Well after spending a few days with family and friends celebrating my late mothers life it was time for the long drive home to Esperance. We had an extra passenger for the drive back, our son Jace. Now this passenger would not allow us to stop along the way to check for orchids. We insisted that we cannot drive all that way without a quick stop to stretch our legs. So, he finally relented and allowed us to make a quick stop at one of our regular haunts.
Pallarup Rocks, south of Lake King, in the Pallarup Nature Reserve, usually has something in flower when we visit. This time the only orchid found flowering was the small but beautiful Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). Now off to Esperance.
After a great nights sleep in the Ezytrail camper, we awake to a beautiful day at Lilian Stokes Rock in the Frank Hann National Park. As the search yesterday proved fruitless we decide to pack up and head west to Lake King. We call into the tavern for lunch and refreshments before starting our orchid hunt.
First up we park up at the roadside stop and venture across the road to the walk trail No. 3 that leads north from the Blue house. There is a lot a rubbish from years gone by along this trail but we do find some Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis). Mostly spent ones are found however on the return trip we did find some still in flower.
The only other recognizable orchid found were some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vitatta) just starting to flower. Nothing more found so we head off to another location.
We head south to a favourite location of ours.; Pallarup Nature Reserve. As it is nearly 3pm we have a quick scout along the track leading to the water tank. It is along here we find the Crinkle-leafed bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. undulatus). Another bunny orchid without the crinkle-leaf is also found. Unsure of the identification so will just name this a ?? bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus). Any help in providing an identification would be appreciated.
We reach the granite rock and head above the catchment wall for where we usually find Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). We are not disappointed, however the numbers are lower.
Leaving Esperance at just after 7am we are finally on our way. This year I will be listing the orchids found at each stop on our journey. I will group the photos of a particular orchid together rather than post them in chronological order. If needed a little narrative about the trip may be added to a location based on anything that occurred on the way to it, during the visit itself or is planned after. Please provide me any feedback on this structure as I am open to suggestions how I can improve the blog or spice it up a bit… Thanks!!
Springdale Nature Reserve
This Nature Reserve was burnt out last summer and has proven this season to be successful in providing excellent orchid finds. Today is no exception.
Turning into Mills road off the South Coast Hwy, west of Munglinup, we stop at one of our regular road verge stops. To our dismay the area had been graded so the usual orchid habitat was destroyed. Luckily some orchids seem to like disturbed ground, whilst other areas had missed the destruction.
Cream spider orchid
Green Range donkey orchid
Mallee banded greenhood
Overshot Hill Nature Reserve
Parking at the free overnight camping area we venture into the creekline to look for the orchids we had found here previously. Again we were not disappointed. Of particular interest were the dual flowered and green coloured Dwarf shell orchids.
Dwarf shell orchid
Pallarup Nature Reserve
Another of our favourite spots, which always seems to have some orchids in flower.
Hairy-stemmed snail orchid
Pink candy orchid
(Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)
Jug orchid, Bull orchid, Antelope orchid, Recurved shell orchid
Western wheatbelt donkey orchid
Mallee banded greenhood
This is only our 2nd visit to this location and I’m glad we made the effort. So many spider orchids with some others thrown in for good measure.
Hairy-stemmed snail orchids
Western wispy spider orchid, Small-lipped spider orchid
Chameleon spider orchid
Joseph’s spider orchid
Gorge Rock Picnic Area
Leaving Varley just after 3.15pm we make tracks for Gorge Rock, 14 kms east of Corrigin, for our overnight stay. Soup and toast for dinner then a well earned rest.
17 different orchid species found today, not too shabby.
We wake up to a beautiful sunny spring morning. A leisurely breakfast was enjoyed as we know our destination today, so no need to rush. It’s after 9am before we finally leave Flat Rock Nature Reserve and head off in an easterly direction down the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. We reach Lake Varley and pull over on the side of the road and decide to check out the flat granite outcrop, which we later find is a part of the Lake Varley Nature Reserve.
Deb finds the first orchid growing under the scrub at the edge of the rock. The wonderful yellow donkey orchids are again flowering at the edge of the rock under the protection of the scrubs. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is know to grow in the region with sightings recorded in Atlas of Living Australia. Kulin shire is also one of the Local Government Areas (LGA) listed in Florabase as being a location for this orchid. Links to these resources are found via the “+” sign at the bottom of every page.
Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. Due the creamy colouring of the flowers they appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) which flowers from August to early-October over an easterly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia, however Kulin LGA is listed in Florabase as a location for this orchid.
Another yellow orchid pops up. The wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is such a cheerful orchid to find. Bright yellow flowers with such random markings; from spots, stripes, blotches to barely none at all. This little grouping has mainly spots. The view back to the Triton provides an indication of the habitat we are exploring.
Other orchids found were a solitary Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) . Both have vast inland ranges and flower during September.
Then a perfect specimen of the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is found in all it’s glory. Another inland orchid but only found from Northampton to Jerramungup, so not as widespread as the Sugar or Hairy stemmed Snail orchids.
Well now the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) turns up to entertain us. They are said to resemble a crucifix due to the petals and lateral sepals.
Then came across more Sugar orchids and a grouping of Western wheatbelt donkey orchids before finally heading back to the Triton. Last small orchids found were the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile)which were camouflaged well in the moss on the granite rock.
Time to move onto our next place to explore. We detour a slight bit to check out Holt Rock. We drive into the day use area of Holt Rock but chose not to go for an exploration, though it looks like a great place to check out another time. Further south we arrive at Varley and go check out a place on the map named Dempster Rock. After a little searching we find a track into the approximate area. Looking out our windows we are rewarded with orchids.
Some old favourites were the first found. Sugar orchids and Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) . Both are common orchids but always a pleasure to find.
Then the spider orchids start jumping out of the woodlands. They have strong yellow tonings and therefore appear to be the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers July to September in the range Paynes Find to Norseman. My references refer to them being yellow, cream or pink-red in colour with either a small pale yellow or pale white red striped labellum. Whiter specimens are found close by.
Identifying the spider orchids is difficult given many overlap in locations and they have similar features. The Western wispy spider orchid and the Ironcaps spider orchid both also have smaller labellums than others plus the Ironcaps spider orchid also varies in colour from creamy-white to pale yellow. All three orchids are shown as being located in the Varley area in the Atlas of Living Australia.
Now we do find other orchids as well, so I will mention these ones now before adding more varied spider orchid photos. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), Little laughing leek orchids, sugar orchids and Western wheatbelt donkey orchids are found.
The most amazing find though was a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). The reason for my amazement – is it’s height of 190mm. The tallest I have ever seen. These orchids are found in all the states of Australia which is quite amazing.
Now back to these other spider orchids. Firstly we found more Drooping spider orchids or are they? Possible hybrid with the c. dimidia as the labellum is very pale in colour with smooth margins. So I will leave the actual identification for now.
Then other spider orchids found. Some in clumps and some in isolation but all beautiful as ever. Some white, whilst others had reddish tones. Any help in naming these would be appreciated.
Getting peckish, so we finally leave this great new location and head back to Varley then down to Lake King for a meal at the tavern. After a great counter lunch and beer, we cruise further south to one of our favourite patches, Pallarup Rock. Located in the Pallarup Nature Reserve this location proves a fruitful orchid patch on most visits. Today is no exception. Within minutes we locate the first of many orchids. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found in many colour variations. This first one is very pale but others are bright pink.
Next up we find some donkey orchids. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid has been recorded in the Lake Grace shire whilst the other possible orchid, the Green Range donkey orchid is recorded in the Ravensthorpe shire which is nearer the coast. The basal leaves observed are not that wide which is causing me some angst in trying to ID them, so I will just posts the pics.
We now move onto the track to the water tank and at the junction find some more Sugar orchids. Then on the side of this track the first orchids found are Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii)which was named in honour of Oswald Sargent in 1905. He was an early West Australian orchidologist and pharmacist from York, where the specimen used to name it was collected in 1904.
Moving along the track the first of the spider orchids appear. The first one is an excellent example of the wispy complex. As there is one lonely specimen I will not attempt to name it, as there are too many variables with these wispy spider orchids. It could be one of three known to this location or a hybrid between two of them.
Close by is another spider orchid, but from the White spider orchid compex this time. As the sepals and petals are not that pendulous I believe this to be the Rigid white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. rigidula) which is found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite bay from August to October. Florabase records Lake Grace and Dundas LGA’s as also being the location of this orchid, so 50kms north of Ravensthorpe in the Lake Grace shire seems appropriate.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as an unnamed subspecies of Caladenia longicauda. I will provide my own common name as Pallarup Rock white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. ‘Pallarup Rocks’). Exciting to find a new subspecies.
A small blue orchid catches Deb’s eagle eye. A lone china orchid is found. This pretty blue orchid has not been found in this location on any of our numerous prior visits, so this is an exciting find. Due to the darker blue colouring, scattered calli on labellum and the location this orchid must be the Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which has the largest range of all china orchids in WA, being from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is August to early-November. The one feature that did cause me confusion with the ID was the colour of the labellum, as the mostly blue labellum conflicted with the pictures in my references, which show the labellum as being mostly white or blue striped.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as the Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) which is restricted to a range between Fitzgerald River National Park and Israelite Bay. My location is 50kms north of this coastline. Flowering period is September to early-November.
Further white spider orchids were found and their features confirm my identification as Rigid white spider orchids. Also another wispy spider orchid is found and this one appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata)which as the name suggests is found over a large area, from Kalbarri to Esperance, flowering during the period July to mid-October.
Next up we come across some Ant orchids. They are also known as Clown orchid, Man orchid and Jack-in-the Box.
More yellow patches are seen growing in the Pincushion plant (Borya constricta) and Sundew (Drosera). The Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October. The latin name antennifer (antennae) refers to the little lobes on the column.
Many more spider orchids are found together with patches of Cowslips and Blue beards popping up here and there. A wonderful kaleidoscope of colours.
A relative of the Ant orchid is also found in the scrub around the rock. The Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) is a common orchid found between Ravensthorpe to Israelite Bay. We have previously found these orchids east of Esperance at Condingup so we have now found them at both edges of their range.
Other orchids found in our exploration of Pallarup Rock are the Jug orchid, Little laughing leek orchid and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (or is it?) .
4.30 in the afternoon so time to move on to Ravensthorpe for our overnight stay. We spend our last night of our road trip as we did on our first night. Staying with our son, Timothy in his little duplex unit in Ravensthorpe.
Went to bed happy to have discovered at least 19 species today, which is amazing. Also a tinge of sadness as tomorrow is our final day.
Leaving Kwolyin by our usual 10am we head south towards Corrigin on Shepherd Road and choose to visit Pikaring Nature Reserve which is located on the Old Beverley Road. This is a new location for us so we drove slowly along until we found a place to park the Triton and camper well off the road. We then went exploring.
Woohoo, finally we find some orchids. Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) are found growing on the rock which is the main feature of this reserve. These orchids flower June to September and are found in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as well as in WA. Here they are found from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove, but do not occur in the South west corner.
Can have up to 12 stem leaves
Broad joined lateral sepals
Flowers have a nodding appearance
Only other orchids found were some spent White bunny orchids, so after morning tea we move on, but not too far before we pull off the road into Boolanelling Nature Reserve, which is very open woodland habitat. No luck in finding any orchids in flower but we did find Redbeak, Spider and Sun orchid leaves and Pterostylis rosettes. The place was also occupied by lots of large termite mounds.
As it is already afternoon we move on. We planned to visit Talbot rock however it was in private property we had to forgoe this spot. Arriving in Yealering, we have another cuppa soup lunch, this time overlooking a somewhat dry lake, before grabbing a takaway coffee as a special treat. Now we need to decide where we are going to camp the night.
About 15kms away is Malyalling Nature Reserve, which we have visited before, so we decide to check it out again. On the old sportsground, which is not a part of the Nature Reserve we find a suitable spot to camp. It even has a shelter with an existing camp fire spot. A quick look around over the rock and through the woodlands only turned up leaves, rosettes and some yet to flower Pterostylis orchids.
Our campsite for the night
All set up for a great night under the stars
After another wonderful nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we pack up and head off, as our quick search last night was enough to confirm this to be another orchidless location, for now. We make a beeline to Toolibin Nature Reserve, which contains Toolibin Lake, and have a search of the woodlands along the track leading into the picnic area. Last visit turned up lots of orchids but no such luck today.
Next location to checkout is Yilliminning Rock as we have previously driven past without stopping, usually due to time constraints on a drive home from Perth, however today we have time. Parking up in the picnic area, before enjoying lunch, we decide to check out the rock. After a good 10 mins of searching we come across some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) which flower April till September in locations between Perth and Balladonia. Whilst I’m getting some photos Debbie yells out in excitement as she has finally found another type of orchid.They appear to be Green-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis scabra) which flower May to August over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance.
Found growing on granite rock
So many rosettes with only a few flowering
Petals and dorsal sepal join to form hood
Prominently protruding labellum
Shell orchids in the foreground
Nothing more found on the rock other than what appears to be Elbow orchid leaves, so after finding the striking Sea-urchin hakea (Hakea petiolaris) we make our way back to the surrounding woodlands for the trek back to the picnic area. In this woodland I find more Banded greenhoods, however some are brown in colour but do not appear to be Dark banded greenhoods, due to the lateral sepals being more elongated than broad.
Leaves will be withered by flowering time – Oct to Jan
Bright green colour
Light brown colour – Not usual
This flower was growing on a bare branch
Very tall specimen
Light brown coloured specimen
Sign at picnic area
After enjoying lunch we head into Narrogin to get some supplies. We visited the Dryandra Country Visitors Centre and obtained information on the local reserves. We chose to check out Foxes Lair a reserve in the town boundary. We drove through the reserve and decided to park at the Arboretum carpark and take the Granite Walk. This walk is 1.2km in length and incorporates the Arboretum. It was a pleasant walk however was not producing any orchids until we reached the section of granite boulders. Here we found some Dark banded greenhoods.
Can grow up to 400mm in height
Granite habitat of Dark banded greenhoods
Insect-like labellum flicks up when triggered by pollinator
Growing in the Sheoak needles
Little group growing close to granite
As it is now after 3pm we make a move to an area called Newman Block where there are some more marked walk trails. Due to limited time before sunset, we decided we had better find an overnight camp spot. As we slowly checked out the woodlands I spy a Banded greenhood at the side of the track. As Deb reverses back so I can grab a photo, she sees a very small White bunny orchid. Exact ID unknown.
Flowers more upright than Dark banded greenhood flowers
Exact species unknown
We find a camping spot and set up for another night around the campfire. Today proved a much more fruitful day so fell asleep quickly after a good feed and a few bevvies.
Campfire lit in cleared area.
This morning after breaking camp we set off on the Sandplain Walk which skirts an incline before we climb this to the sandplain. On the incline up we finally find a Dark banded greenhood in flower.
Wonderful woodland habitat
Typical nodding nature of flower
Once on the elevated sandplain the vegetation changes and we come across many Hare orchid leaves. Then finally we come across one in flower. The Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) flowers March to June over a large range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. A little further along we come across others in flower.
Location we found the Hare orchids
Striking a pose
Size comparison to Debs hand
Nice double header.
Leaving the sandplain we head into a thicket of trees where we find some Banded greenhoods. One of which was a good 350mm in height, so took a photo alongside my lower leg for scale.
Green and white stripes. Flowers do not nod
Height comparison to my lower leg
We arrive back to the Triton and camper around 11.30am and make tracks for our next planned stop. This being near Piesseville (Mud Map SE14) which did not turn up anything other than leaves ready for later in the season. So we travel via Piesseville to the North Wagin Nature Reserve where we grab some lunch. Then time to look around. So many Banded greenhoods found, some with really crowded inflorescences.
Trio of plants
Very full inflorescence
We fill up the Triton in Wagin before moving onto a new location. Just southeast of Wagin is Puntapin Rock on Puntaping Rd. We go for a exploratory walk up the rock and only find leaves and sprouts of unknown origin.
Possible Shell or Frog greenhood.
Leaving the picnic area
So now we need to find a campsite for tonight. Passing through Dumbleyung we head east and finally pull into an old gravel pit near Tarin Rock. We light what will be our last campfire of the trip and enjoy a red wine. Cooked up a meal in the camp oven and settled in for a cold night.
Deb stoking the fire
Camp oven stew.
Checking dinner cooking on the fire
Woke up to a foggy morning, so jumped out and got the fire going for some warmth. After our last breakfast on the road we pack up camp and head to a usual stop, the Lake Grace Lookout. It is still so dry here so we expect to find nothing. However under the usual bush I find the stand of greenhoods.
Lots under this one bush
Still yet to open
Stopping in Lake Grace we grab a coffee at Cafe Arjo, which was really yummo, then drive on to Newdegate. We had to grab a photo of the CBH Silos before buying last minute supplies at the general store. Then it was eastward to Lake King.
Notice the Cowslip orchids with the lizard
First up we grab lunch at the Lake King Tavern before heading off on Walk Trail No.1 which takes us from the Tavern to the General Store. Then we take Walk Trail No.3 back to the tavern on a 3.6km loop into the woodlands. There was so much rubbish in the woodlands including a caravan, 2 tractors, car bodies and so many rusted tins. Also though we did find more greenhoods and many Pygmy orchids, which of course had finished flowering for the season.
Yet to fully open.
All flowers now finished
Showing typical habitat
Making it back to the Triton we head off for Pallarup Nature Reserve or more exactly Pallarup Rocks, which usually bring the goods. We did find orchids but not many. Dark banded greenhoods and a solitary Hare orchid.
Dark brown lateral sepals
Best shot taken in the windy conditions
Well we pull into Raventhorpe at 4.45pm and set up the camper in the front yard of the unit our son, Tim, is renting. Was great to catch up with him, have a hot shower, play Tri-ominos and eat dinner indoors. We do however sleep in out camper so hot water bottles are again filled.
Tim leaves for work before 6am, as we hear him leave but remain in our warm bed until later. After breakfast we pack and and make tracks for home. We do stop in at Mills road but no orchids found, so Esperance here we come.
So now the question posed by the title to this post – Was a Jaunt in June Justified?