1. Before

1TallTreesThe early environment

The best picture we have of the early South Gippsland environment comes from letters and diaries of the early settlers, and from accounts collected in books on the pioneering years. The following links provide a picture of the hill and marsh country, the Great Forest and the local fauna.

Anderson’s letter to La Trobe

Sam Anderson was among the first to settle in South Gippsland. In this brief letter to Governor La Trobe, Anderson outlines the lay-of-the-land as discovered on a three-week journey that covered just over 220 kilometres. His description of the country between Bass Strait and the Bass and Strzelecki hills is less than flattering … read on

Image of Anderson

Sam Anderson from the back cover of “The Andersons of Western Port” by Thomas Horton and Kenneth Morris, 1983.

Click for Image of Sam Anderson

Description of the Great Forest

From forest giants — among the world’s tallest — to ferns and native grasses


Great Forest

The early writers referred to forest as big scrub.

The mountains known as the Baw Baws were far to the north of the settled area of Gippsland. In the south the Strzeleckis rose two thousand feet above rolling hills and in the west were swampy plains. Rain fell for most of the year and was greatest in the spring. This rain soaked some of the richest soils in Victoria and allowed the growth of dense vegetation. In the dense forest there were three layers of growth. In the top layer mountain ash, blue gum, messmate and other eucalypts rose as high as 250 feet (80 m), with some giants reaching 300 feet (100m). One hundred feet or more below them a layer of large blackwoods, hazels, musks, and wattles stretched towards the light. The ground was covered with dense undergrowth: tall tree ferns and ferny scrub grew along the creeks and in the gullies where it was wet. Creepers, wire grass and sword grass covered fallen timber and moist decaying forest litter.

Reference: Charles Daley, “The Story of Gippsland”, Page 94

Image of the Forest

An early photo of the forest –

Click for Image of the Forest

1TallTreesThe Great Forest in the Dumbalk North area

The photograph is from the Dodd collection printed in “The Mountain Forests of Gippsland”, by Phyllis Reichl, 1968. Note the scaffolding and men at the tree base.

The story of the Dodd family is related later in this kit. They were early pioneers who came into the Dumbalk region via Mirboo North. Mr Dodd took many photographs some of which also appear later in this kit as well.

Forest profile

The Great Forest had three distinct levels.

Click for Illustration
1ForestProfileThe following illustration appeared in Phyllis Reichl’s “The Mountain forest of Gippsland”, 1968. 

Forest Fauna

The forest supported a great diversity of life … birds, browsers and burrowers

Click for Illustration of Forest Fauna
The animals of the Mountain Ash Forest