Randwick City Council reveals truth behind removal of woolly bush near iconic Coogee Beach art project amid Facebook fury

A photograph of cut-down trees has sparked fury in a popular beachside suburb, forcing the local council to intervene after a rumour swirled out of control.

Outraged locals have vented their fury at a council’s removal of bushy trees from a popular beachside suburb, some claiming it was all over views being “obstructed”.

The social media drama unfolded on the Coogee and Randwick Local Loop Facebook group after a woman posted a picture of cleared vegetation near stairs at Coogee Beach.

“Apparently a flat owner complained that these beautiful big bushy trees were obstructing her view on the North end stairs at Coogee Beach. Therefore they were all destroyed. How can this happen?” The woman wrote in the post accompanying the photo.

It is understood the vegetation in question was woolly bush, a shrub native to Western Australia which grows up to 5m high.

The species is commonly found on coastal sandhills and outcrops between Albany and Esperance on the state’s south coast but can be grown in a range of conditions, according to WA’s Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority.

News of the shrub’s sudden removal from Coogee Beach drew criticism on the Facebook group.

One person claimed: “A council worker told me this morning and he is not impressed. She is an artist and said it is affecting her painting view.”

Another bemoaned losing the “beautiful” trees while having to “stare at stairs”.

But Randwick City Council told NCA NewsWire the plants were simply being replaced with “lower-growing vegetation” to preserve the view lines from a nearby local artwork, known as the Impressionists’ Seat.

The council’s response was also posted in reply to the woman’s original post in the Facebook group.

The well-known Coogee artwork, designed by sculptor Eileen Slarke in 2009, depicts famous Australian impressionist artists Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and Tom Roberts – all of whom painted famous landscapes of Coogee Beach in the late 1800s.

“The artwork is designed for people to take in the same scenic vistas as depicted in a number of impressionist artworks produced of Coogee Beach in the late 1800s,” a council spokesman said.

The trio were from the Heidelberg School art movement of the late 19th century.

Some locals also voiced discontent with the initial Facebook post.

“It is to do with Coogee’s history. Nothing to do with a view or an artist wanting to paint,” one woman wrote in response.

“The chair was there long before the shrubs. It is a shame they were not relocated rather than destroyed.”

Randwick City Council’s website states work is regularly undertaken on trees or vegetation planted on public land for reasons that can include pedestrian and vehicle safety, or for improving line of sight and clearing for buildings and new services.

“We do not prune trees within private property, but we may serve notice on property owners to prune or remove trees and other vegetation encroaching onto public land,” the council’s website states.

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