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A pair of “ghost gum” trees in Australia’s outback made famous by an Aboriginal artist have been destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

The trees, regarded by indigenous leaders as living spirits, had been due to be added a national heritage register as they are widely viewed as a symbol of Australian identity.

Northern Territory Minister for Indigenous Advancement, Alison Anderson said: “It’s just really, really sad I guess for us as a nation, as a territory to see the trees burned down, because, like I said, it is the last connection to the great man.”

Artist Albert Namatjira is credited with bringing ghost gums to wider public conciousness.

The native trees feature in Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and are named for their white bark that glows in moonlight.

Authorities believe the fire was likely deliberately lit. Susan McCulloch, author of McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper the destruction of the ghost gums was “appalling and a tragic act of
cultural vandalism”.

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