree for public information. 
It is not known if this ever came to fruition.
Today a plaque marks the site of Thomas Wilkins’ oak tree. However, it does not commemorate Wilkins, rather it commemorates Jane Ollington with the inscription, “Ollington Oak Tree.” 
How many descendants have travelled far and wide to marvel at a tree that had no connection whatsoever to Jane Ollington? How many have gone past along the Esplanade completely oblivious to the tree the “Grand Old Lady” had so carefully nurtured.  I know I have. And what about poor Mr Wilkins?
Jane Ollington was indeed a “Grand Old Lady” having lived to her 98th year. She was born in Stanley in 1844.
 The Coronation Oak Planted: Circular Head Chronicle 5 July 1939 p. 1
 The King’s Oak: Circular Head Chronicle 3 August 1938 p. 3
 Obituary - Mrs William Poke Senior Aged 98: Circular Head Chronicle 29 July 1942 p. 2
 Progress Association: Advocate 21 August 1953 p. 11
 Believed to have been installed by the Boy Scouts as a goodwill gesture possibly as late as the 1970s.
 Obituary Mrs J Poke: Examiner 28 July 1942 p 5
Jane Ollington with her husband, William Poke. Above right is the tree Jane Ollington planted, adjacent to a store where East Esplanade turns to join King Street in Smithton. At top of the page is the oak tree on Trowutta Road, Forest.
Peter L Cuttriss
Used to go past the Oak every day on my way to school 1955 till 65 and stopped for shade and a breather many times , collected many acorns , watched it grow into a great tree . I always have a nostalgic sit under it on trips back to Smithton and gaze at the glorieus Duck river .
How lucky you were! It is a beautiful spot.
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