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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.

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Cowslip Orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

2019 Road Trip – Caron Dam Reserve to Burakin

Latham, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Xantippe

03/09/2019

Destination unknown we head off south down the Mullewa Wubin road. Just past Latham we turn east and pull into the Latham Nature Reserve for a quick look. We both head into the reserve in different directions. After looking around and into the reserve a bit we conclude that the only orchids are the ones on the verges with the roads. On one verge we find some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which are located between Kalbarri and Balladonia during the months of June to September. Common inland snail orchid which is extremely variable in appearance.

Another species found on this verge is the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) which flowers August to October in locations from Eurardy Station to Ravensthorpe. They are the most widespread of the so called Small spider orchids.

On the other verge we found a Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) which occur inland from Kalbarri to Norseman during the months of August to early October.

We move further south to the Maya Nature Reserve however did not find any orchids in our quick check so moved onto the siding of Maya where we took the time to check on their historical display. The townsite was gazetted in 1913 and is now only a receival point for CBH. A world record was set in 2003 when 55 headers harvested a paddock at the same time.

From Maya we head south again, before venturing into Buntine Rock (Mud Map N 38), which as the name suggests is near the small town of Buntine. It is not however located in the nearby Nature Reserve. We have visited this spot previously so parked up and immediately headed onto the flat granite area. Some beautiful Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) were found in flower. These orchids flower from July to October in locations between Shark Bay and Israelite Bay.

More yellow orchids are found, however these are from a different genus. The Pale donkey orchid (Diuris pallescens) is found which flowers from late-august to late-September between Moora and Minganew. This location is a bit further east however recordings have been logged in Atlas of Living Australia, so I am happy with this identification. Other donkey orchids found though appear to be the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta) as the flowers are much more colourful, petals are broad and rounded, plus the lateral lobes to the labellum are narrower. East of recorded location, Bindoon to Northampton and they flower late-July to early-September, so I may be in error, so please correct me if wrong.

Moving on we stumble across a nice trio of Ant orchids in the midst of the donkey orchids. The fourth orchid is still in bud.

Then an exciting find is made. Our first dragon orchid of the season is found growing underneath the shrubbery. The Narrow-lipped dragon orchid (Caladenia mesocera) flowers from August to early-October in inland locations from Pingrup to Paynes Find. This is the first time we have found this orchid species so very excited indeed.

Our attention is then drawn back to the donkey orchids which are everywhere.

Some of the donkey orchids are brighter yellow, so appear to possibly be another species. I will call these ones the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) which flower during August and September on inland granite and breakaway habitat from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums.

Also discovered a patch of Kalbarri cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata). As they appear to be covered in blotches rather than regular patterns, I am confident in this classification. Maybe to ones found yesterday near Eneabba were also Kalbarri cowslips. If so please correct me an I will go back and edit that post. A little south of Perenjori which is listed as their southern boundary, however sightings in Atlas of Living Australia confirm Buntine Rock as a location. These orchids flower from July to early-September as far north as Shark Bay.

We climbed to the top of Buntine Rock for the 360 degree views then made our way back to the Triton and camper. On the way we find further Ant and Dainty Blue orchids.

Leaving Buntine Rock we head south to Dalwallinu, where we have a counter meal in the local pub, before shopping for some supplies. Now we head east on the Dalwallinu-Kalannie road, taking a detour into the Xantippe Nature Reserve and park up at the water tank. The water tank was constructed in the 1920’s to supply water to Dalwallinu however due to issues pumping the water over the surrounding hills , this was abandoned with water being used by the local farmers instead.

Xantippe tank

It is now around after 3pm, so we have a quick look around the granite near the tank. More Ant orchids and Lemon-scented sun orchids are found.

Then a little orchid is found and on closer inspection, further Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) are found. These little guys flower from July to October over a vast range from shark Bay to Eyre. They vary from the standard yellowy-green colouring to purplish.

Now time to move on and get to our newly chosen overnight stop. We are popping in on my cousin Mary-lou in Burakin, where she is now the sole resident. Pulling up we find a caravan already set -up so were unsure if we would be able to stay. However the caravan was another cousin, in fact Mary-lou’s eldest brother Ian and his wife. So it was a great reunion given I have no memory of every meeting Ian before this. It turns out he is the oldest male and I am the youngest male of the fraternal side of our families. Fancy that!!

10 species found today, so we hit the sack happy.

2019 Road Trip – Bedfordale to Caron Dam Reserve via Lake Indoon

Caron Dam, Depot Hill, Dookanooka, Lake Logue, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Other Reserves, Road Trip

01/09/2019

Waking up a bit better than expected after a heavy night socialising we enjoy a cooked breakfast then thanking our hostess, Sandy, we head off to catch up with family for the day. After spending the day with family, we head off from Deb’s brother’s place in Attadale around 3pm and make our way north. At 5.30 we pull into Caltex at Cataby where we enjoy a huge roast dinner, before heading up to Lake Indoon where we set up the camper and have a good nights sleep.

02/09/2019

Waking up to a crisp morning I take a quick check down the track we had parked near. I spied a couple of nice White spider orchids so went back to have breakfast feeling blessed to be in the great outdoors with orchids waiting to be found. There are many campers at Lake Indoon however not to many seem to be looking in the bush so when we finally head off on our hunt, we do so in peace. (Mud Map N 13a, 13b)

I immediately head back to my White spider orchids whilst Deb finds a great patch of Cowslips (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). The spotted markings pointed to the Kalbarri cowslips orchids but the red lines and southerly location do not support this, unfortunately.

Now my White spider orchids could be one of 3 sub-species found in our current location. Ok so I believe some of the White spider orchids found were Daddy long-legs white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. borealis) due to the labellum having very long fringe segments.

Others seem to be Coastal white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. calcigena) due the the labellum calli moving out of rows into irregular agglomerations. The labellum is relatively narrow which is very evident in a hypochromic specimen found.

The third sub species found in this location is the Small-lipped white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. albella) which is similar but smaller to Daddy long-legs, however prefers damper situations and has been known to grow with the base of the stem in water.

All 3 subspecies flower during September and include Eneabba or thereabouts in their listed distributions, so I am happy to believe I found all 3 this time round.

Back in 2016 we paid Lake Indoon our first visit and an unusual orchid was found everywhere, however we were getting worried we missed it this time. However the Arrowsmith spider orchid (Calaedenia crebra) starts to show itself finally. These orchids flower in August and September, in limited near coastal locations, between Jurien Bay and Dongara.

A single Pink fairy (Caladenia latifolia) is found on the other side of the road with many more Arrowsmith and White spiders. Initially I thought it was a Pale pink fairy however they do not appear to flower this far south.

Now to top of the finds for the day the named hybrid, Northern sandplain spider orchid (Caladenia x coactescens) is also found. This is a hybrid between the Arrowsmith spider orchid and the White spider orchid. My references name the White spider orchid parent as Caladenia borealis. Back on the south of the road we stumble across 3 more hybrid flowers, which is amazing.

We now head back to the camper to pack up, as we left it set up to dry completely in the sun, due to it still being damp in the morning when we left for our exploration. Just after 10am we leave camp but get no further than a few kms down the road at the Lake Logue Nature Reserve. (Mud Map N 11) Walking north of the Coolimba Eneabba Road along a track, Debs heads east and I head west.

I come across Cowslips and nothing else, which is untrue, the wildflowers are beautiful just no other orchid species. Deb on the other hand finds Cowslips and some Donkey orchids. They appear to be Arrowsmith pansy orchids (Diuris tinkeri) which flower late July to late September in a northerly range from Yanchep to Geraldton. They do not have the stated purple colouring though, so I may be incorrect. Moving back over the road, near where we parked Deb finds some more donkey orchids.

We now move on to the very eastern boundary of the Nature reserve and turn south down Erindoon Road. (Mud Map N 10) Pulling up on the edge of the road we check the western side of the road and find more cowslips. First found are the standard cowslip, however some small ones that appear to be Kalbarri cowslips (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata) are also found. The spotted markings on the flower are not random but in distinct lines so unfortunately they appear to be the standard cowslips as well.

Moving further south we stop at a creek crossing, dry of course, to see what may be around. Only found further cowslips and a beautiful Green Jewell beetle (Stigmodera gratiosa) on a Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) plant.

Next stop is the intersection of Brand Highway and the Eneabba Three Springs Road. This is an un-named Nature Reserve where we find more cowslips and better coloured Arrowsmith pansy orchids. Now time to find somewhere nice to have lunch.

Along the Eneabba Three Springs Road we pull into the Depot Hill Nature Reserve for lunch. Of course we also go exploring. Well this was a great idea as we come across numerous spider orchids. Now all I have to do is identify them. My first find was a Caladenia longicauda sp. whilst Deb finds a spider orchid from the filamentosa complex.

The orchid found by Deb appears to be the Yellow spider orchid (Caladenia denticulata subsp. denticulata) which flowers August to early October in locations from Waroona and Eneabba. This subspecies is a pale yellow-green coloured flower with white red striped relatively narrow labellum.

Harder to ID is the White spider orchid. Seem to be more Small-lipped white spider orchids however the situation does not appear to be overly damp so may actually be Daddy long-legs or Coastal white spider orchids. Many others found over this location which could be either species. All 3 possible sub-species have been named below. Please correct my identification if incorrect.

Many other Yellow spider orchids were found along the way . Some may be other species so again please correct me if I am incorrect with my identification.

A non spider orchid was finally found. The bright yellow Cowslip orchid is found, however only the one. Heading downhill, back towards the Triton a Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) yet to fully open is located.

Then a lone donkey orchid is found. It was nearly missed as it is so small. The Wild Orchid Watch colour/size card and 5 cent piece are used for size appreciation. Also measured the height of the orchid, which was 150mm. The reflexed dorsal sepal , prominently crossed lateral sepals and lateral lobes much smaller than the mid lobe of the labellum are distinctive features that unfortunately do not assist in identifying this little orchid..

Back at the Triton we sit down and have a bite to eat before moving east towards Three Springs. On the way we skirt into Dookanooka Nature Reserve, but no orchids were spied from the Triton so we just keeping driving. As we do not need to stop, we drive straight through Three Springs, but then decide to check out the Talc mine. This mine is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and 2nd most productive in the world.

Time keeps slipping away as as it is now after 3pm we make tracks for our planned overnight stay. Passing through Perenjori we head south to the Perenjori-Rothsay Road where we pull over to ring up and book our campsite at Charles Darwin Reserve. Unfortunately we are unable to book a site without an EPIRB, Satellite Phone or HF Radio. Now what will we do, as this was a planned stop for a couple of nights. Checking the good old Hema Map book, we find a camping ground only 14kms south called Caron Dam Reserve, so off we head.

The camping ground is very sparse, with little shade so we park up close to the dam and set up the camper. It may prove a noisy night as we are only 100 metres or so off the Mullewa-Wubin Road. Now time to go exploring this historic site. First up we discover a spent spider orchid then a great patch of donkey orchids. The spider orchid appears to be the Perenjori spider orchid (Caladenia remota subsp. parva) which flowers from August to mid-September in a limited range from Wubin to Perenjori. The main feature that should confirm the identification are petals being back-swept and elevated basally. Further specimens are found including those with petals barely elevated basally. These may be another species.

The group of donkey orchids appear to be Pale donkey orchids (Diuris pallescens) which flower late-August to late-September between Moora and Mingenew. Reference to Atlas of Living Australia though indicate sightings south of Perenjori which agrees with my classification. Distinctive features include erect petals, recurved apex to dorsal sepal and prominently reflexed lateral sepals which are crossed.

We make our way around the dam and head off up the feeder drain. It is in the drain that Deb comes across a snail orchid. This is the first Pterostylis orchid in quite a while. This one plus others found later appear to be the common Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which is found over a vast area from Kalbarri to Balladonia and also in NSW and SA.

Another new species for the day was found on the plains surrounding the feeder drain. A Candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta) is growing under a tree. These little orchids grow during the period, late-August to early November, over a near coastal range from Arrowsmith to Albany. Creamy-white colouring with no hint of pink confirms this classification as the other WA subspecies, Rosea, is coloured pale to deep pink.

Making our way back to camp we come across more snail, spider, donkey and candy orchids. Grabbed some pics but feel no new species were found.

Back at camp some neighbouring campers invited us to share their fire, so we enjoyed a night with company and went to bed knowing that even though our plans were thrown into disarray we still had a awesome day in the great outdoors exploring for orchids. At least 14 species/sub-species found which is wonderful.

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River to Bedfordale

Numerous days, Road Trip

31/08/2019

Having a lazy morning we check out at 10am. Catching up with Alice a friend from Esperance, who now lives in Margaret River is our plan for this morning. She works at Jarvis Estate where we will do some more tastings. However prior to arriving we pull over into the power line clearing off Osmington Road for a quick scout.

In the bush between the power lines and Bussell Hwy I find many snail orchids. Karri snail orchids (Pterostylis karri) seem to be the species. On specimen found is 250mm in height. these orchids flower August to early December in locations between Margaret River and Walpole. Long thin lateral sepals and pointed dorsal sepal seem to confirm this identification. Some leaves appear crinkled so initially thought them to be Slender snail orchids.

Deb is searching on the other side of the power lines and calls me over as she has found some Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii).

Also on her side were some snail orchids, however these ones appear to be Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) due to the red colouring.

Couple of snail orchids found with one appearing to be a Karri snail orchid but the other may be an early Red-sepaled snail . Length and thickness of lateral sepals seem to indicate they are different species.

Its nearly 11am so we made tracks to Jarvis Estate to catch up with Alice. This was her last few days at the estate as she has changed jobs, so we were privileged to have a private cellar door, which included having a taste direct from the barrel. As has become the norm we left with a few purchases. Forgot to take any photos which is not good, but we did have a great time catching up with Alice.

Heading west, then south we venture onto Mowen Road to go further west to Sues Road. Here we turn north and follow it all the way to Bussell Hwy then turn left to travel towards Bunbury. We plan to visit Manea Park (Mud Map SW 5) in College Grove. Pulling off the road at the round-a-bout we park up and make our way to the walk trail entrance.

After checking out the map we head off on the trail for the 2.3km walk. First up we find some snail orchids. Unable to identify the species though.

Next up on both sides of the track we find our first Donkey orchids. Very poor specimens. However just a little bit into the bush was an exciting find. A Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) is found. These orchids flower August to early November in locations between Albany and Bindoon. The up-swept clubbed petals and dense band of calli are distinctive features.

A splash of yellow catches my eye and there two small Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) are blooming brightly in the dull bush. Others are found along the track and the variation in shape, yellow colour and red markings are evident in the flowers sighted.

Another great find was the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which has very prominent clubs to petals and sepals. These orchids flower late July to mid-October over a range from Bindoon to Esperance. Only a sole specimen was found today however. So very lucky.

Better specimens of donkey orchids found further along the track. From all those found it appears there may be more than one specie found. With the purple coloured mid lobe to the labellum one appears to be the Yalgorup donkey orchid (Diuris porphyrochila) which is located from Mandurah to Bunbury, possibly as far south as Margaret River, from late August to early October. They can hybridise with the Sandplain donkey orchid (Diuris tinctoria) which is also found in the same locations and flowers during September and October. Other flowers found appear to be these Sandplain donkeys. Then some shorter orchids with lateral sepals that are not crossed may be Kemerton donkey orchids (Diuris cruenta) which flower similar times and range from Lake Clifton to Capel. So who knows, we may have found three species or just versions of one. I’m open to suggestions as to correct identification.

Also found was a very bent sole specimen of the Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers August to October over a large range from Esperance to Jurien Bay.

Further Pterostylis orchids are found. Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) are found in isolated patches as well as the good old Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata). Also many more snail orchids are found which I will not attempt to name at this time.

Moving on as it is way past 1.30pm and we have not had lunch yet. We pull into the Bunbury Farmers Market and are super impressed by the set-up. Awesome place to shop for fresh food, however we also picked up some great ready made salads for lunch. Now time to head into the city and catch up with friends in Bedfordale.

We arrived just before 6pm and unpacked ourselves into the house and started socialising. However as we were in the Perth hills, on a bush block, I took an opportunity to check out as much as I could in the fading light. Right on the boundary with the neighbours I find some very impressive specimens of the Silky blue orchids.

Travelled a few kilometres today but was still able to find some great orchids. Leaping spider, Reaching spider, Silky blue and possibly 3 Donkey orchids all new finds for the season, so can not expect much better.

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River

Numerous days, Road Trip

Waking up to a wet day we decide to book another night, if we can and spend the day being a tourist in Margaret river. We were in luck with being able to book another night so we then planned our day. Last night we had organised to meet up with an old friend, Duncan, at Knotting Hill Estate. First point of call was Bettenay Wines which also specialises in Nougat.

After sampling a few liqueurs and nougat, we make our purchases then moved on to The Grove Distillery. Here I pay to taste the Rums whilst Deb and Richard taste other things. We end up buying quite a few small bottles of pre-mixed drinks for Christmas. The gardens around The Grove made for some nice photos.

Next point of call was to be the Margaret River Chocolate Co. but we got a bit lost and found the Margaret River Dairy Company instead. Some nice tasting enjoyed before buying some yoghurt and cheeses.

Next we visited the Margaret River Nuts and Cereals where we sampled more and purchased more. Becoming a habit of the day it seems. They are developing the place to have outside games and there was a great marionette mural which was begging for a photo shoot.

Finally reached the Margaret River Chocolate Co. where the samples were few and limited. Prices were a bit steep as well so we settled on buying a coffee only. After taking a relaxing time drinking our coffee it was time to meet Duncan for lunch.

We arrived at Knotting Hill Estate before Duncan, so we had started our tastings and found out they only provide platters not actual meals. After Duncan arrived and had his tastings, it was decided we would try another winery for lunch. Not before we all bought our share though.

The winery chosen to have lunch at was Woody Nook Wines, where we started with a few tastings of course. A triple pack of Nooky Delight was purchased and shared between us, Richard and Duncan. We then moved into the restaurant area and grabbed a round table and ordered beers. Deb and I ordered a Tasting plate to share, which was an amazing array of tastes and textures. So worth it. After a great catch-up with Duncan it was time to depart.

Back to our cabin for a quick rest before we take the so called 10 minute walk into town. It may take a normal person 10 minutes power walking but we were looking out for orchids so it was a bit more leisurely paced. The logs were so covered in moss it was so cool to see. Many round orchid leaves found but it appears we have missed the flowering. Then amazingly we find a Corybas in flower. A solitary Common helmet orchid (Corybas recurvus) was found growing in the moss on a fallen tree trunk.

Then a bit further on also growing on a fallen tree truck in the green moss, were some Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) with the distinctive crinkled leafed rosette.

Moving on as it was getting late, we finally get to town and pop into the local IGA for some drinks. The walk back detoured via the Margaret River Fish Ladder which was an interesting construction.

Back to the cabin where we had dinner and crashed after a full on tourist day. Lucky to find 2 orchid species on the day. Will have to return one day as there is so much to see and do in this neck of the woods.

2019 Road Trip – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

Blackwood River, Leeuwin-Naturaliste, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip

29/08/2019

Waking up to another wonderful morning in the bush, we enjoy breakfast then pack up the campers before going on an exploration to the river bank. Right on our doorstep, or more accurately, the edge of our camping site we find a great patch of Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) which flower July through September from Kalbarri to east of Esperance, with the largest concentration from Perth to Albany.

Over near the toilets close to a fallen log I find some snails orchids. From the crinkled rosette leaves these must be Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) which are found between Perth and Albany growing in woodlands and forests.

Also discovered on the walk were Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) which have many more stem leaves, thickened lateral sepals and broad petals which have started to turn reddish.

We reached the river bank, west of the actual road bridge, and quickly took some shots before heading back to camp so we could head off towards the coast, leaving the Blackwood River National Park behind. The only other orchid found were some poor specimens of Banded greenhoods (Pterosylis vittata).

Back to the Brockman Hwy we go before turning right towards Karridale. We pull into the sevo at Karridale to fuel up and have a toilet break. From here we cross over the Bussell Hwy onto Bushby road. At the Caves Road intersection we turn right and head north until we find Boranup Drive. Taking this road we head into the Boranup forest (Mud Map SW 26), which is a part of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Our first stop is the Boranup Lookout. From here you could clearly see the coast. I take the short walk to the toilets and it is on the side of this track that I find some Midge orchids. These are brighter in colour however the size of the labellum still leads me to name them Midge rather than Mosquito.

We continue along Boranup Drive until we reach the 4WD track named Love Spring Road. This proved a very picturesque drive however orchids were hard to come by. We actually passed a group of cars which had pulled over for what appeared to be wedding photos. At a low point in the road we pulled over and found some more snail orchids. These little guys have short lateral sepals, a fleshy rosette and multiple stem leaves so I have identified them as Murdoch spider orchids (Pterostylis ectypha), which I have found previously in Yangebup. They flower in a range from Perth and Walpole during the months of August and September.

Further along the track we stop to check out a huge Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissii) and on the opposite side of the track some more Midge orchids are found. Also another Murdoch snail orchid is found.

Love Spring Road runs into Point road, which is just another 4WD track. As we are getting close to Point road Campground, where we plan to stop for lunch, I jump out the Triton to walk a bit. On the side of the track, growing in a mossy mound, I find a nice hood of Murdoch snail orchids. Nothing else found though. Point Road Campground is also located on the Cape to Cape Walk Track. We had planned to stay here the night, however as the weather was deteriorating fast we decided we may get flooded in, so after enjoying a bite to eat we move on to the coast.

Just after 2.30pm we arrive at the coast, very near Cape Freycinet. The wet and windy weather has arrived with a vengeance. In this terrible weather we check out the sights and actually find some snail orchids. A hood was found growing on a boulder right on the verge of Conto Road. The small ones growing right on the rocks of the coast appear to be Coastal short-eared snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal clubbed sepals’) which flower August to October in locations from Perth to Israelite Bay, whilst the ones growing on the boulder appear to be more Murdoch snail orchids.

We have decided we will overnight near Margaret River, so head off on Conto Road, checking out the Conto Campground, where Richard has stayed previously. However we move on as it was very wet with puddles everywhere and we did not wish to set up our campers in this weather. As soon as we got phone signal we googled accommodation options. As a RAC member we finally decided on the RAC Margaret River Nature Park. We booked a 2 bedroom cabin and were so glad we did as the heavens opened up even more overnight.

Was a fun day with an awesome drive through the beautiful Boranup forest and the coast was beautiful even though the weather was terrible. A few orchids found, however I thought we would find more in the South West. Oh well we still have a few days left before we are due in Perth.

2019 Road Trip – Shannon to Sue’s Bridge

Blackwood River, Boorara-Gardner, Brockman, Greater Beedelup, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip

28/08/2019

Waking up to another beautiful day we enjoy our breakfast then decide to set up Richards, dual compartment shower/dunny tent and test it out. Nice hot showers enjoyed by us all. Packing up the tent though proved a very interesting task. Deb and Richard have fun packing this up whilst I go for a quick walk around looking for orchids. Nothing found which as disappointing. Leaving Shannon we pull into an Info stop at the intersection of South Western Hwy and Middleton Road. It had a metal panel in rust and stainless steel recognising the Pioneers who drove stock from the farms to the coast. The newly created Warren Blackwood Stock Route passes through here.

Stock Route memorial

Moving on, we travel West along Middleton Road then turn south into Deeside Coast Road and drive down to check out Big Tree Grove. Heading back we stop at Snake Gully Boardwalk. Impressive trees but no orchids.

Moving further South West we call into Boorara Tree, which was a fire lookout tree. The hut has been removed and a replica placed on the ground to provide us landlubbers a look at the inside of a hut without having to climb up a tree. From here we decide to take the walk to Lane Poole Falls which is on the Canterbury River.

The walk to the falls was quite long and unbelievably no orchids to be found. Lots of fungi, a great lookout over a part of the bush destroyed by bushfire in 2015 and of course the falls were good consolation though. It appears the tree and falls are in a disjunct part of the Boorara-Gardner National Park.

After a nice walk we make it back to Boorara Tree to catch our breath, before moving on to Northcliffe. We did not stop though and continued towards Pemberton. As we pass through the Brockman National Park we pull into a parking bay to have a bite of lunch. Whilst eating our lunch we look around the surrounding scrub for any orchids.

Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are found in numbers with certain specimens being very tall. First one found is around 460mm in height which matches the size mentioned in the Orchid book. However just before leaving I stumble across a patch where one individual plant measured 550mm in height which was then dwarfed by a neighbouring 660mm high plant. It was amazing to find such tall greenhoods.

Onward to Pemberton to get supplies and fuel up. We then return to the Vasse Hwy intersection and head towards Busselton. In the middle of the Greater Beedelup National Park we pull into Beedelup Falls for a look. As usual we also keep an eye out for any orchids. Walking down the path towards the Suspension bridge, just past the toilets I am lucky enough to find some little Cyrtostylis orchids, with one in flower. From the size of the labellum and the dull colouring I will name this orchid the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii).

Then right on the edge of the path at the first turn of the Z turn, we find two snail orchids. They appear to be Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) although they have yet to darken with age. The thickened sepals and broad petals allude to this identification.

We finally reach the suspension bridge which Deb tackles first. She stops in the middle to take photos, so I slowly venture out so as not to sway it too much. However Richard stirs up our vertigo by causing the bridge to sway heavily, or so it felt. Deb and I high tail it off the bridge, the big chickens we are.

The other side of the Beedelup Brook proves to be a haven for Midge orchids. So many are found growing in the lush, wet sides of the track, with one specimen being over 330mm in height.

Now it is time to head to our overnight location . Heading back to the Vasse Hwy we head north to Stewart Road for a shortcut to the Brockman Hwy, where we head west until we reach Sue’s Rd. A short way north we reach Sue’s Bridge campground in the Blackwood River National Park. On arrival we take a drive around the grounds looking for suitable site. Once found we set up camp and look around for some suitable wood for our fire. As the sun started to set Deb hears a scurrying sound nearby. A friendly Common brushtail possum comes to visit. What a wonderful end to a a wonderful day, exploring the beautiful South West of WA in the quest of orchids.

2019 Road Trip – North Walpole to Shannon

Mount Frankland, Mount Frankland South, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Shannon

27/08/2019

After a restful night and a hearty breakfast we pack up and leave Centre Road Crossing campsite, but not before checking out the actual river crossing. Deep River is flowing very strongly, so not to many crossings would be occurring at this time of the year.

We now head back along Centre Road until we hit the South Western Highway, where we turn right and head North until we reach Beardmore Road, which we take to Mount Frankland. Mount Frankland is located in the aptly named Mount Frankland National Park and is a 422-metre high granite monadnock.

First up we check out the spectacular Arrival Space Shelter which provides information on Mount Frankland and the Walpole Wilderness. From here we take the short walk to the Mt Frankland Wilderness Lookout. Prior to getting to the lookout though, we find some snail orchids growing alongside the walk trail. These are possibly the Caldyanup snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘robust’) as they have a loose rosette of leaves, 3 stem leaves, blunt hood and thickish lateral sepals. These orchids are only found between Walpole, Manjimup and Augusta flowering September and October.

EDIT: From information received I feel this one is also the newly named species (Diplodium gracillima ).  However this will need to be verified. The genus Diplodium is recognised in the Eastern states however in WA we retain the genus Pterostylis for snail orchids.

Then another snail orchid is found on the granite rock growing in the moss. This one appears to be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) as the rosette appears to have crinkled edged leaves.

Then amazingly we find another snail orchid. This one is tainted a reddish colour and seems to be the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) which can be found on the margins of granite rocks and turn reddish as they age.

We finally moved onto the elevated walkway to the lookout. What an awesome view, however it moved and was very high, so a bit scary.

From here we head off to the Towerman’s Hut and take the track to the summit. On the shady side of a steep sided granite rock, in the green moss, more snail orchids are found. These also appear to be different, which is amazing. These ones appear to be Southwest granite snail orchids (Pterostylis jacksonii) which grow in the moss on granite outcrops between Walpole and Albany during the period July to September.

We now reach the concrete steps, closely followed by the steel ladders and platforms before reaching the granite summit, which was fenced for safety. On the way up we also found another lone snail orchid which I will not attempt to name. The view from up here was outstanding. 360 degrees. All to soon it was time to descend.

Deb finds a great patch of snail orchids on the way back down. We must have missed these on the way up. Back-tracking does pay off on many occasions. Looking from different directions uncovers many a missed orchid. These small snail orchids have distinct clubbed lateral sepals, so must be another species. Finding so many different snail orchids in one location is mind blowing. The Clubbed snail orchid (Pterostylis glebosa) flowers August to November over an area from Eneabba to north of Walpole.

EDIT: After receiving further information this orchid is possible the newly named (Diplodium saxum) which when recognised in WA will be known as (Pterostylis saxa). This orchid is listed as being found on granite outcrops.

Halfway back we leave the summit trail and head out on the Caldyanup Trail which passes Soho Lookout. This lookout consists of a walkway over a mossy granite slope. These moss covered granite slopes are covered in snail orchids. On one patch possibly 2 types of snail orchids were growing side by side. I took a photo with a 50 cent piece between the 2 types to highlight the difference with size. I believe one of them to be more Southwest granite snail orchids whilst the others may be Granite loving snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘southern granites’), mainly due to the small stature of both orchid and rosette. These small guys grow during August and September in locations from Manjimup to Hopetoun.

Wow this place is certainly turning into snail orchid heaven. On the other side of the track a perfect Southwest granite snail orchid is found, closely followed by a nice family of Granite loving snails orchids.

We now start descending down to the base of the granite outcrop as the Caldyanup trail runs around the base of Mt Frankland. It is down here that we finally locate an orchid that is not of the Pterostylis genus. Richard finds the first Mosquito orchid which was a very poor specimen, however I still took photos just in case it was our only one found.

However many more orchids were found in much better condition. Now identification can be made as Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) due to the duller thinner labellum. These orchids flower July to September over an area from Kalbarri to east of Esperance.

Oh wow its already 3pm so we move on. This walk was amazing as you saw massive Karri trees growing right up against the granite slopes. The trail finishes back at the Towermans hut. We then walk back to the Tritons and we head off. Next stop will be where Beardmore Road crosses Deep River. Fernhook Falls is located in the Mount Frankland South National Park and is both a day use and camping stop. We plan to camp at Shannon tonight so make a quickish stop here to check out the falls and of course look for orchids.

Walking from the carpark to the falls along the bitumen track, we immediately find orchids. The first was an old Slender snail orchid given the crinkled leafed rosette. Then just past that a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) was located. A little further along a yet to flower Bird orchid was discovered close to a nice hood of Slender snail orchids, in much better condition.

Still on the track we locate a Banded greenhood that stands 350mm in height. Together with a patch of Red sepaled snail orchids this concludes the finds prior to reaching the falls.

Down at the riverbank, below the falls we find some other snail orchids growing. These 3 appear to be more Diplodium gracillima snail orchids due to the loose rosette and numerous stem leaves.

We walked along the riverbank to a large pool which was covered in foam that swirled into a circular pattern. The falls and pool were quite impressive. A pity the road crosses over at the actual falls as this ruins the overall view.

Whilst walking back to the parked Tritons we discover a good sized hood of Slender snail orchids and another Banded greenhood.

Now time to move onto to our planned overnight stay – Shannon. Located in the aptly named Shannon National Park, the abandoned townsite of Shannon was a spot we camped with our young children and my mum and dad some 25 years ago. We were immediately shocked at the changes made by the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). The townsite had been completely cleared and a new campsite with no shade or wind protection developed around modern ablution blocks. This may have been done as a bushfire prevention. This did not thrill us at all.

We kept driving around following the direction signs and found the area we had camped at many years ago. This area had not been altered as much, so we located a spot large enough for the both of us and set up for the night. The campfire ring was too high with breathing holes that were too small, so we battled to keep it alive but we managed. Another awesome day on the road comes to an end. 8 orchids species found of which 6 were different Snail orchids. Amazing!!!

2019 Road Trip – Redmond West to North Walpole

Numerous days, Road Trip

26/08/2019

Waking up in the middle of the bush is a great way to start the day. Now the logistics of turning around on the track and heading back to Redmond West road is our immediate concern. We had to reverse the campers back down the track about 100 metres where there was a push back into the bush. Deb completes the manoeuvre reasonably easily however Richard baulks after his first attempt and heads back to where we camped to try his luck. Nothing doing back there so he attempts it a 2nd time and after a bit of toing and froing he also turns around successfully.

Whilst waiting for Richard to catch up I go for a walk ahead and find one lone Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) growing on the verge.

Steady going until we reach the water hazard with the 4 options again. Deb takes it first and travels the same route and ends up in the same predicament. However this time with her toing and froing the camper jumps out of the tracks and becomes bogged in the surrounding marshy ground. I end up stripping down to undies and singlet, then using the small shovel dig out mud so the MaxTrax could be inserted under the camper wheels. With another attempt Deb successfully gets out of the bog. Whilst doing this 3 motorbikes turn up and we find out they had crossed the Hay river. Initially they thought we had as well and were amazed as it would have been too deep for us. They were relieved we had not tried to cross.

Now it is Richards turn. He ends up taking the opposite track and with some speed makes it through on his first attempt. Oh well we know better now to check all tracks thoroughly before making an uninformed decision.

Getting through without bogging down

Finally we reach Redmond West Road and head west back to Hunwick Road and west to Keith Road which follows the Hay River down to the South Coast Hwy. From here we head to Denmark and decide to have a pub lunch. We drop into the Denmark Hotel and order our lunches. We sit outside in the fresh air and enjoy our meals and drinks. We then go for a walk around the town checking out the quaint local shops. I also take the opportunity to visit the bank to say hi and grab some cash. Leaving Denmark we stop just past Walpole at Crystal Springs campground which is in the eastern part of D’entrecasteaux National Park. Way to weedy for us so we move on to the next camping option.

This is Centre Road Crossing which is located in the Walpole Wilderness Area (WWA). Established in 2004, the Walpole Wilderness covers more than 363 000 hectares of national parks, nature reserves and forest conservation areas. It incorporates seven national parks and surrounds the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park. We find this campground empty with enough room for our two campers so we set up camp .

I then go for a little explore and stumble across a nice hood of snail orchids growing on a fallen log some 1.5m above ground level. The crinkled leaves to the rosette provide a clear identification. The Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf’) is found flowering from Perth to Albany during the period late June to September. It is said to grow to 200mm in height however one of those found measures 280mm in height.

Fading light, so time to sit back and enjoy the campfire and company. Not such a great day for orchids but we are now on another adventure. Roll on tomorrow.

2019 Road Trip – Nunijup Lake to Redmond West (Mundal 4WD Track)

Numerous days, Road Trip

25/08/2019

Richard was in contact last night and he is fine to come on the Road Trip, well sort of ?? We plan to meet with him at Tenterden later this morning. So after breakfast we move the camper into the sun to dry whilst we have a morning search of the surrounding area.

We find many orchids, however I will only mention those different to the ones found here yesterday. First up was a very nice specimen of the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which can have up to 25 flowers per orchid. Also found nearby was a fertilised specimen of a Scented Autumn/Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp.) Funnily enough both these can have up to 25 flowers as well.

The donkey orchids found appear to be much paler versions of the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris langifolia). One is found fighting with a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Please feel free to correct my classification of the donkey orchid as I am far from positive on my ID.

A surprise find was a magnificent white spider orchid. A solitary Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta) is in flower with it’s twin yet to open. I have chosen this classification due to the small size of the orchid and the 4 uniform rows of lamina calli. This is the first time we have discovered this species. Exciting find.

It’s nearly 10am and the camper has dried out so we pack up and move on so we can explore another spot before we will need to meet up with Richard in Tenterden. We make our way to Orchid Nature Reserve on Yerimunup Road just north of Tenterden. We had just parked up and headed into the bush when Richard calls asking where to meet exactly as he is in Tenterden. Oh well so much for exploring a new location. It will have to wait for another time.

Richard is still quite unwell but he did not wish to miss out, so we meet up on the Albany Hwy and head down to Albany, via a toilet stop in Mount Barker. At Albany we call into the local IGA at the bottom of York Street to buy supplies. Time to start our 4WD Trek to Mundairing – 900kms of the Mundal Track to go.

Leaving Albany on Princess Royal Drive, we turn into Lower Denmark Road and head to Elleker. Turning north into Marbelup Road we pull over to take our official start of the track photo.

Marbelup Rd – Elleker. On the Mundal Track

We hit the South Coast Hwy however only to turn off pretty much 50 mts down onto Marbelup North Road. We are now on gravel.!! We pull over at the intersection with Cochrane Road to have some lunch as it is nearly 1pm. Taking Cochrane Road west to Hunwick Road, where we continue west for some way. Finally we turn north into Redmond West Road and now have to find the sandy track that will be the real start to the track. Pulling over at what we feel is the right track, we await Richard whilst he checks on his dash GPS, which he is yet to master. Seems to be the correct sandy track so into the unknown we head.

Tame part of the Mundal Track

The track soon turns into mud hole after mud hole and one time we actually drive over a pot hole pitted gravel causeway through a very full swamp. Slip either side and there would be no getting out.

Mudal Track – Just off the gravel causeway

At one spot we got out to check a bog hole and stumbled across some decent sized snail orchids. I am naming this on the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) due to these features: Flared hood, uniformly thickened lateral sepals, hairy stem and dorsal sepal extending beyond the petals. This orchid is found from Mandurah to Albany during the period late July to September. The common name eludes to the fact they age reddish-brown.

We eventually come to a massive bog hole which has 4 choices to get through. After deliberating for too long, Deb finally attempts the track to the far left. Buggar,she gets stuck. After many attempts to rock her way out, the MaxTrax come to the rescue.

Mundal Track – Seconds before getting stuck.

Now Richards turn to tackle the bog hole. Then he has a brain fade and for whatever reason he takes to 2nd track from the left, which proved a big mistake. He is stuck and the water is much deeper. His Triton bottoms out and even using 4 MaxTrax he does not move. Due to the water depth he has to get in and out of his Triton through the drivers window,

Mundal Track – Bad decision

Well we need to try the Snatch Straps. Connecting two together using shackles, Deb unhitches our trailer and reverses as close to the mud hole as she dares. First attempt we here a loud crack so stop dead. It turns out we bent the crap out of one of Richard’s MaxTrax, so nothing too dire. 2nd attempt is successful.. Big sighs of relief.

Onward we go however, a few kms along if that, we come to another large water hazard. There is no chicken track to the left and the one to the right leads to options all driving through rushes in a swampy area. Options limited and with it getting near 4pm we need to find somewhere to set up camp. Nowhere to go, so we set up camp on the actual track. I then suggest walking along the track to the so called river crossing, as if it is too deep then why attempt to get through this large water hazard. Richard and I grab a torch, as we have no idea how far up it is, and head off whilst Deb looks into setting up camp and collecting some firewood. We reach, what we later find out is Hay River, and it is flowing strongly about thigh deep, so way to dangerous for us to try and cross. We make it back to camp around 5.30pm and get the fire raging. We then settle in for a great night around the fire. Later with Hot water bottles filled we hit he sack. Not a great start to our Mundal Track adventure, in fact we have decided not to attempt ant more this time and will come back another year when the track is drier.