Lost in Gippsland – the Search for the Ada Tree

Howdy all! Gippsland is an exceptional destination to visit if you are traveling in Victoria, in the South-East of Australia (and my home state!) Over the last couple of weeks I’ve given you a couple posts centred on the region, and today is my third, and last, featuring the exploits of a very short trip I spent there late last year.

Today I want to tell you the tale of how I eventually found (oops, spoilers!) this incredible famous tree called the ‘Ada Tree’, which was not nearly as easy to reach as I originally thought it was. I discovered just how bad the mobile phone coverage is in this part of Gippsland too, and how some walking tracks are better than other walking tracks. And perhaps I my story will provide assistance to someone who thought they would go and find this tree themselves. Because it took a lot longer than it should have.

So I set out as my first order of business on this day back in November 2021, remember 2021? It was a lot like 2020 but even more depressing. Well, I set out with high hopes and a rough idea of how to get to the first spot I was aiming for for the day, and that was the Ada Tree. I wasn’t really sure what an “Ada Tree” was to be honest, other than a big, old historical tree in the Australian bush with some sort of significance. And I knew you had to walk to get there, but it sounded like a worthwhile thing to find, and perhaps a little bit of a challenge.

So I had my GPS set for the Ada Tree walk, I hopped into the car at the campground and I was away! On the road, passing through the towns of Neerim South and Neerim, and then… my GPS deserted me! No signal whatsoever, no data or connection on my smartphone at all! This was going to be a challenge.

I hadn’t taken close notice of the map, so I really wasn’t sure how to get there but I was somewhat confident that I needed to go through Noojee, so I drove up as far as Noojee hoping that in this small town there would be a sign or two to the Ada Tree. Alas, there was not. So there was nothing left to do but to ask!

I entered the Little Red Duck Café, the most notable eatery in Noojee, and spoke to a nice chap there who gave me some vague directions to go back along the road I had come in on, make a right and drive for 15 minutes or something and then another right…

I was a little apprehensive, but it was time to give it a go. So I did my best to understand what I was told, I made the first right successfully and was going in the right direction towards Poweltown. I drove for what felt like quite a way, there was a track to the left with a sign that said ‘No through to Ada River, for Ada Tree turn right at ‘so and so’ road. (Sorry, can’t remember the name of the road). So I thought, that’s the one!

I went on down the road. I almost went into a road five minutes on, but it wasn’t the right one, then I turned right into a track which I thought was the right name. Little did I know it wasn’t – the name wasn’t QUITE the same. It was little Big Creek track or something similar.

As I turned in there were a couple of signs near walking tracks saying ‘Walk Into History’ – two signs, two tracks. Nothing official that said ‘Ada Tree’, but there was very little official around the place and I thought I was in the right place.

I then went for a forty-five minute return walk down one of the tracks. It was overgrown and there were cobwebs everywhere, but it was an attractive walk and it went through a little swamp over a bridge made from a tree trunk. I started to get worried about snakes, November is the month where things warm up, and there were definitely a lot of snake holes along the track, and knowing how dangerous the snakes and spiders of Australia are, and keeping in mind I was completely by myself, I was a little uncomfortable.

Then I hit the road and I was sure I was not on the right path, and had to walk back through it all! Time was a wasting, and although it was a nice enough walk albeit with snake holes and spiderwebs, I was getting a bit concerned. I made it back to the car and checked out the second path, which frankly was even more overgrown and in a worse way and decided to give it a miss.

I figured I had almost certainly gone down the wrong track in the car, and rejoined the main road where I heard a sound from underneath the car. These were unsealed tracks I had been on, and I was in my Mazda 3 which despite its many pluses, is low to the ground and not built for any sort of off-roading. I pulled over and squatted down to find a pretty big branch stuck under the car, and pulled it out.

The plan was to find some reception, and I knew that Poweltown wasn’t so far away. At least I could find out if I was close. But as I drove on, I came to a road – THE road I should have turned down only a couple of kilometres further on, and it had a large clear sign to the ‘Ada Tree’, 24kms! I couldn’t believe I was still that far away. But it was a positive sign and although time was wearing thin, and it was another unsealed (although much better condition, it was a road and not a ‘track’), I decided I had come to find this Ada Tree and I would complete my mission!

And so I drove along said road. It was an attractive drive, Gippsland as I have mentioned is so green and beautiful, but it was around 20 minutes to car park for the Ada Tree Walk. But I made it! And there were a couple of turns on this road I could have easily gone past it or the wrong way again, I was lucky I didn’t. Not a lot of sign posting and still no GPS.

The walk took around 45 minutes as a round trip. I took the smaller but quicker path to the Ada Tree, and the flatter, longer path back to the car park which I think was the sensible thing to do. I was in rain forest and the shorter, downhill path was quite muddy in parts, but still in much better shape than the path I had found myself on earlier in the day.

And I made it to the Ada Tree! This amazing tall tree named after a woman, called Ada. Reasonably enough I guess! I stood under it not realising my microphone connected to my camera was in the process of dying as I read out random facts about it from the plaque beneath it. I had made it! I had spent probably four or five hours finding something that if I had gone straight there wouldn’t have taken one hour, but I had made it and there was a definite sense of achievement! Heck, the tree had stood there for hundreds of years, so a few hours is not even a drop in the ocean, right? It’s thought to be one of the biggest trees in Victoria, and is a mighty mountain ash. It was named after Ada Mortimore, but there appears little information on her other than ‘she knew the surveyor’, and that a tree and river were named after here. It’s around 300 years old, 15.6 metres wide at shoulder height and 76 metres tall.

I went from here to Toorongo Falls, which you can read about in my previous post, but this is my last post about my little Gippsland trip from November last year. It’s a wonderful part of Victoria and if you are in Victoria and have the time, you won’t regret exploring it a little. Just be prepared for lack of signage and mobile phone signal! Thanks for reading, take care wherever you may be, and May the Journey Never End!


11 thoughts on “Lost in Gippsland – the Search for the Ada Tree

  1. Oh my gosh, how many times I’ve done the same thing. I recently went into the Bunyip forest to look for a waterfall. Didn’t find it, though, for the same reason. A serious dearth of signage.

  2. What an adventure. It certainly makes you want to go for it, or not. But it’s often when you get lost on the way that you discover something else completely unexpected.

  3. I love a good walk, but would be worried about snakes etc and being on my own in a foreign country. The tree looks really old indeed.

    1. snakes can be an issue, and I was very careful. You should actually make as much noise as possible, because it’s when they are startled (ie you step on them or sneak up on them) that they can react viciously. In winter months they are not an issue in Victoria. However it was warming up in November last year and they definitely would have been about. they are more scared of humans than we are of them.

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