Well I have finally decided to take the leap and record my orchid travels, discoveries and photos in a BLOG so that others may choose to join in my adventures, looking for what I feel are an amazing family of flowering plants that have so many varieties, colours, shapes and sizes that one can not help but be amazed by them. In Western Australia there are two distinct areas that native orchids are found. The South West of Western Australia and in the north starting in the Kimberley. My BLOG will focus on the South West terrestrial orchids due to the massive size of my home state of Western Australia.
Orchidaceae is the family name in scientific speak however I will be using the common name of “Orchid” in my posts. In Western Australia the South West orchid territory ranges from Shark Bay in the Midwest on a diagonal line to Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields and eastwards to Eyre on the Nullarbor plain including the entire South West, Great Southern, South Coastal and Wheatbelt regions.
In this Southern region 28 different genera and over 400 species are found with many yet to be formally named, so as you can imagine tracking down all of these will provide years of adventures for me to fill up my BLOG.
Please note I am a self-taught amateur in Orchid location, Orchid identification and Orchid photography so I would ask for your understanding if I may get it wrong, and would appreciate your feedback, notes and comments to help this little BLOG grow and develop just as my wonderful Orchids do in this great state of Western Australia.
Well, it has been nearly 2 weeks since we have encountered any orchids. Over this time, we visited the Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool before heading up to Carnarvon where I caught up with a old CBA colleague and her hubby by chance. It is here that we start our planned road trip. We are to travel the Kingsford Smith Mail Run which runs from Carnarvon to Meekatharra. On this road trip we pass through Gascoyne junction and visit Mount Augustus National Park for the very time. At Meekatharra we meet up with friends, Sandy and Noel with whom we travel with for a few days. Our first night we camped at Barlangi Rock which is on the Miners Pathway trail. 2nd night is spent at Lake Mason Homestead, a free camping site. Next day we do the tourist loop in Sandstone before heading toward Menzies. We pull into Lake Ballard to camp the night.
So, we awake to a wet campsite due to overnight rain. Whilst we wait for the sun to dry us out, we venture over to Lake Ballard. Richard decides he will walk out onto the lake and climb the central hill. The rest of us just hang around exploring the area. Once Richard, with so much mud on his boots returns, we venture back to camp, pack up and head into Menzies. Here we grab a coffee and cake before fuelling up and heading west towards our planned destination, Mount Elvire Station.
First stop is a Historic Town Site of Mulline (1897) where we found scattered debris. Next, we pull into Hospital Rocks and go exploring. Woohoo orchids are found. Due to our inland location, I believe the orchids to be the Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa) which covers a vast inland area from Nerren Nerren Station and Balladonia.
Also discovered were some sun orchids (Thelymitra sp.) in bud. We take the opportunity to have lunch of left-over pizza before moving on.
We eventually make it to Mount Elvire Station and take our time picking a spot to set up our three campers. Not as many facilities as Lake Mason and it feels much more remote, but we have the place to ourselves which is great. This is Sandy and Noel’s last night with us, so we enjoy their company around the campfire.
First an update on our travels. 01/08 we have an early breakfast at the Three Springs Motel then hit the road for Geraldton, where Richard needs to visit a dentist, about a tooth he broke eating a nut bar. It was a very windy day with a massive cold front bearing down on the coast. Due to this we decide to book into another hotel, this time the Abrolhos Reef Lodge. As Richard attended his dentist, Deb and I went shopping at Coles, had lunch then waited out a massive downpour before making our way to our accommodation for the night. We ate dinner across the highway at the Tarcoola Tavern which is located in the Geraldton Motor Inn complex. Doggy bag of left-over pizza and some drinks are taken back to our lodge, where we sort out where to next, as the weather is too extreme for us to think about camping at Kalbarri. Unusually we can’t agree, so decide to wing it tomorrow. .
02/08 We grab breakfast from our campers, eat, pack up and head off. First up we visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial which we found amazing and emotional at the same time. Of course, it rained whist visiting this outside memorial. Next up we checked out the windblown beach at storm tide, which only confirms our decision not to camp at Kalbarri, which is only 120 or kms north of here, as the crow flies. Leaving Geraldton, we head north to Northampton, which still shows the scares of a cyclone a few years back. This confirms tradesmen are still in short supply all over the country.
About 15mins north of Northampton, we pull into a parking bay where I take the opportunity to look in some scrub for any orchids. To my surprise some Kalbarri cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata) are found. This subspecies is said to be found from Shark Bay to Perenjori and is usually marked with distinctive spots. Spent greenhoods and yet to flower spider orchids are also discovered but no photos taken.
Time to move on as we want to get a far north as possible to escape the storm front crossing the coast. A few kms north of the Kalbarri turn-off, we pull into a picnic/camping area alongside the Murchison River. Here we enjoy a lunch of left-over pizza and sandwiches. Too early to camp up so further north we venture. At the Overlander Roadhouse I look into camping options on google as we have reception. I put it to the others that we venture a few kms towards Shark Bay and stay at Hamelin Station which is a property owned by Bush Heritage, of which I am a member. Even though I am unable to contact them to book a site we venture in with the hope they will have room. Luck is on our side, as we book in for 2 nights. We settle in and finish the day with a walk along one of their trails.
Only 1 species of orchid found today and as we are near the end of the line for Southwest orchids it will likely be many days before venture into known habitat. I will pick up the trip from our next orchid encounter with a brief narrative of our travels in between.
This year on our road trip we are heading to Mt Augustus which will take us out of orchid territory, so the days spent orchid hunting will be limited. I will only be posting about the days spent orchid hunting with the rest of the trip summarised at the beginning of the next orchid post.
6.30pm on the 29/07/2022, we head off for our next road trip adventure. We arrive a Geoff and Robyn’s place in Dwellingup around 2.30am for our overnight stay. Next day after a leisurely breakfast we head down to Mandurah to catchup with Sheena, a friend who is over from Scotland. Our old Murray Districts Rural Youth group used this event as a reunion of sorts, so we caught up with old friends and relatives from our younger days, which was awesome. After a wonderful lunch we said our goodbyes and headed up to Perth. We caught up with our daughter and got to cuddle our beautiful granddaughter again. We then moved on to the in-laws where we had dinner and stayed the night.
Sunday and it’s time to head north with our travelling companion Richard. After fuelling up we pull over at our first orchid stop for the day, Bindoon Hill TruckBay/Bus Stop. (Mud Map N 46) This was a previous stop that we camped overnight at, which looking around now, that seemed an interesting choice. We had a quick scout around the area on both sides of the highway and we actually found orchids.
The first orchids found for the trip, are the always reliable Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which flower from April through to September. Also found growing in the weeds were brightly coloured donkey orchids. Identification is difficult with 2 species that are known to occur in the Shire of Chittering being contenders. So, they are either the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) or the Common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa). I’ll let you be the judge.
Moving on further north, I use Google Maps to spy a possible new location. We miss the turnoff so do a U-turn to pull off the road. We venture into Udumung Nature Reserve for our first every search. We are not disappointed. First up are some more donkey orchids. This time I am more certain of the species due to the reflexed lateral sepals. The Common donkey orchid is noted as sometimes having reflexed and often crossed lateral sepals.
Next up in close succession three different Pterostylis species are found. First up the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is found, followed by the Banded greenhood and lastly the Broad-petaled snail orchid (Pterostylis platypetala). This is my first time recording this snail orchid which occurs between Kalbarri and Brookton. It flowers during the months, June through August, in woodland and on the margins of seasonally wet flats and streams.
Moving into the bush further we come across further Pterostylis orchids. First up are bird orchids then another greenhood. Using Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) as reference, the bird orchid will be listed as the Dwarf bird orchid (Pterostylis galgula), which is listed as flowering in August/September between Northampton and Munglinup. The greenhood looks like a Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and is listed on the ALA site as occurring here, however in Florabase within the Shire of Chittering a similar looking species, the Coastal banded greenhood (Pterostylis orbiculata) is listed. What are your thoughts on the ID as both flower during the months of July and August.
It is now after 1.30pm, so we decide to move on. A little further north we turn right and head into Mogumber. Not much to be seen here, so we head north up the Bindoon-Moora Road. The planned stop at the nature reserve is abandoned as it does not extend to the road, so we pull over at the intersection of Gillingarra Road, as there was some scrubland that may present a possible orchid habitat. I crossed the railway line on the north side of the road whilst Deb ventured down a track on the southside, parallel to the railway line. I only discovered orchid leaves so headed back to see how Deb faired. By the time I found her, Richard was with her, and she was successful in finding our first spider orchid of the trip. The Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians) is a white to creamy-white orchid, which flowers from July to October over a vast area, Kalbarri to Esperance.
Along with the many spiders were a few Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava), Common donkey orchids and another uncertain type of banded greenhood. It’s now nearly 2.30pm, so off we head further north.
We drive through Moora and head up towards Coorow. Just south of Coorow we pull over at Marchagee Nature Reserve for a very quick check, as we are now needing to work out where we will stay the night. Only found another unknown banded greenhood orchid. A storm appears to be building, so I start checking google for somewhere to stay. I telephone up the Three Springs Motel, who luckily have room for the 3 of us. It is only donga accommodation but they serve up some mean food and it was BYO, so I enjoyed my Bundy.
Another sunny winters day so what better thing to do than to look for orchids. However, this time I am accompanied on my wander by my latest grandchild, Bonnie and her mum of course. Not too much was found however I will list those found below with pics to confirm the sightings.
Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) is a species found between Perth and Israelite Bay. They flower June to August and can rise to 300mm in height. It has the largest labellum out of the 4 species found in WA.
Curled-tongue shell orchid (Pterostylis rogersii) is a species found between Binningup and Esperance. They flower June to August and can rise to 200mm in height. It is one of the 7 species found in WA.
Eastern granite snail orchid (Pterostylis voigtii) is a species with a restricted range between Esperance and Israelite Bay. They flower July to early September and only rise to 50mm in height. This species was only named in 2015.
Solo again as Deb is still in Perth with Ollie visiting relatives and having a ball. So, after enjoying a sleep in, I have breakfast, do some washing, then pack up and head off for an exploration northeast of Esperance. First stop is on Wittenoom Road at our usual spot. I immediately check out where the spider orchids flower and was shocked to see the area had been pushed up to increase the space. There was only one small Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) in flower, with no others found, not even leaves.
Then I wander around the site, plus also across the road and not too much is flowering. I find some very small donkey orchids which I am not confident to name. Then of course I find the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata)and Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) growing under the scrub.
And the final orchid found at this location was the small Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which was hard to photograph due to the wind. So I will post a video of it instead.
Time to move on, but only as far as Scaddan Road, where I pull into a section of reclaimed scrub to see if there is anything flowering. Only found a single greenhood growing as well as some more snail orchids. Both named previously.
Past lunch time, so I head off to Mount Burdett, which is located in the aptly named Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. I parked up halfway as the track is badly washed out, however the view was still great whilst eating my nuts and drinking my coffee. I then walk up the last of the track and first up come across some more snail orchids, but this time they are growing in lush green moss.
Then I hit the usual rock edge where we find most of the orchids on the previous visits. This time however all I find are the faithful Banded greenhoods. This is looking poor, however I push further along the base and come across what appears to be a great patch of non-flowering Pink bunny orchid leaves. Could not see anything flowering though. Just as I was about to head up the hill, I stumble across a small patch of Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) which is one of the larger snail orchids and it does not have a rosette, which is quite unique.
Climbing up I come across the Dark banded greenhood again plus a patch of Caladenia leaves. Then found some Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) which were in a reasonable state given the listed flowering period is March to June.
Further towards to summit I reach the access track which is very rough and would be a test for your 4WD. At the first turnaround area I discover some further Brittle snail orchids. Then finally at the summit clearing I find a few Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra), with only one fully formed. These are a widespread orchid, being found from Kalbarri to Esperance. After taking some pics, I have a quick search for any donkey orchids in flower, but alas none were found. So, it’s back down I head.
Nothing more really comes to my attention before making it back to the Triton. So back to Norwood Road, where I turn right. On the left side of the road, it had been burnt out, so I pull alongside the road, park up, then venture into the blackened scrub. After walking around for about 15 mins, with not an orchid in sight, I despondently jump back into the Triton and head toward Dempster Road. Just before the intersection of the roads, I pull into a layby, which is actually the boundary of the Mount Ridley Nature Reserve. Mount Ridley though is actually some 20kms to the north and is not included in a reserve, which I find bizarre. I decided to check out the reserve bush first, but didn’t get very far in, as it was fairly thick. I did however find some small greenhoods, one of which may be the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica), which commences it’s flowering in July. The I checked out the other side of the road but again, no orchids found. Then just before I reach the Triton, I notice some very spent Pygmy orchid (Corunastylis fuscoviridis), so had to grab a pic for recording purposes.
Moving on, I turn left onto Dempster Road and head south toward Fisheries Road. This part of the road is another boundary of the Nature Reserve, so when another layby catches my eye, I do a U-turn and park up for my final exploration of the day. It is getting dark pretty quickly, but I notice some Dark banded greenhoods and grab some pics, then come across some small rosettes with 3 little buds growing from the bare earth in between. Due to this they are going to be some Shell orchids. I take a pic for record purposes, then make a beeline for the Triton.
Then out of nowhere, hiding under a small bush, a large patch of Dwarf shell orchids (Pterostylis brevichila) catches my eye. Now this is an awesome last find for the day. These wonderful orchids are found from Hyden to Mt Ragged, growing in eucalyptus woodlands. The rosette is listed as being compact with rounded leaves, which confirms the buds found earlier will be more of these.
Time to head home as the light is fading fast, however I pull over to grab a shot of the sunset over one of the many clay pans in the area. Amazing day with 2 species of Shell orchids being found together with other Pterostylis species, A sole Wispy spider orchid represents the Caladenia genus and spent Pygmy and Hare orchids close out the list. Winter is moving on slowly, so we can look forward to more orchids flowering in the weeks to come.
Another day solo, as Deb enjoys a weekend away. Today I will head out west of Esperance. 1st stop: Walk trail near Pink Lake Lookout – First up, some good-sized Caladenia sp. leaves are found alongside the bitumen track. Then I head off the track into the surrounding scrub and it is here I find the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) flowering. Also found some Shell orchids and Mosquito orchids sprouting.
2nd stop: Wind Farm Rd – Along the side of the walk track to the now dismantled wind turbines the Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) are found flowering, whilst only the upright rosettes of the Bird orchids are found. A little off the tracks the Shell orchid rosettes are found as are the Pink fairy leaves. Then growing in the moss, right on the edge of the bitumen in the carpark area I find a lone, Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis)standing tall. Well actually only around 40mm in this particular case. This is the first time finding the species flowering at this location, which was exciting.
Nothing out of the ordinary found today, other than the Blue beard. It was a beautiful sunny winters day to go walking in the fresh air though, so well worth the effort.
Well, the 2nd month of winter rolls around and I am home alone for the weekend. I only have the Ford so have to stick to decent roads and tracks on my orchid hunting adventures. I decide to head out East to see if anything new has started to bloom.
1st stop: Track off Old Smokey Road – Had to walk the track as it was not decent enough to tackle in the Ford. Firstly, I will mention the orchids found that had finished their season and the ones found yet to bloom. White bunny orchid (Eriochilus sp.) had finished, whilst the Mignonette orchid (Microtis sp.) was a remanent from last season. Next up Sun orchids (Thelymitra sp.) with leaves only currently growing are found.
The first orchids found flowering were the greenhoods. Possibly both the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea)and Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) were found, however with both having varying colours it is hard to distinguish. Some P. sanguinea are all green/white whilst rarely some P. vittata are found fawn coloured. The other orchid found was the Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva) which also has fawn toning plus pointed leaves to its rosette.
2nd stop: Coolinup Road – More greenhoods are found flowering, possibly a mixture of P. sanguinea, P. vittata and Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). Another snail orchid is also found flowering, however this time they appear to be the Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) due to it’s thinner, taller stature.
Also found were some Caladenia sp. leaves, Bird orchid rosettes and Mosquito orchids in bud, tempting another visit, later in the season.
3rd stop: Track off Fisheries Rd before Parmango Rd – This is a new location and not too much is found this time. I am lucky to stumble across a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) in flower. A lot of dumped rubbish in the area, which is terrible, however I did locate 3 old Cottees bottles, to add to our collection. I wandered into the dried-up lake area, which was almost devoid of any growth, just a bed of leaf litter. On the slow drive back along the track to Fisheries Road I did find some spent Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata) still distinguishable.
4th stop: Under powerlines off Parmango Road – I revisit one of our newer locations and walk up to the gravelly area to see how the spiral leaf orchids are faring. Along the track and at the targeted patch I did stumble across some spent Hare orchids, Caladenia sp. leaves and the spiral leaves of a Thelymitra sp. A highlight of this patch was the couple of small Scented Autumn leek orchids (Prasophyllum sp. ‘Early’) found in flower.
Well, this certainly turned into a day of being too early for some orchids, late for others and only a few in flower. As the season progresses so will the numbers of orchids in flower increase. I look forward to a re-visit later on with Debbie in tow.
1st stop – Walker Street Bushland – Gibson, where we check out the burnt-out scrub. Along the edge of the north/south track we locate some greenhoods. The bright green ones must be the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the brownish coloured ones may either be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) or the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). All 3 species are recorded as being found this far east, however the references state the sp.vittata is found in soil pockets on granite this far east, which does not match the habitat these ones were found in.
2nd stop – Bush block opposite Stafford Road, further north on the Esperance-Coolgardie Highway. More Banded greenhoods found as well as a good patch of Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves. The surprise find though was a large hood of Robust snail orchids (Pterostylis dilatata) growing under the protection of the shrubs. These orchids flower May to August between Northampton and Toolinna.
3rd stop – Boydell Road, even further north along the Highway. Nothing found other than more Hare orchid leaves so our final and 4th stop is our usual location on Fleming Grove Road. Further Banded greenhoods found, plus some Hare orchids still in flower. Past their best but easily recognisable.
Average day for orchids, however it was wonderful to get out under a beautiful blue winters sky. Nothing better than a Sunday drive with orchids as an added bonus.
We awake to a crisp winters’ morning at the Chicken Ranch in Varley. After a leisurely breakfast, we break camp and head straight for Dempster Rock to look for orchids. Nothing in bloom found. Disappointed, we move on and stop at a new location for us, in the Lake Hurlstone Nature Reserve.
This location may prove fruitful in later stages of the season, as it has a few different habitats to check out. We did locate some orchids this time as well, so all is good. First up appears to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) due to its small size and colouring. Further specimens are found with more stem leaves, taller plants and more flowers, so some may be the Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea). I will post pics of all, so please assist with the identification if you can.
Also found lots of spent White bunny orchids, with a lone one still identifiable as such. This one had a crinkled edged stem leaf, so I initially thought it to be the Crinkled-leafed bunny orchid(Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus)which flowers during April and May, hence why only spent flowers were found, except for this late flowering one of course. However, using Florabase, the only listed bunny orchid found in both the Shire of Kulin and the Shire of Kondinin is the Blunt-leaved bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. brevifolius) which flower May and June and only have up to 3 flowers. The leaf is also crinkled-edged so I am happy with this identification. Seems subsp. undulatus has been cancelled in Florabase and the common name of Crinkled-leaved bunny orchid given to subsp. brevifolius. The name game is never ending with native orchids. Also found on the way back to the Triton was a nice specimen of the Dark banded greenhood.
Leaving this new location, we head north to Hyden, where we enjoy an amazing hamburger for lunch. As Richard is running late, we make tracks for Anderson Rocks, our planned destination for this long-weekend.
During the weekend I would climb the rock and record the sounds of the frogs in the FrogID App and then attempt to upload my recordings. I received a reply from the Frog ID App on the 20/07/22 advising they had identified 2 species, so my uploads were successful. The species found were the Bleating Froglet (Crinia pseudinsignifera)and Crawling Toadlet (Pseudophryne guentheri).
After a great long-weekend camping with Richard, Sandy and Noel at Anderson Rocks, it is time to travel home. As per usual we do not travel home in a straight line and try our best to take roads yet travelled. So, from Hyden we make our way to Allen Rocks Road, where we stop at an old rubbish dump it seems, as there is so much rubbish lying around. We found some old Gest cooldrink bottles and an old enamel pot to add to our collection. The only orchids found here were some yet to fully open shell orchids.
Next stop was on Dragon Rocks Road in the Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve. This roadside stop turned up some Dark banded greenhoods. Then further south on the Newdgate Road North at another roadside stop we only found some spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which are also an early flowering orchid.
Final stop for the day other than to fuel up in Lake King and a toilet break in Munglinup. Arrived back in Esperance around 6.15pm and had dinner at our sons’ house, before heading home to unpack. A great weekend but not so great on the orchid front.