30 May 2011, Comments (5)

Easter Road Trip, Part 2

Author: Helen

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:

Road sign - "Site of World's Tallest Tree"

Road sign - "Site of World's Tallest Tree"



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.

Metal pole with "World's Tallest Tree" in lettering at the top

Metal pole with "World's Tallest Tree" in lettering at the top

In case you’re looking here and there in confusion wondering if there’s an actual tree, there’s a sign and a plaque.

Painted sign on fence explaining Site of Tallest Tree's history.

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.

The White Post which the Tallest Tree would stretch to if it still existed and it was cut down (again).

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.

Awesome!

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.

Giant potatoes with forks in them, near Yarragon, Gippsland


Comments (5) »

  • Bernice says:

    They have one of them in Robertson – a big potato. The look of absolute astonishment on the boy’s then 5 year old face as we drove past the monolith sited in the main street.

    He finally managed to ask “But why do they have a big poo?”

    Obviously the big fork idea hadn’t made it to Robertson. I’m waiting for an Australian town to enclose itself in an acrylic dome, becoming the world’s largest snowdome. Now that I would go and see.

  • Helen says:

    Haven’t they already done that in Dubai, B? the Snowdome thing, I mean.

    I like this cheeky little fella. Which alerts me to the fact I’ve misspelled Thorpdale throughout. Fixed!

  • kate says:

    Excellent – edible big poo! There’s a SpudFest in Trentham too, you could do a different spud related event every year.

    We have sculptures on white concrete plinths here too. They give the impression that the septic tanks have been breeding along the river. Every time I see them I’m torn between laughing and crying.

  • Helen says:

    A different spud related event every year? NOW you’re talking.

  • TimT says:

    Well, I do like potatoes, so maybe that’s all right.

    My favourite Big Thing now is probably a Big Thing sited in Albury-Wodonga (can’t remember whether it was in the A or the W part). There was a roundabout with this sign on it:

    “WORLD’S TALLEST AIR GUITAR!”

    And, you know, I think it was. 😉

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