2019 Road Trip – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

Blackwood River NP, Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP, 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.

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