Six pine trees with an ancestry which can be traced to Australia's most iconic battlefield formed part of a ceremony to celebrate the construction of a northern Sydney retirement living project reaching its highest point.

Vasey Communities Chairman Kate Gunton and CEO Graham Hooper jointly conducted the traditional construction ‘topping out’ ceremony for the Kokoda Residences at Waitara.

When complete in July 2022, the Kokoda Residences will be a 12-storey retirement village containing 117 apartments along with communal facilities such as a cinema, gym, open-air terrace and landscaped gardens.

Artist's impression of the Kokoda Residences at Waitara

One particularly significant and symbolic element of the ceremony was the fact it was conducted alongside six Aleppo pine trees. 

Aleppo pine trees were common, evergreen Mediterranean pines cleared for Turkish trenches in the Gallipoli battlefields, where around 8,141 Australian soldiers died in World War One.

One famous 1915 Gallipoli battle, Lone Pine, was named after a solitary Aleppo pine which was not cleared.

A lone pine at the Lone Pine ANZAC memorial at Gallipoli

After his brother died on the battlefield, an Australian Lance Corporal sent pine cones home to his mother in Australia who planted the seeds, raising two seedlings. 

One of the seedlings was sent to the Australian War Memorial to be planted in its grounds in honour of all sons who fell at Lone Pine ridge.

A forestry tube seedling program then designated the Aleppo pine for commemorative purposes.

Vasey Communities, which was formed after World War Two to advocate for war widows, received a seedling and planted it on the Waitara site.

Six seedlings from this pine tree, in turn, have since grown and formed part of the topping out ceremony.

The same plants will be located in the planned terrace gardens of Kokoda Residences.

It’s customary for trees to form part of building topping out ceremonies.

WMK Architects and Richard Crookes Constructions also took part in the ceremony.

Vasey Communities is named after its founder, Jessie Vasey, whose husband died in a military aircraft crash in northern Queensland in 1945.