HAS CALIFORNIA THE BIGGEST TREE?
The following interesting article accompanied by a half-plate photograph of Furmston's tree has been contributed by Miss Lorna Johnston of Healesville, for presentation in the San Francisco Examiner.
Greetings, California, home of tall timber! Greetings and a challenge from Australia! Have you the World's biggest trees? The question is being asked and a good deal of late, following official recognition of a forest of giant mountain ash trees on the summit of Mt Monda, a spur of the Great Dividing Range, which runs from North Queensland through New South Wales to the extreme west of Victoria.
Mt. Monda is located 50 miles from Melbourne by road, via the picturesque little township of Healesville, and over the famous Blacks' Spur, where the road which wonders in a careless fashion over the ranges is lined with tree ferns and, in season, the golden wattle blossom ferns an archway overhead to enchant the passer-by. Then the road is left and a bridle trail followed to the peak.
The particular giant tree under consideration is known as "Furmston's tree" named after the forest ranger who on his last yearly tour of inspection through these areas thought it to be slightly larger than its fellows and reported it to the authorities.
The Children's Newspaper, a London magazine with World-wide circulation describes it as being probably the biggest tree in the Empire, if not the World.
A special pilgrimage was arranged from Melbourne on the occasion of the visit of Mr. A. D. Hardy, of the Forestry department, and other officials to measure its dimensions. He found that at a mean height from the ground the circumference was 62 feet, and at 10 feet, 50 feet round. The estimated height was 287 feet. To encircle the tree it was necessary for 15 adults to clasp hands.
Extremely healthy and growing as rapidly as its kind permits, the tree is of a variety which has been know to attain a height of considerably more than 300 feet. In fact, in this same area mighty stumps whose size proclaims them to be ex-monarchs of the forest.
When first I found this fairyland it was early morning. Through the tiny spaces in the treetops window, it seemed, so far above the golden sunshine found the glorious bark of these trees, still wet from the mountain mists not yet risen and with its magical touch converted every trunk into a veritable rainbow.
Unlike many other giant trees, these are not denizens of the valley but thrive at an altitude of about 5,000 feet, bearing both the brunt of both summer sun and winter wind.
The valleys are carpeted with mosses and countless shrubs, and tenanted by the wallaby, wombat, and lyrebird, with here and there a timid deer.
Special inducements are to be offered to tourists from Matson and other American luxury liners to visit these forests, where far up in the gum trees the crystal note of the bell bird may be heard ringing from morn till night, and where, at dawn and dusk the sober old kookaburra laughs.