Historical information

The spade is a memento of the planting of a tree by the responseible Commonealth Minister to recognise the contribution of ATCV and ATCV volunteers to repair of the Australian environment. At the time ATCV had been operating in Ballarat for six years.

ATCV volunteers had planted 192,000 trees from April 1987- March 1988.

Senator Richardson was then Minister for the Arts and the Environment in the Hawke ALP Government and on 17 November 1988 he planted a tree using this spade at Sovereign Hill Outdoor Museum (at which ATCV volunteers had planted trees which are (by 2010) fully grown and a significant feature of the site).

Peter Hiscock was director of Sovereign Hill as well as President of ATCV and among the most significant leaders of ATCV (now CVA). The spade also symbolises the recovery of ATCV (then a small and struggling community group) from near closure owing to the effects of the 1987 recession.

The Cyclone Sylvaspade concept was component project of the Australian Bicentennial celebrations aimed at recognising organisations which had contributed positively to conservation of Australia's environment. The concept was originated and driven by Dr Wilf Crane of the CSIRO Division of Forestry and a highly regarded forester and environmentalist and champion of the cause of rejuvenating Australia's degraded landscape with trees. At the naming of a road after him in Canberra he was described as a: "enthusiast, a man of conviction, action, humility and simplicity". Wilf conceived the project, developed the tree planting spade with Boral Cyclone and the Institute of Foresters of Australia and launched it with the then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephens at the new Parliament House.

Cyclone has been a brand name for a manufacturer of good quality hand tools for over a century. It is likely manufacturing was still done in Australia at the time of manufacture of the Sylvaspade. Much of it has now moved offshore, particuarly to China and Taiwan.


This object is historically significant because it is a memento of a significant national event, the 200th anniversary of European settlement and the start of a process of environmental change which has had negative consequences and which demands a commitment to conserving the uniques Australian national environment. It recognised the achievement of ATCV in tree planting over six years. The Cyclone Sylvaspade is a practical memento and having the responsible Commonwealth Minister plant a tree with it was highly symbolic of ATCV's practical commitment to repair of our environment all over Australia.

It was also used by the Victorian Premier, Hon John Brumby, to plant a tree at the reopening of the Boral Asphalt plant, Ballarat, in April 2010.

The spade is No. 12 of a limited edition.

Physical description

This item is a functional tree planting spade called a "Cyclone Sylvaspade", mounted on a block of wood with a plaque. The handle of the spade is made of grey plastic, the haft is light, stained wood, and the blade is manufactured to resemble silver and has engravings. It was donated by the Boral company and presented to ATCV by the Minister of Arts and the Environment, Senator Graham Richardson after he had planted a tree to mark the occasion at Sovereign Hill Outdoor Museum, Ballarat

Inscriptions & markings

On the stem of the spade here is a label showing the logo of the Boral company which reads "SYLVASPADE Tree Planting Spade - Made in Australia." On the blade is engraved "Cyclone - NUMBER 0012 - SYLVASPADE - 1788-1988" together with the logo of the Australian Bicentennial Authority. The spade is mounted on a sturdy polished wooden board on which there is a brass-coloured plate bearing the words: "PRESENTED BY SENATOR THE HON GRAHAM RICHARDSON TO AUSTRALIAN TRUST FOR CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERS IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT 17TH NOVEMBER 1988 DONATED BY BORAL LIMITED"