Whilst having breakfast we are walking around in the sunshine when I spy what appears to be a black poly pipe coming from the leach drain of the Septic Tank at the back of the toilets. However it then moved and scared the beejesus out of me. I called out to Deb who arrived in time to see it wriggle backwards back into its hole. Whoa we steer clear of that area as we pack up. We drove around the back of the toilets as we left and it was back out, sunning itself. It lifted it’s head to watch us move by.
So we now make our way further east to a place called Roe Dam. The dam was initially planned in 1929 but put off as too costly and was finally built in 1970/71, to provide the Mt Walker farming community with water. The catchment area is 140 acres (56ha) of granite rock and the dam holds 20 million gallons (91 million litres). We pull into the old picnic area as the dam area appears to be out of bounds. This old area has working toilets and shade to park up so all good. First stop for the day so off we go exploring.
First orchids found are the Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which as the name suggests are easily identified by their hairy stem. Other than this they are extremely variable in appearance ranging from 50 to 250mm in height, lateral sepals are from 10 to 35mm in length and stem leaves can be 8 to 20mm in length.
Moving towards the granite outcrop we also find a small donkey orchid. This one is much duller than the ones found on previous days. From this it would appear to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers from July to September in locations east of the Albany highway from York down to Tenterden then east to Ravensthorpe. Florabase records the Narembeen shire as one such location.
Then nearby a splash of blue catches our eye. On closer inspection it is a Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is a common orchid found from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay, as well as all the other southern states of Australia. They were originally classified as Caladenia back in 1810, then placed in Pheladenia in 2001.
Another orchid was found in the company of a snail orchid. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is another common inland orchid, being found from Paynes Find to Israelite Bay. It is a distinctive white flowering orchid with purple lined labellum lobes.
Then just before we reach the granite another type of orchid is found. The Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) is one of the most regularly encountered orchids of the Wheatbelt. It flowers from Eurardy Station to Ravensthorpe during the months August to October. Named in honour of John Septimus Roe, the first surveyor general of WA in 1873.
Upon reaching the granite outcrop, we slowly ascent and find another donkey orchid growing in the vegetated sections of the rock. The bright Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) is found again which is not surprising as they range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums over the months of August and September. It is great to find 2 species of Diuris in the one location.
I get caught up taking lots of photos and Deb gets to scout ahead. She calls out that she has found loads of Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophylum gracile) of both colour variations. So over I trot to grab some photos and there is Deb laying down getting her own shots. These little guys are very widespread and flower over a 4 mth season.
We are now looking down at the dam, which is fenced off so we decide to descend to the woodlands below and make our way back to the picnic area. As soon as we leave the rock and enter the woodlands we discover another spider orchid. This time it is the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which are found from Northampton to Jerramungup during the period August to October. As the name suggests both the petals and sepals usually droop down. We find loads of these orchids throughout the woodlands, many in clumps, which is a feature of this orchid.
Intermixed with all the drooping spider orchids were more Blue beards, Ant orchids and the favourite Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which we have not seen for a while now (Last found 31/8 in Bunbury).
Now there was one special little orchid found which had yet to fully unfurl, but we had to grab a photo or two. It appears to be a hypochromic Drooping spider orchid.
Time to move on, so we jump in the Triton and head south to Hidden Hollow at Mt Walker. First up we have a bite for lunch then decide to take the Hidden Hollow Walk Trail. There is a small dam built at the base of the rock. The sign advises it was built to wash out the hessian bags which were then dried on the rock. This pre-dated the introduction of bulk handling of grain and fertilizer.
We make it to the so called Amphitheatre without sighting any orchids which was disappointing. However in the wet moss on the rocks below this feature Deb finds many more Little laughing leek orchids. Some of them are really dark in colour.
As the rock did not produce much in the way of orchids we decide to make the way back to the parking area via the woodlands at the base of the granite. Within minutes we have found a different orchid. The common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found. This is by far the most common and widespread of the four subspecies. In close proximity is the likeable Ant orchid
A little further along we discover one then many more Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower from August to October over a range from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. Distinctive feature are upswept lateral sepals which are narrowly clubbed.
Among all these Fringed mantis orchids are other Ant orchids and a lonely Sugar orchid. Plus some greenhoods were found, however they had finished their flowering and had closed up. Then one was found with two flowers still open and from the colouring, size of plant and number of flowers I believe this to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which flower until early September in inland locations from Northampton to Eyre.
Then to top of our finds we come across some wonderful Caladenia hybrids. The Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) is a hybrid between the Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava) and the Pink fairy (Caladenia latifolia). Narembeen is a location for both these parents so seems fitting we find their babies.
We make it back to the Triton and decide to head off without really knowing where we will stop next. Taking the road back towards Narembeen, we actually miss the town as we come out south of it on the Kondinin-Narembeen Road. We drive through Kondinin and move down towards Kulin, where we decide to check out the below pictured trail again, which is located just out of Kulin.
The trail is around 1.1km in length, so off we trot on our search for orchids. First up we come across some Jug orchids, which are unique in the shape of their flowers. Other common names are: Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
Next up we find some small white spider orchids. From the size of the labellum I will be calling these ones the Western wispy spider orchids (Caladenia microchila) which flower from July to October over an inland range of Kondinin to Madura.
Then we move from white spider orchids to green spider orchids. A wonderful pair of Fringed mantis orchids is found. Their leaves were so healthy when compared to other mantis orchids found, so just had to get a photo of them.
Now time to find orchids that are not from the Caladenia genre. Lucky for us the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) start to appear along the side of the track. Found from Northampton to Grasspatch during the season July to October, the Frog greenhood is a common inland orchid.
Then we find a bevy of orchids of different types within cooee of each other. There is the Sugar orchid, Jug orchid, Mallee banded greenhood and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid.
Whilst jostling around to get the photos a lone speck of pink catches my eye. There is a Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which cannot be seen from the track, however as I was off the track taking photos it came into view. These little beauties grow from July till October between Northampton and Esperance.
Further along the track a donkey orchid appears. Then others show up the more we explore. The ID is difficult as the single one appears bright yellow with dark markings, which is akin to the Yellow granite donkey orchid, however the mutli flowered one is paler with lighter marking so appears to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid. Florabase records Kulin as a location for the later only so I will leave it up to others the help with the positive ID.
Further orchids found, however nothing new so took a few more pics before heading back to the Triton for the final leg of today.
Heading east from Kulin we turn south towards Pingaring to see if there was somewhere to camp overnight. We drove around the edge of the bush block that incorporated the golf course and Nature Reserve but there was no obvious place to stay. So back to the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. Heading further east we finally pull into a gravel pit at the edge of Flat Rock Nature Reserve. This will be our camp for the night.
So today was very much unplanned but we found loads of orchids, which is great. We found 15 species, 1 hybrid and 1 hypochromic orchid, so definitely one of our better days this trip. After a beautiful sunset we hit the sack.