Bush Vandals should be ashamed – attack on H.D.Robb Reserve

UPDATE: WEPA is circulating a petition calling on Willoughby City Council to utilise all the powers to investigate and prosecute incidents of tree vandalism in our reserves available under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1978 and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.  A copy of the petition is available here.

This seems to be a problem spreading across Sydney – see a recent SMH article on the issue here.


Willoughby City Council has released photographs of a shocking attack on H.D.Robb reserve in Willowie Rd, Castle Cove.

H.D. Robb reserve is a special piece of bush within the Willoughby area, it is one of our more diverse reserves in terms of plant species, there are numerous threatened fauna species that depend on this bush for habitat and it is also an important connecting corridor to larger tracts of bush like Ku-ring-gai National Park which has allowed species like swamp wallabies and lyrebirds to recolonise our bushland in recent years.

The photos of some of the devastation are reproduced below.  Large mature trees, some over 80 years old, have been mutilated, poisoned and hacked to pieces.  What could possibly be the motive.  To the vandal or vandals who did this – how dare you!  You have stolen bushland of great natural beauty from the whole community which will take decades to fully regrow.

Species targeted included 2 mature trees, Angophora costatas, each with a girth of more than 3m (these trees are well over 80 years old) at least 15 mature Christmas bushes (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) the largest of which had a diameter of 30cm, 5 Old Man Banksias (Banksia serratas), countless Blueberry ashes (Elaeocarpus reticulatus), She Oaks (Allocasuarinas littoralis) Cheese Trees and Tea trees. Hidden under a Xanthorea Council found the remains of what the person used to carry out the attack.

Council investigations are underway to determine the perpetrators of this outrage.  If you, or anyone else you may know, have information regarding who is responsible for this vandalism please contact Willoughby City Council  – there are rewards (up to $10,000) for information leading to a successful prosecution.

WCC would like to remind you that if you are out in the bush or nearby and hear any suspect noises that may indicate this kind of vandalism do not approach the perpetrators. Ring Council’s number 9777 1000 and report it as soon as possible – this will be redirected to Council’s after-hours support service if outside our business hours. If you can safely take photos or videos, note down any licence plates of vehicles that may be associated with this work.

Our bushland reserves belong to the community and preserve the natural beauty of our region and our local wildlife.  Help stamp out this type of outrageous vandalism.


Willoughby City Council

Media Release


25 July 2023
Council Investigation into Castle Cove tree vandalism
Willoughby City Council has decided to launch a comprehensive investigation into a large scale tree vandalism event along Willowie Road under the Environmental Planning and Asssessment Act 1979.

Under this authority where a person is found guilty of an offence involving the destruction of or damage to a tree or vegetation, the court dealing with the offence may, in addition to the recording of a conviction and imposing a substantial financial fine also direct that person to plant new trees and vegetation and maintain those trees and vegetation to a mature growth.

Council rangers are actively pursuing leads and currently conducting a thorough investigation in an effort to gather vital evidence and engage with the community for information.

As part of an awareness campaign, banners will be erected in strategic locations to raise awareness about the severity of the tree loss and its impact on precious wildlife.

Willoughby Council urges anyone with information related to this incident to assist with our investigations.

Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor said that the community’s commitment to safeguarding our environment has always been solid.

“The Council bushland staff, members of our community and I are saddened to see the destruction caused by this blatant act of vandalism.”

“We will continue to work together to preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity that makes Castle Cove such a cherished place for all,” Cr Taylor said.

As part of the investigations, rangers will be visiting residents through door knocking and written communications throughout the coming weeks.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for any information leading to a successful prosecution of those responsible.

To report any incident or if you have any information please contact Willoughby City Council on 02 9777 1000 or email us email@willoughby.nsw.gov.au


For media inquiries and further information, please contact:
Willoughby City Council Public Relations Officer
P +61 2 9777 7696


Grove of mature cheese trees poisoned.

Evidence left behind.

Large angophora costa poisoned. 

Large tea tree cut down.

One of the larger banksia serratas cut.

The largest of the Christmas trees was poisoned.

The sign about the tree vandalism has been pulled out and thrown down the hill.


  1. Can we replant the area so that they don’t get the clearing that they want? Whatever reason they did this, there must be no benefits gained from this wanton destruction!! Stand resolute and thanks for fighting this fight. Communities everywhere are feeling frustrated when illegal tree removal is not punished!

  2. If this had been done by a developer on land they owned there would be a huge outcry. It is a pity the Police aren’t involved as the glove and poison bottle would give DNA and fingerprint evidence.

  3. We all agree this should be pursued and those responsible heavily fined, however I believe Willoughby Council should do far more to manage the bush surrounding Castle Cove from a fire hazard perspective. They have done almost nothing during the 40 odd years that I and my family have lived here. It’s a disgrace and dangerous situation we find ourselves in particularly since we are warned this year could be very hazardous.

  4. Truly disgusting behaviour. These people need to be found, cut down and poisoned. Fines or jail time aren’t enough for this kind of disrespectful behaviour.

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