The Wishing Tree

For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about a tree. This one, in Centennial Park, Sydney. Massive, gnarled, its limbs untidy, stretching skywards and snagging those walking underneath.

In January 2013, Centennial Park left little tags for people to write their wishes on and tie them to the tree. They imagined a couple of hundred tags might be used. 

Instead, in under a week, nearly 8,000 wishes were tied to that tree.

Then this happened.

Sydney chucked a hissy fit with a massive three day storm. The wishes made it through - mostly.

I arrived at the tree too late to leave a wish, but stopped and read the wishes with lots of other people. So many wishes - in neat print; a child's hand; wobbly cursive and tightly packed capitals. 

I remember a few. I wish I could ride an elephant to school; I wish my daughter would speak to me; I wish I passed my last exams; I wish he hadn't left.

The tree connected people to themselves, to others, to the shared hopes and fears we all have but keep quiet. 

I wonder if leaving a tag on the tree was a type of unburdening, and if reading the tags felt the same way? If part of the magic was getting lost in a sea of wishes, and realising that they are not that far from your own. 

The idea of a wishing tree goes back centuries in many cultures - where the term "touch wood" comes from in English. Turns out it's an ancient ritual to tie wishes to trees in public places. 

Ever seen a wishing tree like this one, or left a wish in a public place? 

*Photos via Centennial Parklands


  1. I've only seen them in photos but think they're a beautiful idea.

  2. Aren't they beautiful? This one was really powerful I thought. Thanks for dropping by!



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