Sunday, October 21, 2018

Pickering Brook Bushwalk 

Rain was forecast and it came all day in short, sharp showers. We were constantly putting on our rain jackets and taking them off again. I was keen to try out my new hiking sandals in wet conditions. The latest thinking in Camino circles is that sandals are better than boots because they are lighter (and less effort to move) and they also allow the feet to breathe and stay cooler. Nobody says anything about walking through muddy puddles and having wet socks all day! My test was incomplete: although it rained on and off all day, my socks didn't get wet and there were no really sodden areas of the track.

There were lots of wildflowers and flowering shrubs out, all doing well in the rain. This one was my favourite:
Kunzia bush
The walk was about 13 kms on bush tracks, not hard but as usual I was tired in the last hour when for some reason the leaders increase the pace!

Macrozamia cones: they are poisonous, but the aborigines knew how
to treat them to make them edible
the seeds when produced are the size of a large raw date and occur in considerable quantity. The seed is surrounded by a thin shell containing a nut-like interior and is obviously an excellent food source, but these ancient plants have developed defences against being eaten and are highly poisonous as early explorers and settlers quickly discovered, when they doubled up in pain after eating them, some even dying. However aborigines over thousands of years of occupation discovered ways to neutralise them by roasting, leaching and aging, etc (don’t try this at home), so to them it became an important food source. With their fire-stick land management, it is quite likely they farmed these plants by burning regularly to encourage flowering.

(From the Esperance website mentioned in the previous post)

One of the many species of bacon and egg plants
Start and end of the walk; blue leschenaultias everywhere.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Plant diversity in the south west

I've joined a class at MALA (Mature Age Learning Association) entitled The Incredible Plant Diversity of the South West. It is being given by Neville Marchant, retired director of the Perth Herbarium. We are learning why there are so many plant groups here which are not found anywhere else in the world, and why they can thrive in such a harsh climate with very poor soil. The Yilgarn Craton in the eastern part is an ancient land surface, once part of Gondwanaland, and has remained cut off ever since. The plant life has existed here for millions of years.

We were referred to a website maintained by a botanist in Esperance, which has a collection of incredibly detailed photos of wildflowers:
A beautiful website here!  This site is an unusual blog, in that posts do not appear in date order, but in alphabetical order according to the species. My own photos of local wildflowers are pathetic in comparison, but I'm trying to improve.

Typical landscape of the Yilgarn Craton,
containing some of the oldest rocks in the world.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kitty's Gorge Bushwalk

Named after a cow called Kitty, who wandered off from the herd and ended up in the steep-sided Gorge. That was the end of Kitty. The Bushwalk felt like that for some of us oldies. It was 13 kms of track, mostly up and down, with some really stony slopes. On the Camino, there is a such a slope named the Mule Killer. We were rewarded by many wildflowers, including fringe lilies which are my favourites.

Fringe lilies
Trigger plants
Cowslip orchids
Morning tea spot
Hibbertia beside the trail
Sign on the tree said TRAIL CLOSED; maybe to noisy motor bikes?
Lunch spot by the waterfall
Some years ago, we used to do the walk from Jarrahdale Cemetery along Gooralong Brook up to Serpentine Falls.  This was a much nicer walk, but it fell out of favour as it involved a car shuffle. Maybe we should go back to this?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Singing Waters

Singing Waters is the aboriginal name for Araluen, a botanic park in a sheltered valley near Perth. It has its own microclimate with little wind, rich soil and high rainfall which allows the planting of species which don't thrive in our domestic gardens. There are Magnolias, Azaleas and Camellias in flower. In Spring, people flock to see beds full of tulips, all planted by volunteers. My favourite things (which I've missed this year) are daffodils and jonquils. I remember them from living in York, where they surrounded the city walls, and I missed them when I first came to live in Australia. Along with Marks and Spencer's!

Wisteria on the roof of the cafe; it was packed inside!