The early road eastwards was the Old Passes Road and Knysna Road was known as the Victoria Bay road.It was an old wagon route which went only as far as Victoria Bay.
The avenue of gum trees along Knysna Road on the eastern side of George is the remnant of a green border that graced the old Victoria Bay road for many years, and is one of the fine features recalling the history of the 200 year old city.The trees are Eucalyptus ficifolia, the red flowering gum from Australia. It is a decorative tree, not a commercial forestry tree.Research by Lynne Thompson of the Outeniqua Historical Society indicates that the avenue along the old wagon route was planted about 1900.
The trees start flowering after six years, and may grow to hundreds of years old, bearing bunches of attractive flowers every year.In George the trees flower in spring.The avenue along the Victoria road was an impressive sight, and in 1939 the George Herald described the striking beauty of the gum trees, saying that more of the trees should be planted all over George to beautify the town.
Red flowering gum trees were planted in the grounds soon after the forestry college at Saasveld was started in 1934. A magnificent example may be seen right at the entrance to the Saasveld campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Following the government regulations on alien plants published 12 years ago, the planting of new flowering gums is not encouraged. But existing trees may remain, as they are not a threat to the environment. The George Heritage Trust has been asked to provide a set of its distinctive commemorative plaques at the CTM corner on Knysna Road, which marks the start of this fine reminder of the town’s heritage.