The forests of East Gippsland are remote, vast and full of variety. From coastal banksia, warm and cool temperate rainforests, dry sclerophyll eucalypt forests on ridgetops to the ancient wet forests found on the Errinundra plateau, this region is incredibly floristically diverse. Interestingly, the largest known trees in the region are not Mountain Ash - this honour is equally shared between a large Mountain Grey Gum Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, growing at Ellery Camp, an Errinundra Shining Gum, Eucalyptus denticulata, near Result Creek and a Messmate, Eucalyptus obliqua growing near Kelly Creek. While the Black Summer Bushfires burnt a huge amount of the forest in East Gippsland, thankfully, some of the most precious forests of the Errinundra Plateau were spared.
Please note: If you plan to visit these forests, make sure you have allowed sufficient time to get into the area - for example it takes about seven hours driving from Melbourne just to get to the Errinundra Plateau. Also come well prepared as services are few and far between once you leave the towns close to the coast. Despite the distance, East Gippsland's forests offer the visitor a true wilderness forest experience. .
Above: Early morning view of Shining Gum forest off Errinundra Road Below: Outstanding old forest of Shining Gums along Goonmirk Rocks Road
Above and Below - incredibly old and gnarly Shining Gums along Rooty Break trail and Goonmirk Rocks road - note the tree ferns growing as epiphytes in the specimen below!
Below: A Mountain Plum Pine, Podocarpus lawrencei - normally found as a prostrate, sprawing shrub above the tree line in the Victorian and NSW alpine regions, in the Goonmirk Rocks region of Errinundra NP it grows as a small upright tree (although from the photo you can still see some of that 'sprawling' tendency! It is thought some of these ancient pines exceed 500 years in age.
The giant mountain grey gum, Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, at Ellery Camp. This tree is 13.2m girth and was 55m tall until being badly burnt in the 2019/20 fires. It used to back onto a stunning cool temperate rainforest gully ( photo below) consisting of southern sassafras, Antherosperma moschatum and soft tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, however, the rainforest vegetation has largely been replaced by post fire vines and wet sclerophyll species and both the tree and the whole area are almost unrecognizable now. .
The huge base of 'Darejo', Eucalyptus denticulata, is 14.3m in girth- This species is restricted in its distribution to East Gippsland and a small area just inside the NSW border.
Above: An ancient shining gum on Rooty Break Trail, Errinundra National Park Below: A 85m tall Mountain Grey Gum, Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, off the south east slopes of Mt Ellery - this incredible grove remained undiscovered until an expedition into the area was undertaken to assess some promising LiDAR hits in April 2022.
Above: 'Big Tree' Eucalyptus denticulata, at Big Tree Camp, photographed in 2010. This outstanding specimen is 8m in girth and 68m tall. It miraculously avoided getting burnt in the 2019/20 Black summer bushfires.