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Tree risk

Beware of trees

Trees and limbs may fall unpredictably. Being under or near trees may be dangerous and could cause injury.

There are risks involved in being outdoors but there are things you can do to minimise the risk to you and others. One of the risks in Victoria's parks and reserves is trees falling or dropping limbs. Trees can drop limbs, or entire trees can fall, without warning and there is no way of determining when.


  • Be aware that it may be dangerous to set up camp, park your car and picnic under trees as limbs can swing out beyond the drip line (the edge of the canopy) of a tree.
  • Take extra care in hot or windy weather – or during severe weather events – these can be particularly dangerous.
  • Observe all warning signage
  • Stay well away from trees that appear to be dead or have dead limbs


  • Damage trees in any way, including cutting or marking them.
  • Climb trees or attach rope swings to trees.
  • Ignore tree risk!


Trees can be particularly prone to dropping a limb or falling when they are under stress. Tree stress can be caused by:

  • High wind
  • Extreme temperatures or sudden changes in temperature
  • Drought
  • Fire
  • Compaction
  • Flood

When a tree falls there is no way of predicting which way it will fall so being under or near trees may be dangerous and could cause injury.
A limb falling from a tree often does not fall straight down. The limbs may bounce against other limbs and swing out well beyond the drip line (the edge of the canopy) of the tree.

River Red Gums drop branches

River Red Gums are unique to the Australian bush and grow along the waterways as well as in other areas where water is not apparent at surface level. In fact River Red Gums are the most widespread eucalypt in Australia. They propagate when floodwaters run high and can live up to 700 years or more.

A feature of River Red Gums is that they drop their limbs in times of drought to conserve water. The hollows created by the falling of the limbs are ideal homes to a host of wildlife, making the River Red Gum a magical eco-system along the inland waterways of the Australian bush.

The Murray's River Red Gums are particularly prone to dropping large branches at any time without warning. This is why the safest place for all visitors to enjoy a rest, pitch their tent, park their car or have a picnic is in a clear area AWAY from large trees. However, the risk of falling limbs applies not only to River Red Gums, so be sure to stay well clear of ALL trees regardless of their type.

Be safe, not sorry

As there is no way to predict exactly when a tree might fall or drop a limb it is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.


These campers and visitors were lucky to escape unharmed when trees and limbs fell on their vehicles. You can see from the photographs how large some of the trees and limbs are, hence the importance in setting up camp and parking well away from trees.


This tree fell on New Years Day 2006 near Cobram. At the time the tree fell there was a person in the tent and luckily, the person was unharmed. This illustrates just how risky camping near trees can be.

For more information or advice on safer camping call the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or speak to a ranger on patrol.

Photo by Melissa Nicholls Click to view the news RSS feed.

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