Just to the left of Royal Perth Golf Club’s 9th tee, amongst a grove of greenery, stands a bright blue tree.
If you’re ever lucky enough to play at Exmouth Golf Club you’ll see another bright blue tree, standing out in stark contrast to the red earth of the Gascoyne region.
A similar sight greets you as you walk the fairways of Geraldton Golf Club, an old tree that has been painted bright blue standing proudly alongside the fairway.
These blue trees make for an unexpected sight during a round of golf, yet they are helping to spread an important message of mental health awareness and more importantly, hope.
The Blue Tree Project originated in the small Wheatbelt town of Mukinbudin. Their mission is simple; help spark difficult conversations and encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns.
Trees have since been painted across the country, including in remote locations in the Northern Territory and New South Wales.
Colette Nalder, Royal Perth’s Women’s Vice-Captain, and Peter Anderson, General Committee Member, were the driving forces behind Royal Perth’s decision to paint their very own blue tree.
A former Wheatbelt local herself, Colette first discovered the work of the Blue Tree Project whilst playing golf in the bush.
“The tree is a symbol of hope that helps to promote the message of mental health awareness,” Colette said.
“The hope is that our members will see the tree and feel comfortable to start a conversation about mental health or ask for help if they need it.”
Royal Perth Golf Club General Manager, Brad Dawson, was more than happy to support the Blue Tree Project.
“The project is a fantastic initiative that has the potential to start powerful conversations within our golf club. I’m proud of the committee for taking on this project and I hope the tree offers a message of hope to our members,” Dawson said.
Darrell Olds wears many hats when he is at Exmouth Golf Club. He’s a member, the course caretaker, the sponsor of the club’s Mental Health Golf Day and the mastermind behind Exmouth GC’s very own blue tree.
Mental health awareness is a cause close to home for Darrell who has witnessed first-hand the impact it can have.
When Darrell first discovered the Blue Tree Project on Facebook, he instantly recognised the potential of the project. The simple act of painting a dead tree bright blue could help promote the mental health message and act as a conversation starter within the small community of Exmouth.
“Years ago, we wouldn’t talk about stuff like this [mental health], it wasn’t something that you did.” Darrell reflected.
“The beauty of the blue tree is that it acts as a conversation starter and it helps to get the mental health message out there.”
Darrell’s efforts in sponsoring and running the annual Mental Health Golf Day highlight his commitment to raising awareness of mental health.
Exmouth Golf Club has raised in excess of $1,000 both years that the event has been run with these funds being donated to Beyond Blue. Beyond Blue is an Australian independent non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental disorders.
Royal Perth Golf Club, Geraldton Golf Club and Exmouth Golf Club hope the simple act of spreading some blue paint on a few old trees will help to spread the message that “it’s OK to not be OK.”
Next time you’re down at your golf club, take a minute to check on your mates and fellow members. A quick conversation may make a bigger difference than you could imagine. And if you’re ever struggling with your own mental health issues, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help.
If you or someone you know needs help, call: