The parents of Matthew Leveson have returned to the site where their son’s body was found to plant trees on what would have been his birthday.
“Matty would have been 31 today so he would have been stoked National Parks and Wildlife are doing this in honour of him,” said his mother Faye Leveson.
Matthew Leveson went missing in September 2007.
Ten years after the 20-year-old’s disappearance, his remains were excavated from under a palm tree in May.
Weeks of intensive excavations during the search for Matthew left parts of the national park bare and damaged.
“The area’s been moonscaped, badly damaged and the poor plants haven’t come back and we are so grateful having rejuvenation on Matt’s birthday,” said Matthew’s father Mark Leveson.
Seven blackbutt trees were planted to restore the area to its natural state.
“To make it lush and green again like it was before we came in looking for Matty, it’s a really special place to use so we are really happy to have trees planted around where he was found,” Faye Leveson said.
The small trees were planted among 40-metre-tall blackbutts which loom over the forest and create a canopy.
Calls for permanent memorial
Returning to the burial site of their son was a heart-wrenching experience, but Mr and Mrs Leveson said this time was different.
“Your mindset changes, in the past we were here trying to think like a killer. Where would I hide a body? Now we can think about him not what was done to him,” Mr Leveson said.
“Today we are not looking, we are down here to remember Matt, to say hi to him and sorry it took us so long to find him,” Mrs Leveson said.
Coloured ribbons, flowers, photos, letters and cards are taped to a tree where the remains were uncovered, but Mr and Mrs Leveson would like to have a something permanent installed.
“Like a little plaque about Matt about him being found down here. No one should be in an unmarked grave for nine years and eight months and eight days.”
Some of Matthew’s remains are still scattered, as his body was not fully recovered in the search.
With rehabilitation of the site now underway, it will remain a tranquil place for loved ones to come and reflect on Matthew Leveson’s life.