Australia’s native Mountain Ash eucalyptus trees can be viewed in the Great Otway National Park, along the iconic Great Ocean Road.
Walk beneath these giants and learn about their place amongst the flora and fauna of the Otways. All this and more on our one day Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne.
Destination: Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is just a short drive from Melbourne. The iconic day trip takes you along the winding coastal road, past famous surf beaches and rolling green hills. It’s the perfect place to walk amongst towering eucalyptus trees.
While it is known for its incredible coastline, beaches and rock formations, there is more to the Great Ocean Road. Much of the road passes or goes through the Great Otway National Park. This protected area is home to many eucalyptus trees, native Australian wildlife and areas of cool temperate rainforest.
Stop to discover the intricacies of this area and in particular to view the world’s tallest flowering trees – the Mountain Ash. These trees are a type of eucalyptus that grows to around 100 metres tall. They will fill you with wonder as you gaze up the sturdy trunks to the large, leafy canopy overhead.
The tallest flowering trees – Mountain Ash
The Mountain Ash eucalyptus trees (scientific name: Eucalyptus regnans) are native to both Victoria and Tasmania. These are the two states in the south-east corner of Australia. The Mountain Ash is the tallest of all flowering plants. Its small flowers are white in colour and grow in bunches amongst the eucalyptus leaves in the canopy of the trees.
The tallest living Mountain Ash tree is in Tasmania. It was recorded to be 100.5 metres tall. These trees often grow in high rainfall areas, amongst rainforest – as is the case in the Otways. The Otway Ranges experience some of the highest average rainfalls in all of Victoria.
The Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park stretches along the Great Ocean Road coastline from Torquay through to Princetown. It also goes inland, through hinterland, in the Great Otway National Park.
Amongst the national park there are many walking trails where you can discover wildlife, trees, rainforest and waterfalls. On our Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne you can take a walk through the Otways National Park at Maits Rest.
From the trail you can view rainforest trees, as well as the Mountain Ash. You might even spot some of the black snails, insects and birds which inhabit the area.
Australia’s eucalyptus trees
Eucalyptus trees are as iconic to Australia as kangaroos and koalas. Eucalyptus forest is the most common type of forest found across Australia by far. It’s estimated that approximately 77% of Australia’s total native forested areas are made up of Eucalyptus forest.
However, the term eucalyptus does not refer to just one type of trees, but many, many different species. There are approximately 800 species of trees that are classified by the term ‘eucalyptus’. Almost all of these species are native to Australia.
Australia’s native eucalyptus forests are incredibly important for the conservation of Australian flora and fauna. They provide homes and a food source for many animals, the most famous of which is the koala.
Being such a dominant part of the landscape, eucalyptus trees played an important role in the lives of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Traditionally they used nearly all the parts of eucalyptus trees – from the leaves to the sap, and the bark as well.
Leaves and leaf oils have medicinal properties, and saps can be used for adhesive. The bark and wood have been used for making vessels – as well as tools and weapons such as spears and clubs.
The Great Ocean Road region is a place that has a strong and significant Aboriginal history. The area was home to clans related to the Gunditjmara, Wathaurong, Eastern Maar and Gadubanud language groups.
Use of Mountain Ash trees by Australia’s early settlers
For tens of thousands of years Victoria’s coastline and hinterland provided natural resources for Indigenous clans. It was an area rich in natural resources, providing opportunities for fishing, hunting and gathering. The Mountain Ash trees were one of these resources.
However, these resources were also significant to European immigrants. In fact the Mountain Ash trees of the Great Ocean Road region were one of the natural resources that drew European settlers to the area. The trees were cut down to provide wood for construction.
Shortly after European arrival in the area, a large timber industry opened up along the coast and hinterland. Much of the wood was sent to Melbourne for construction in the city. One of the reasons the Great Ocean Road was built was to provide better access for people living and working along the coast. Most of these people were employed in the timber industry.
Today eucalypts are a significant source of wood that is useful for many applications. From large-scale construction to wood chips and pulp.
How eucalyptus tree adapt to Australian life
Bushfires are a regular occurrence in Australia. Particularly in the south east where there are large areas of eucalyptus forest. However, these forest areas have actually evolved to thrive on bushfires. Fires are part of a regeneration process for the eucalyptus trees and surrounding bushland.
However, with Australia’s expanding population, many people live in these bushland areas. Bushfires are a major hazard to people’s property and lives. In addition they threaten the lives of many animals, both native to Australia and otherwise.
Plan your visit to the Great Ocean Road
To visit the Great Otway National Park and see the towering Mountain Ash trees for yourself, join us on a Go West Great Ocean Road tour. The day tour from Melbourne lets you explore the epic coastline in the comfort of a small bus. You’ll also travel with a knowledgeable guide. You’ll see all the highlights of this spectacular region. Also you leave with no doubt return to Melbourne with plenty of great memories of your tour.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au