Up a gum tree

Origin of: Up a gum tree

Up a gum tree

To be up a gum tree or stuck up a gum tree means to be in trouble or in some sort of predicament and dates in this sense from the early 19th century. There are various claims as to its origin, some American, some Australian; both countries of course possessing native gum trees. On balance, the American claim seems the more plausible because the first citation is definitely American because it makes reference to a possum up a gum tree, chased there by hounds or some other animal, and Australia of course does not have possums.