The Grand Ridge Road only took two days, so there was still plenty of Easter/Anzac long weekend to check out the tourist attractions of East Gippy. Near Thorpdale, you can see this sign:
As you read earlier, the Strzlecki Ranges (and Gippsland generally) were dense forest once upon a time, and home to Eucalyptus Regnans (Mountain Ash), the world’s tallest flowering plant. (The world’s tallest tree is always a lineball competition between Eucalyptus Regnans and Sequoia (Redwood), which is a conifer growing in the US.) Since European settlement, though, Gippsland has been home to many loggers and farmers whose dream it was to rid the lush rolling hills of all the pesky tall trees, and they probably would have succeeded if those damn greenies hadn’t agitated for national parks in the twentieth century. Note the sign says “the site of the world’s tallest tree.” Yes, they felled the thing, measured it once it was on the ground, said “Yup, that was the world’s tallest tree, all right”, and put up a weird thing in its place for people to come and look at.
In case you’re looking here and there in confusion wondering if there’s an actual tree, there’s a sign and a plaque.
The World’s Tallest Tree
375 Feet or 114.3 Metres
If the tree grew here at this monument and was felled easterley < - along the road, the top of the tree would be at the white post near the fence on the south side of the road. Please take a walk to the white post. You will not believe a tree could be so tall. Mr Stan Pethybridge.
Got that? If the tree was still there, and if they felled it again (still having difficulty not automatically associating “tree” with “fell”/”chop”/”remove”), It would go all the way along the road to.. this.
There was a very bemused German family sharing this moment with me. I reassured them that there were some big trees left in Victoria, and suggested Powelltown or Tarra Bulga.
There’s a plaque, as well:
The World’s Tallest Tree
375 feet (114.3 metres)
This mountain ash grew about 160 Meters south from here on Mr Bill Cornithwaite’s property. [So, not actually “here”, either.] Felled by him in 1884. And officially measured by his brother George, a govt surveyor. This plaque and adjacent Post erected as a Rotary project for the Thorpdale centenary, March 1976. Unveiled by hon. Jim Balfour, minister for fuel and power.
So, what have they done with these rolling hills, once they’re denuded of their tall timber? Well, Thorpdale is the potato capital of Gippsland. They even have a potato festival.
And of course, if you keep driving to Trafalgar and turn left to end your road trip and drive back to Melbourne, you’ll see that absolute staple of Australian Tourism: the Big Thing. Or rather, the Big Things. Gippsland: Beautiful one day, daggy the next.