Part 9


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1994 - PLANTINGS 1 AND 2

1st Planting - 15 May 1994

This is historically one of the first photos taken at the first planting. The photo was taken by Jo Gillis, who came from Adelaide to be present at the planting. The idea came from Mannie De Saxe's first long-time care - Jo's brother Jon Eylward, who died on 17 November 1992 aged 36. The photo was taken on 15 May 1994.

Sydney Park, a newly developing park, belonging to South Sydney City Council, and who have a nursery at the southern end, and given us permission to plant trees in a specific area where there are no trees at present. The ground was prepared and the trees provided, at no cost to us, by the Nursery. Jo Gillis is planting a tree in memory of her brother Jon Eylward.

Friends who came to plant trees, and the newly planted area which we filled with about 700 small saplings and recorded many names of people who had died of AIDS.

We have established a file for us to record the names and messages and at this first planting there were 290 names entered in the file.

2nd Planting - 28 August 1994

Arriving early to prepare for the day ahead - Council Nursery had already prepared the area and provided the young saplings for the day's plantings.

Our second planting, and the weather was fantastic - warm and clear -which was very encouraging. The crowd was not as large as at the first planting, but we estimate we probably had about 70 to 80 people coning and going during the day. We were there from 10am to 5pm and probably planted between 400 and 500 trees.

People ask where to plant trees and also how to plant them, so we show them where and how. In the middle of the day, members of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) who have been offering us support since our first planting, do a "Blessing of the Trees", and, as Mannie is an honorary Rabbi of the Order, he helps with the Blessing.

Members of OPI plant trees as well as provide the Tree Blessing.

When ACT UP collapsed in 1994 we formed a new AIDS Action Group which unfirtunately lasted less than a year. At this planting the new banner for that group is shown.

The records file showed 151 names entered for this second tree planting.

1995 - PLANTINGS 3, 4 AND 5

3rd Planting - 25 June 1995

Photos by Ken Lovett/Mannie De Saxe

This planting had a rather sad and unfortunate history. South Sydney City Council allocated this area, next to the Old Brickworks, as our planting site for the day. We were provided with mainly bottlebrushes and a few other Australian natives and had a most successful day. The trees grew well, and very few died, so it seemed a good achievement. However, a few years later without consulting us or even asking or telling us, Council decided the area was to be a car park, and this planting site was totally destroyed and paved over for the car park.

The records file showed 89 names entered for this 3rd tree planting.

4th Planting - 2 September 1995

Planting 4

The records file showed 17 names entered for this 4th tree planting.

5th Planting - 5 November 1995

The records file showed 23 names entered for this 5th tree planting.

1996 - PLANTINGS 6, 7 AND 8

6th Planting - 2 June 1996

The photos show that the weather was perfect for the 6th SPAIDS planting with many people taking advantage of the weather to plant trees to commemorate friends, family, loved ones, community activists, and the trees were blessed by Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence.

At the end of our planting day we visited the site of our 3rd planting and found the young trees doing very well. This made it all the more distressing when South Sydney City Council later demolished this site and replaced it with a car park. SPAIDS was not consulted and we were very upset when we found out. Not only was a memorial area gone, but some of those having been commemorated here had even had ashes planted under trees. When we told the people involved, they were, rightly, devastated!

The records file showed 61 names entered for this 6th tree planting.

7th Planting - 18 August 1996

Another perfect weather day! Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence make preparations and then sing the song which is the "Blessing of the Trees". This song was arranged by Mother Abyss of the OPI, who conducted the ceremony.

The records file showed 102 names entered for this 7th tree planting.

8th Planting - 13 October 1996

The records file showed 45 names entered for this 8th tree planting.

1997 - PLANTINGS 9, 10 AND 11

9th Planting - 1 June 1997

The weather forecast said rain was expected, but the day started with a fair amount of sunshine, and so was more promising than we had feared. Apart from a few drops of rain, the morning weather was fine, but in the afternoon it got cold and windy! No Sisters of the OPI came to do the Tree Blessing.

The records file showed 56 names entered for this 9th tree planting.

10th Planting - 24 August 1997

A bright, clear sky started the day with an icy wind blowing! The icy wind blasted everything around at the Park and we realised we would be better sheltered at the bottom of the hill, below the planting areas and next to Council's Nursery. We had a good turnout and the day went well except for the weather, but at least it didn't rain!

The records file showed 45 names entered for this 10th tree planting.

11th Planting - 12 October 1997

The records file showed 17 names entered for this 11th tree planting.

1998 - PLANTINGS 12, 13 AND 14

Early in 1998 we learned that South Sydney City Council was to erect signage demarcating the AIDS Groves, so we went to the Park to see the signs, and saw them lying on the ground, ready to be erected. A few weeks later the temporary signs were in place, and this is what they looked like:

----------and this is how the Groves looked at the time:

12th Planting - 31 May 1998

A mild and pleasant day, with some clouds which looked threatening, but didn't turn into anything. A good turnout with people coming in large groups. 5 members of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence came to do the official "Blessing of the Trees". We planted more than 600 trees, and had one of our most successful days so far.

The records file showed 66 names entered for this 12th tree planting.

13th Planting - 26 July 1998

What a terrible day this was - the weather was appalling, with heavy, soaking rain,and cold as well! Mud and slush prevailed all day. We don't think more than 10 people came the whole day. The planting area we had was a very bad one, mostly rock, rubble, bricks, concrete, dreadful soil. Despite the weather we planted about 150 trees, so the day was not totally wasted. We have had one or two bad days, weather-wise, but this has been the worst so far!

The records file showed 9 names entered for this 13th tree planting.

14th Planting - 30 August 1998

Pity the weather isn't always as good as today's - a few clouds, but mild and warm and generally very pleasant. Reasonable turnout by the end of the day.

The records file showed 16 names entered for this 14th tree planting.

1999 - PLANTINGS 15. 16 AND 17

15th Planting - 6 June 1999

There were clouds early on, but they cleared later. No wind early, but after 1pm it became colder and windier - but no rain!! We were allocated our first planting area and surrounds to do back-planting. We had a very small turnout, but managed to plant over 200 trees.

Our third planting area has been all dug up, and the whole area is being redone as a car park, so all those trees have gone, including those which had ashes buried beneath them!

The records file showed 24 names entered for this 15th tree planting.

16th Planting - 25 July 1999

Arbor Day and Local Government Week. Early morning sunshine gave way to clouds. It started blowing icily, and raining. This continued on and off all morning till about 1pm when the clouds diminished somewhat and the sun came out, and no more rain for the rest of the day!

We estimate that between 30 and 40 people came, the afternoon went well after the morning rain, and we planted 300 to 400 trees. All in all, a satisfactory day after a slow beginning.

The records file showed 28 names entered for this 16th tree planting.

17th Planting - 5 September 1999

Earth Alive By Diversity Month. The weather started well, but became overcast and miserable. Rain early on plus wind and the weather was a disaster! At lunch time it cleared and the afternoon was lovely, but very few people came and we were very disappointed. So we didn't manage to plant many trees - one of our worst days yet!

The records file showed 11 names entered for this 17th tree planting.

2000 - PLANTINGS 18, 19 AND 20

18th Planting - 28 May 2000

The day was very bright and clear, very windy and quite cold. Small turnout - probably about 15 throughout the day. Strong winds all day and getting colder all afternoon! Even with a small crowd we managed to plant about 200 trees.

The records file showed 15 names entered for this 18th tree planting.

19th Planting - 2 July 2000

The day dawned bright and clear, then clouds gathered and we feared the worst! As luck had it, the day got better and better, and also quite warm. The turnout was not very good - about 20 altogether with a small increase towards the end of the afternoon. About 500 trees were planted - 400 to start with and then they brought another 100 and they got planted as well!

The records file showed 13 names entered for this 19th tree planting.

20th Planting - 6 August 2000

Bright and sunny early in the day, so it looked promising, but then clouds built up and rain seemed possible. The day started very slowly with very few people, but built up and we ended up with about 35 having come during the day. There was fortunately no rain, but a wind from early afternoon raised the "chill-factor" somewhat. Planted probably between 300 and 400 trees - not a bad day after all!

The records file showed 22 names entered for this 20th tree planting.

2001 - PLANTINGS 21, 22 AND 23

21st Planting - 27 May 2001

This was the day on which the plaque commemorating the dedication of the Reflection Area was unveiled and our 21st planting took place. The day's ceremonies were rounded off by a blessing of the Reflection Area by Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI).

Mannie thanking the OPI for their blessings, to South Sydney City Council for providing us with the Reflection Area, and to all who helped make the day the success it was.

27 MAY 2001

Recording (by Michael Schembri of Gaywaves) of Mannie De Saxe's Speech at the Dedication of Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves REFLECTION AREA:


Ken and Mannie enjoying the success of their negotiations with the Council to provide SPAIDS with a Reflection Area - a meeting place for rest and contemplation and remembering.

The records file showed 18 names entered for this 21st tree planting.

22nd Planting - 29 July 2001

The records file showed 7 names entered for this 22nd tree planting.

23rd Planting - 2 September 2001

The records file showed 0 names entered for this 23rd tree planting.

2002 - PLANTINGS 24, 25 AND 26

24th Planting - 26 May 2002

The above 4 photos show the SPAIDS Reflection Area one year after it was established

We did not go up to Sydney for this planting but very few people turned up - about 6 altogether - so the day was not very good! In fact no names were entered in the book!

The records file showed 0 names entered for this 2th tree planting.

25th Planting - 28 July 2002

Very good planting weather but there was some wind. For this planting 32 names were entered in the book.

The records file showed 32 names entered for this 25th tree planting.

26th Planting - 8 September 2002

About 17 people came during the day and 9 names were entered in the book.

2003 - PLANTINGS 27, 28 AND 29

(pause of 19 seconds before interview begins!)

Interview (By Uma Khali Shakti of Gaywaves) of Mannie talking about SPAIDS and the 2003 Plantings

The records file showed 9 names entered for this 26th tree planting.

27th Planting - 25 May 2003

The records file showed 17 names entered for this 27th tree planting.

28th Planting - 27 July 2003

Temporary signage still in place in 2003

The Reflection Area in 2003

Part of the SPAIDS Groves looking down from the hill above the Reflection Area

The records file showed 17 names entered for this 28th tree planting.

29th Planting - 21 September 2003

The records file showed 17 names entered for this 29th tree planting.

2004 - PLANTING 30

30th Planting - 25 July 2004

This cake was made by two of our long-time supporters and helpers, Fiona and Rebecca, to celebrate our 30th planting on 25 July 2004.

SPAIDS 30 was a beautiful day, and the turnout to plant trees in the Groves was large as befitted our 30th planting! Sitting under the tent in the top right-hand photo was Marie Fisher, who died in November 2008, seen talking to Fiona, one of the cake-makers shown above.

The records file showed 24 names entered for this 30th tree planting.

2005 - PLANTING 31

31st Planting - 31 July 2005

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, visits the 31st SPAIDS planting to commemorate those she has known and helped, befriended, and worked with, who have died of AIDS. Clover was involved with people living with HIV/AIDS from the time she was elected to the NSW State Parliament as the member for Bligh, and also as Lord Mayor of Sydney City Council.

Ken Lovett works with Clover as she plants a commemorative tree, and then Roy Bishop and Ken Lovett stand by as Clover writes names and messages in the SPAIDS book.

We had perfect weather for the planting on this Sunday, and we had a good turnout of people who planted about 300 trees.

The records file showed 25 names entered for this 31st tree planting.

2006 - PLANTING 32

32nd Planting - 30 July 2006

The records file showed 21 names entered for this 32nd tree planting.

2007 - PLANTING 33

33rd Planting - 29 July 2007

Photo of Reflection Area by Phillip Whitefield, 29 July 2007

The records file showed 19 names entered for this 33rd tree planting.

2008 - PLANTING 34

34th Planting - 27 July 2008

The above 5 photos were taken by Ken Lovett on 30 July 2008

The records file showed 25 names entered for this 34th tree planting.

2009 - PLANTING 35

23 JULY 2009

Interview with Doug Pollard - Freshly Doug on Joy Radio about Fairfield AIDS Memorial Garden

The interview also includes information about the SPAIDS plantings, and the second half discusses the federal government's homophobia in relation to same-sex relationships issues.

35th Planting - 2 August 2009


Sydney on Sunday 2 August 2009 sparkled with a beautiful spring morning. The sun shone, there was no wind, and the morning augured well for the whole of the tree-planting day.

When we arrived at the Park at 10am the Parks people had already set up our tent, table and chairs and provided planting equipment, gloves, water and small trees laid out where the Sydney City Council wanted us to back-plant areas where trees have died over the years.SPAIDS has been planting for 15 years and the Council has been busy resurrecting the Park for about 20 years from its previous incarnations as a Brickworks and later a garbage dump.It is quite incredible to see what has grown there and how the Park has been developed when one remembers how barren it was when we started in 1994 and how full of rubble and other garbage pollutants were the areas where we did our first plantings.

Now, 15 years later, the Park has some wetlands with ducks and many other native water birds coming to places where no birds were seen or heard.

With the perfect weather and the Council providing us with a barbecue at about midday, we had between 60 and 70 visitors during the day to plant trees, and by the end of the day about 300 trees had been planted. Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence continued their tradition of many years by blessing the trees and commemorating those we wish to remember by the plantings in the Groves. Here is the Blessing, delivered this year by Sister Mary Mary Quite Contrary:


WELCOME to all of you who here today in this glorious spring weather. Thank you for joining Mannie & Ken in this Memorial Project.

Firstly, let us INTRODUCE ourselves - I am Sister Mary Mary Quite Contrary and .......[repeat all round for the other members of the OPI who were present]

I'm sure you all know by now that when we mention the Holy Dingo [APHF] you should respond by calling out “all praise her feralness”. Try it now “Holy Dingo” {wait for response}.

We thank the HD {All Praise Her Feralness} for pissing down her blessings on this place to soften the ground, and also for having a sleep in this morning so we can do some planting.

As you all know, these groves are a living reminder to us that those who have passed away from us, and are not forgotten by us. They also remind us - and more importantly others in the community - that HIV/AIDS is still around and the safe sex message must not go un-heeded. Even though he has left it is still relevant to say 'the pope is wrong - put a condom on'.

We ask the HD {All Praise Her Feralness} to cast her blessings on you for helping us plant these trees and maintain the groves. And continuing to support the efforts of Mannie & Ken.

Not only do they provide us a quiet place for reflection and recreation, they also seem to provide a place for putting the safe sex message into practice (judging by our annual rubber harvest). It is a wonderful transformation from industrial wasteland to urban forest. And it is good to see that it is being used in many ways by many people.

{with incest & sprinkling by water}

* We cast our blessings upon Mannie & Ken for their tireless work. May they have strength to continue for many more trips to the dubious climate of Sydney.
* We cast our blessings on you and your loved ones for the trees you plant. May your fond memories endure.
* We cast our blessings on the council gardens workers for growing the seedlings and looking after the park. May the council treat them generously.
* We cast our blessings on the tools for planting the trees. May they smoothly cut the rocky ground.
* And we cast our blessings on the trees, May they grow strong and tall.

May the blessings of the HD {All Praise Her Feralness} be showered on you all.

(End of Blessing)

Mannie responded by thanking the OPI and the friends, families, lovers and others present for commemoration by planting trees in the SPAIDS Groves. (End of thanks)

We know that some of the saplings will die, but we also know that many will survive and add to the beauty of the Groves as they look today. We also know that the numbers of people who have died from AIDS has dropped dramatically in the last 10 years, so the numbers commemorated in our Remembrance Book are significantly less than in those early years. We hope the numbers dying from HIV/AIDS will diminish altogether in the years to come, and the Groves will be there to remember them all over time.

We had a visit from the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore MP and she planted a few trees to remember those friends of hers in the gay community who had died over the years from AIDS.

Photo by Roy Bishop

As Sydney and San Francisco are sister cities we feel related to the National AIDS Memorial Garden in Golden Gate Park because it helped to inspire our Groves and assist with negotiations with Council all those many years ago to create an AIDS Memorial Grove in Sydney.

One of our many interstate visitors this year was a special friend from Adelaide, South Australia. When I became an AIDS carer in 1992 one of my first long-term cares was this person’s brother, and we became friends from then on. For Sunday’s planting day she brought with her a plaque specially made for us to place at the foot of the tree she planted to remember her brother who died in 1992, and who was the inspiration for our AIDS groves to remember friends and people we had cared for who died so young and in such large numbers in the worst years of the epidemic in Australia. We had a memorial ceremony after the plaque had been put in position.

Photos of the plaque and our friend are attached. There are also photos of the Lord Mayor at work and others showing where many of the young trees were planted on the day.

Our Reflection Area continues to be our focal point, and we are pleased that the Council has seen fit to continue to signpost the Groves.

The records file showed 26 names entered for this 35th tree planting.

2011 - PLANTING 36

31 JULY 2011

Sunday 31 July 2011 was a beautiful, bright, clear, calm day and we hoped for a large turnout of friends, but we didn't get as many attendances as at previous plantings. The Council used to provide trees and support until about 3pm, but now this has been cut back to between 1.30pm and 2.00pm, and Council has cleared everything away by 2pm. Any latecomers don't have any plants left to put in the ground, so they have to make do with the fact that those who were there planted more than one for those they were remembering.

As usual we paused for lunch which Council provided and the Tree Blessing was done at this time.

The Blessing of the Trees has been a tradition since the beginning of SPAIDS on 15 May 1994. There was a standard format for the Blessing which was sung, but that has been changed in recent years to a different format to accommodate those amongst us who don't sing very well!! This was the Blessing prepared by Sister Mary Mary Quite Contrary for the 36th SPAIDS Tree Planting on 31 July 2011. The Blessing was read out by MMQC himself.

SPAIDS Blessing


Hello & intros

Good morning to all. Welcome to the Sydney Park AIDS Memorial planting on landthat was traditionally under the custodianship of the Gadigal people of the EoraNation. We are Sisters from the Order of Perpetual Indulgence. My name isSrMMQC. And these are ...(introductions followed)

Weather Report

We have arranged some wet weather to soften the ground, and a nice warm springday for the planting. We hope you find today's conditions acceptable. Lunch isavailable down the hill with the other groups. You can all get back to your plantingafter our brief blessing.

OPI Guardians

The OPI has taken an interest in this project from the beginning, not just becauseSaint Kendall the Constant and his consort Mannie are the driving force behind it. Wekeep an eye on it, and the goings-on here. The Council, local Police area commanderand others know this through the activities of The Beat Project and the ABD. So wehope that it will be a safe place for all to enjoy.

Loved ones lost

Today we are here to plant trees in memory of loved ones lost. AIDS has taken manyfrom us, and we build these groves to be a living reminder of their lives. Plantingthese trees, and watching them grow gives us a chance to reflect on them. TheReflection Space here -> is somewhere we can come to meditate in peacefulsurroundings. So the growing trees reinforce our memories, and keep them fresh - notfaded.

incense people

We bless you all with incense for your attendance and support. We hope yourmuddied hands and knees will wash clean, and that the pains in your backs will bebrief. A special extra whif of incense goes to Mannie & Ken for their hard work inestablishing these groves.

incense trees

We bless the trees with incense in the hope that they will grow tall and strong. We hope they will provide a haven for wildlife, and that birdsong will lift our spirtis here.

The records file showed 22 names entered for this 36th tree planting.

2012 - PLANTING 37

29 JULY 2012

The day started with beautiful weather - bright sunshine and fairly mild. However, by midday a cold wind had come up and kept the temperature down to 16 degrees or less, as the chill factor made it feel as if it was about 10 degrees!!

During the 4 hours we were there about 54 people came to plant trees, and this included a photographer, Ann-Marie Callihanna, from the Star Observer, who took many photos. Many thanks to the Star Observer and Ann-Marie for such a good selection!


The above photos were taken at SPAIDS 37 by Ken Lovett

The records file showed 10 names entered for this 37th tree planting.

Click on the following link to see the complete record of names collected since the first planting on 15 MAY 1994


Return to SPAIDS Page


15 MAY 2015




This is historically one of the first photos taken at the first planting. The photo was taken by Jo Gillis, who came from Adelaide to be present at the planting. The idea came from Mannie De Saxe's first long-time care - Jo's brother Jon Eylward, who died on 17 November 1992 aged 36. The photo was taken on 15 May 1994.

Even though there has been no public SPAIDS
tree planting since the 37th on Sunday, July 27th
2012 –and none planned for 2015—because the
groves are fully planted, we thought it would be
a nice idea to remember SPAIDS 21st Birthday
with a greetings card to all of you who have been
supporters and long-time friends of the SPAIDS
project, from Mannie and Kendall.

Photos of the Groves
Dates of Plantings


Photos of the Groves in 2004 and a few historic comparisons

COMPLETE PAGE CONTENTS - find the page you want at a click!


Australian AIDS Quilt Web Site - Part 1 - Blocks 1 to 40

Australian AIDS Quilt Web Site - Part 2 - Blocks 41 to 80

Australian AIDS Quilt Web Site - Part 3 - Blocks 81 to 120

World AIDS Day Australia

HIV/AIDS ISSUES PART 5 (Quilt Displays)



Mannie has a personal web site: RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM

Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:

MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009

RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)

This page updated on 24 FEBRUARY 2015 and again on 9 JANUARY 2019

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