Highway One: the Grandis Tree

By Catherine Lawson 7 November 2013
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Just off the beaten track of Highway One in NSW, is one of the largest living trees – the Grandis.

Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, along with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Australia.

I’M A BIG FANof Australia’s big things, be it a pineapple, crocodile, or a banana, but it’s nature’s record holders – the oldest, longest or tallest – that really deserve a detour.

West of Bulahdelah, about 95km north of Newcastle, NSW, we leave Highway One in search of the Grandis, a 400-year-old flooded gum tree that pierces the canopy on the western edge of Myall Lakes National Park. At 76.2m high and with an enormous 11.5m circumference at its base, the Grandis rates as one of, if not the tallest tree in NSW.

Spared by loggers who extensively harvested the area in the late 1970s, this ancient gum might be matched by taller trees hidden elsewhere in this national park, but nothing detracts from the humbling experience of standing beneath such a giant. Close to the coast there is so much more to explore in Myall Lakes National Park that protects NSW’s largest natural brackish lake system; 10,000 hectares of wetlands that provide habitat for almost a third of all coastal plants and animals recorded in the state.

Highlights include a climb to Sugarloaf Point lighthouse for views of Seal Rocks, notorious for a century of shipwrecks snagged on its extensive reefs. This is also the spot to whale-watch from May to October.

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