2019 Road Trip – Shannon to Sue’s Bridge

Blackwood River NP, Boorara-Gardner NP, Brockman NP, Greater Beedelup NP, 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.

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