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Let’s Talk Business – Tony Wootton, Tree Surgeon

This month we are highlighting local arborist and author, Tony Wootton, who has been a tree surgeon across the hinterland since 1996.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Aspley in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, climbing anything I could. When I was 11, we moved to a small farm at Palmwoods. There were a couple of acres of rainforest there, and that is where I first fell in love with the big rainforest trees of our region. 

There were fallen red cedar giants covered in beautiful thick, green moss. like mossy highways through the rainforest, and I used to run along them. On some of the logs the whole root system had pulled out of the ground and was standing vertically upright and it just looked incredible to my eyes. I was fascinated by the complex intricate structure of the exposed roots. 

What drew you to this profession?

I was a qualified navigator in the merchant Navy on cargo ships for 16 years, but I was really not enjoying the life on the ships or being away from my young family, so I determined to find something that I loved doing and make that my job and find a way that that could serve people and become my new career. 

This led me to try music and massage, but it wasn’t until I started to get work in people’s gardens that I really started to earn some money and enjoy myself in a deeply satisfying way. I started following this path in 1996 by studying horticulture, and I met the Shire arborist Graham Prescott. From the very first moment I went up a tree in a harness, I was hooked. I had always loved climbing anything I could as a kid, so this seemed perfect for me.

What made you decide to base your business in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland?

I was already living in Maleny and had fallen in love with the place from the very first time I visited. I had developed a passion for the native forests of the plateau and the endemic species of trees and plants that grew there. Nothing could’ve been better than spending every day working with these beautiful organisms.

What does the typical day entail for you?

I like to start each day with practices that help me to centre myself and focus my mind, so if time permits, I try to meditate, do tai chi, and a gratitude practice. 

My team arrives at our depot at around 7am and begins to prepare our equipment for the work of the day which involves sharpening and greasing and cleaning all the tools and machinery and we aim to be at the job and start cutting at 8.30am.

Thankfully I have the most amazing team of beautiful humans that work with me, led by Jackson Wray. They are Jayven Philp, Jason Baker, and Will Durham. Jason, and Jackson are both qualified arborists, and Jayven is doing his apprenticeship. 

What is the most useful advice you could give someone about caring for their trees?

That’s quite simple, have them assessed regularly, particularly if they pose a potential threat to your property. Otherwise, you will suffer the consequences of neglecting that maintenance, just as you would suffer the consequences of not maintaining your car or your house.

Do you have any funny stories to tell from your work?

My family found it funny when I recounted the story of climbing a tree one day when I experienced a warm, foul, smelling liquid splashing into my face as I looked up, it was then that I realised that a possum had taken umbrage at my invasion of his personal space, and as a deterrent had decided to direct a stream of urine at my face. Undeterred, because there was nothing I could really do, I completed the pruning operation and came out of the tree, but no one came near me for the rest of the day!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

The last few years, my favourite thing has been to do Acro Yoga; you can Google it. I also like playing the guitar, performing at Maleny Lane occasionally under the stage name Debreezer, and surfing. 

Do you have a favourite quote which inspires you?

“Be the change, you want to see in the world.“

Tony Wootton can be found on Instagram ‘aboutthattree’, Facebook ‘Tony Wootton Tree Surgeon’, phone: 0403 467664 or via his website



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