Touching reason outback tree is filled with dozens of bras

·News Reporter
·3-min read

It's a barren stretch of road between Broken Hill and Mildura, in NSW's far west, with little to see other than vast stretches of parched, dust-covered land.

But roughly 50km south of the famous outback mining town of Broken Hill stands a tree that grabs the attention of anyone passing by.

Well known to locals and a recurring attraction in tourist reviews of the area, the aptly named 'Bra Tree' has been a conversation starter for a decade thanks to its multi-coloured, underwear-filled branches.

But how exactly does such an inconspicuous tree in the middle of nowhere accumulate so many bras?

The tree pictured from a distance and a close up of the bras hanging from branches.
The tree near Broken Hill is routinely filled with a range of colourful bras. Source: Reddit - autumnchan11 / Supplied

That's where local woman Maree Kester comes in. 

"She really lived life to the fullest," her best friend Allyson Verbugt recalled to Yahoo News Australia.

Maree, who was a deputy principal at a local public school, passed away from cancer in 2011 aged 57.

Allyson is part of a network of motorbike enthusiasts of which Maree was a part of. On one ride through Western Australia, Maree noticed a tree with bras in it and had always said she wanted the group to create their own. 

A common misconception is that Maree had breast cancer, however she in fact died from the pancreatic form.

A group of women replace bras on the tree on the Silver City Highway.
The group replacing the bras one year. Source: Supplied
A man climbs a ladder to hang a bra on the tree.
The Bra Tree is one of the most recognisable points on the southern end of the Silver City Highway. Source: Supplied

"That's what people think, but to me cancer is a cancer and it's a bastard of a thing anyway and you have no control over it," Allyson said. 

"Hers was really quick, she was diagnosed in late 2010 and she passed away in the March of 2011."

The tree becomes iconic to the town

The tree's stature in society has grown over the years and Maree's friends ride there each year in March to replace the tattier bras.

"We get our husbands to go up the ladder and change the ones at the top," Allyson laughed.

"I come home from work somedays and there's bags of bras for the tree on my verandah... people know it's for the bra tree, it's really good."

The tree's importance to the community is such that when it found itself directly in line with a new water pipeline being installed in 2018, Water NSW confirmed it would work out a way to go around the tree.

Maree pictured with Allyson's husband Paul. Source: Supplied
Maree pictured with Allyson's husband Paul. Source: Supplied

"They dug out all these other trees as they were going in a straight line but they made sure our tree stayed there," Allyson fondly remembers.

And while Maree never stated where she wished the tree to be, "the girls", as Allyson calls the female members of the group, browsed the Silver City Highway on their bikes following her death, with the road being one of their more common routes.

"We knew this tree was there. It was close to the road and could be seen easily," Allyson recalled.

Ten years later, Allyson and the group are as passionate about the tree as ever, and they say they're looking forward to continuing the tradition over the next decade.

And for anyone who passes by bamboozled by a bunch of bras hanging from a tree, a few years after they began they erected a sign to help with the confusion.

'In memory of Maree Kester', it reads.

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