Generations of children have plunged into the depths of the Murrumbidgee River from the dizzying heights of the famed 'jump' tree. But alas, no more.
The tree on the banks of the river across from The Rocks has now plunged into the river itself. Its snapped remains now protrude from the waters below.
When he was a teenager at Kooringal High School in the 1980s, Bede Seymour remembers the acute bragging rights that accompanied a jump from the tree.
"We've been going down there since I was 15 or 16, but there used to be a few trees. There was a pine tree, [another] tree, they're long gone. This was the last tree standing," Mr Seymour recalls.
Mr Seymour said he was "almost in tears" to hear of the tree's demise this week.
"It was a ritual to go there. The lowest branch was about three metres, you'd check the water beforehand and it was pretty safe from there," he said.
"There was a branch that was 10 or 12 metres high. We'd climb up during the old Gumi Races and bomb the gumis from above."
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Now living in Sydney, Mr Seymour makes a regular return to Wagga and has recently introduced a new generation of family members to the river jump ritual.
"Even at Christmas we went down there, me, my kids and my nieces and nephews," Mr Seymour said.
"Introducing my teenage kids to it was great. At least they got a go, I guess. I think they'll miss it."
Having also now moved away from the city, former resident Callum William described the tree as "the most iconic landmark in Wagga".
Around 2003, he took his first plunge and returned only two weeks ago for what turned out to be his final drop from its branches.
"I never lost my love for the jump tree and up until last week, it was the first place I'd take out-of-town visitors," Mr William said.
The best thing about the tree, Mr William recalls, was the natural camaraderie fostered around it.
"I remember spending countless summer afternoons swimming out to the tree with my friends, braving the climb to the top and leaping into the river below," he said.
"It had an amazing sense of community, kids that you'd never met before became your best mates when you were up there together, encouraging each other to jump from higher and higher and working together to keep the rope swing-in action.
"The jump tree was the perfect place to spend a few hours on a hot day, it brought out the best qualities in people and its collapse is an enormous loss for the town."
Swimming against the currents to reach it, even getting from The Rocks to the tree was its own achievement. But the biggest bragging rights came from landing a perfect 'jackknife' or 'horsey' dive.
At times though, that would leave the diver with more than just a story to tell, as another former Wagga river swimmer, Fibonaci Gilly recalls.
"Many near misses [happened from the tree] including flipping from the top branch and over-flipping on a somersault only to belly flop into the water. That leaves a nasty bruise," Mr Gilly said.
"We spent most of our summers jumping from the tree and floating down to the beach only to do it all again."
He and his friends would frequent the tree as teenagers around 2003 to 2007.
One friend, Mr Gilly recalls, even lost his nerve and spent two hours high in the branches, refusing to come down until he could muster the courage to jump into the water.
Farren Williams also spent much of his childhood around the tree before he moved away from Wagga four years ago.
"So much of my childhood growing up in Wagga revolves around that river but that tree, in particular, was the best tree to jump out of," he said.
"No matter how many times the river flooded and dried up it always held the depth, a lot of the river changed but that spot didn't."
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Recalling it was "not for the faint of heart", Mr Williams and his friends even skipped school to spend more time at the tree when they were in early high school.
To ensure they would be remembered for having climbed to the absolute top of the tree when it stood in its glory back in the early 2000s, they carved their names into the top branches.
"One memory, in particular, was getting to the highest part you could possibly get to on it and you had to bear-hug the tree and climb up it like a koala to get up there," Mr Williams said.
"While up there you would see the churches and countless people over the other side starting their float down towards the beach.
"I used to stand at the highest point and fall straight back to do a free-falling backflip. If you did it wrong you would slap the water so hard it would take the wind out of you for at least half an hour."
Though not the first tree to be bestowed the honorary title of 'jump tree', it will be sorely missed. Another tree will have to take its place as river swimmers seek to continue the Murrumbidgee ritual.
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