2019 Road Trip – North Walpole to 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 Caldyanup 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!!!

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