I spent today on a reconnaisance mission to check out the potential for a visit to the Ada Tree as a future site for an excursion by my Probus Club.
It was a very cold morning with a heavy frost on the ground. I drove through the outer suburban areas of Warrandyte and Wonga Park where the temperature at 8:00 am this morning was -3C, and met up with my long-time bushwalking friend Bob, at Lilydale. We then travelled on together and I was grateful that we went in his 4WD as we would not have made it to the tree in my conventional rear wheel drive car.
The Ada Tree is a giant Mountain Ash that is located about 35km by road to the east of Powelltown in the Yarra Ranges. It is thought to be around 300 years old, standing about 76m in height, and with a circumference of almost 17metres measured at 1.5 metres above ground level. It is considered to be one of Victoria’s largest trees.
I have been in and around this area many times on bushwalking trips and I love its dense rainforest environment. The area is riddled with old timber tramway lines that, during the 1930’s, were an integral part of the logging infrastructure in the area. These are now lovely, although much deteriorated walking tracks. On one bushwalking trip near here many years ago, I fell and broke my ankle on a steep, slippery slope known as the ‘high lead’. it is the only time in my life that I have ever had to be rescued.
We have had a very cold spell of weather lately and with the higher elevation of this area, there have been considerable snowfalls. I hadn’t expected that there would be so much as we saw today. About half way along the forest road to the location of the tree, we passed Starling Gap – the site of a large sawmill in the 1930’s. I have camped here a few times but today I was very glad to be just passing through. It was completely snow covered.
The further we went, the deeper the snow on the road became. We don’t get much snow near Melbourne and this was a bit unusual.
At the Ada Tree reserve, there is now a large car park, picnic ground and toilets. It was from here that we started our short walk to the tree – a fairly easy 1.5 km walk that passes through ancient rainforest along the Island Creek walking track. It is a spectacular walk beneath huge tree ferns and massive Mountain Ash trees. There a number of interpretive signs that explain the ecology of the forest. It is interesting to compare the size of the buts of the huge trees that were felled in the early 1900’s with the much smaller ones that are growing today. Along the way, we could hear lyrebirds which are famous for imitating the sounds of the forests – even saws and axes that have not been seen in this area for decades.
It only took us 35 minutes of very leisurely strolling to reach the tree itself. After a good look around and a couple of photos, we headed back to the car and back to one of the nearby towns for a lunch at the local pub.