A sunny afternoon in the gardens
Luke and I are planning a trip to Tasmania at the start of January, which I'm excited about, but today after checking my book of Australia's Remarkable Trees and researching Tasmania's trees online, I can't wait to go (luckily Luke also likes trees). With its vast tracts of wilderness and temperate climate, Tasmania is home to many of Australia's old and big trees. It has six entries in Remarkable Trees, including:
Huon Pine at Mount Read - more a forest than one tree. The remarkable thing with these trees is that they are all male and genetically identical, which means they are clones of one original tree which is thought to lived around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. It continued to regenerate when its branches, heavy with snow, made contact with the ground, took root and kept growing.
"This process has been going on for thousands of years. The tree has produced many new trunks, eventually producing a small forest of identical and interconnected trees covering the best part of a hectare." Wow.
An English Oak which was planted from an acorn brought from Ireland by Roderic O'Connor in 1824. The property where it grows, Connorville near Launceston, is still owned by O'Connor's descendants.
An 86-metre Tasmanian Mountain Gum near Launceston, which was spared the chainsaw when the area was logged in around 2000. Apparently this is unusually tall for a mountain gum and the logger couldn't bear to lop it. They usually grow to about 50 metres, making this one a very lucky freak of nature.
An almost 500-year-old Mountain Ash south-west of Hobart - known as the Arve Big Tree - which is 87 metres tall and 17 metres around the trunk at chest-height, making likely to be "the most massive living thing in Australia". But it won't be for too much longer. The Mountain Ash usually lives to around 450, so this one is ancient and nearing the end of its life.
But what really got me excited about Tasmania's tree was the Giant Trees website, which catalogues the island's big trees. They have top be 87 metres tall or 280 cubic metres in volume to qualify as a giant.
They are in places with names like Andromeda, the Styx Valley and Diogenes Creek, which sound mysterious and foreboding. They have names like Centurion (the tallest of them all), Icarus Dream, Firebird Wonder, Medusa, Papa Zig and King Stringy. There's Old Regret, White Knight, the Gunns Road Monster and Still Sorrow and Glow Worm Creek. But my favourites are the Styx Big Tree and the Styx Bigger Tree. "Well, I'll be damned! There's an even bigger one! What shall we call it?"
There's a Southern Giant Trees Trail, a "self-guided adventure through ancient forests, under closed canopies in rainforest shade, to discover the giants one by one". That's going to the top of my must-do list.