Packed up the camper and headed off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy for a long overdue weekend camping trip. We chose Peak Charles National Park as we had not visited since 2015. This years dry winter allows us to visit, as the roads are usually impassable if wet. Consequently we had never visited this early in the season before, so who knows what orchids may be in flower. Although this dry start will also impact the orchids themselves, so it is a two edged sword. Our first stop on the Hwy is Scaddan, where we find Diuris plants with leaves but no flowers as yet. So off we head further north, with next stop being Salmon Gums.
We checked out our usual spot and was lucky enough to find some Midget greenhoods (Pterostylis mutica) which are found from Wongan Hills to the SA border flowering July to October. Fewer flowers than last years visit (15/07/2017) however still happy to find some. Only other finds were spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis tepperi).
We pulled into the travel stop in Salmon Gums and had our lunch, before heading off for Peak Charles. On the drive in just before the Lake King – Norseman Road intersection we checked out a granite rock location and found a lone Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) with an unusual light orangey-brown colouring. Nothing else found.
Upon arrival at the Peak Charles National Park camping ground we were amazed to find it empty, so we enjoyed setting up camp before heading out on a late afternoon check of the surroundings. We went to the place we had found orchids previously and after a lot of searching we finally found some in flower. Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) is a common inland orchid found from Kalbarri to Balladonia, flowering late June to September. Also know as Pterostylis setulosa and found in SA and NSW. An extremely variable species. We explored onto the granite but due to fading light no more sightings made.
Back to camp for dinner, which happened to be lamb chops cooked on the little BBQ, which was a Christmas gift from Jace, Amber and Oliver.
We awoke to a beautiful sunny winters day and enjoyed a bacon and egg breakfast before heading off to explore further. Deb wanted to check out the snail orchids again to get some photos with the Olympus M5, so we headed back to the spot we found them yesterday afternoon.
We then ventured onto the granite rocks and climbed up looking for anything else that may be flowering. The old faithful Resurrection plant was flowering and more snail orchids were found, however they were very few and far between with so many rosettes having only very small buds. Late season it seems.
What?, another Pterostylis but not a snail this time. I found a lone double headed Dark Banded greenhood.
Looking back towards Peak Charles itself, we decided to venture up a wooded slope which incorporated a run-off creek bed. It started out quite open and there were yellow daisies flowering however once the Sheaok trees started the daisies stopped. Deb then stumbles across a nice, small hood of snails which was exciting as the previous ones found were all very spaced apart.
We then pushed into the creek-bed which is strewn with boulders, logs and other debris and Deb yells in excitement. She has never seen so many Cyrtostylis leaves, however only a few were in bud and not yet fully blooming. Oh well we did say earlier, the season appears late at this location.
We spent the next 30 mins or so clambering up and over rocks, logs and between trees and bushes on a 30 degree hill slope in the vain hope of finding some in flower. Alas it was not meant to be ..Many Pterostylis rosettes were found as well.
Back to camp for a late lunch and we now had company as 3 sites had been occupied. Later that afternoon the wind picked up so we rested and watched 4WDs, motorbikes, buggies and quads arrive for what may turn into a rowdy night. However they all disappeared to another camping spot as they numbered too many for this location. Thankyou!!!! After some soup for dinner we climbed into the camper and played cards before crashing into bed. It was a wet n windy night so not a great sleep was had.
Woke up to blue skies but the wind was still gusty. Had eggs n bacon again then slowly packed up. The camper roof was damp so used our gas heater to assist in the drying. Finally got a move on just after 11am. We quickly checked some granite outcrops on the drive back to the HWY but nothing found. Pulled into the Salmon Gums Roadhouse and grabbed a coffee and a meat pie, before making a beeline for Eldred Road. Nothing found near the HWY so we moved to the spot East of the largest lake where we found many Dark banded greenhoods, mainly at he base of the larger trees.
Moving further south we next visit the Red Lake Townsite Nature Reserve where Pterostylis again reign supreme. More Dark banded greenhoods found with the unusual colouring like back at Peak Charles N.P. Also found were some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii), which had formed their hood but had yet to open up the lateral sepals. Also found a lone flowering Midget greenhood.
Final stop was at Truslove Townsite Nature Reserve where we looked for something other than a Pterostylis. Thank goodness we found them. Some donkey orchids were found with others yet to flower. I will name these as Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘Green Range’) which flower July to early September in a range from Denmark to Esperance.
We enjoyed our camping weekend exploring North of Esperance. Pterostylis reigned supreme but we did find our first Diuris species for the season. The number of rosettes and Cyrtostylis leaves found blew our minds. We must get back one day to see if they translate into flowers.