2019 Road Trip – Margaret River

Numerous days, Road Trip

Waking up to a wet day we decide to book another night, if we can and spend the day being a tourist in Margaret river. We were in luck with being able to book another night so we then planned our day. Last night we had organised to meet up with an old friend, Duncan, at Knotting Hill Estate. First point of call was Bettenay Wines which also specialises in Nougat.

After sampling a few liqueurs and nougat, we make our purchases then moved on to The Grove Distillery. Here I pay to taste the Rums whilst Deb and Richard taste other things. We end up buying quite a few small bottles of pre-mixed drinks for Christmas. The gardens around The Grove made for some nice photos.

Next point of call was to be the Margaret River Chocolate Co. but we got a bit lost and found the Margaret River Dairy Company instead. Some nice tasting enjoyed before buying some yoghurt and cheeses.

Next we visited the Margaret River Nuts and Cereals where we sampled more and purchased more. Becoming a habit of the day it seems. They are developing the place to have outside games and there was a great marionette mural which was begging for a photo shoot.

Finally reached the Margaret River Chocolate Co. where the samples were few and limited. Prices were a bit steep as well so we settled on buying a coffee only. After taking a relaxing time drinking our coffee it was time to meet Duncan for lunch.

We arrived at Knotting Hill Estate before Duncan, so we had started our tastings and found out they only provide platters not actual meals. After Duncan arrived and had his tastings, it was decided we would try another winery for lunch. Not before we all bought our share though.

The winery chosen to have lunch at was Woody Nook Wines, where we started with a few tastings of course. A triple pack of Nooky Delight was purchased and shared between us, Richard and Duncan. We then moved into the restaurant area and grabbed a round table and ordered beers. Deb and I ordered a Tasting plate to share, which was an amazing array of tastes and textures. So worth it. After a great catch-up with Duncan it was time to depart.

Back to our cabin for a quick rest before we take the so called 10 minute walk into town. It may take a normal person 10 minutes power walking but we were looking out for orchids so it was a bit more leisurely paced. The logs were so covered in moss it was so cool to see. Many round orchid leaves found but it appears we have missed the flowering. Then amazingly we find a Corybas in flower. A solitary Common helmet orchid (Corybas recurvus) was found growing in the moss on a fallen tree trunk.

Then a bit further on also growing on a fallen tree truck in the green moss, were some Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) with the distinctive crinkled leafed rosette.

Moving on as it was getting late, we finally get to town and pop into the local IGA for some drinks. The walk back detoured via the Margaret River Fish Ladder which was an interesting construction.

Back to the cabin where we had dinner and crashed after a full on tourist day. Lucky to find 2 orchid species on the day. Will have to return one day as there is so much to see and do in this neck of the woods.

2019 Road Trip – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

Blackwood River, Leeuwin-Naturaliste, 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.

2019 Road Trip – Shannon to Sue’s Bridge

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

2019 Road Trip – North Walpole to Shannon

Mount Frankland, Mount Frankland South, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, 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 Diplodium gracillima 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!!!

2019 Road Trip – Redmond West to North Walpole

Numerous days, Road Trip

26/08/2019

Waking up in the middle of the bush is a great way to start the day. Now the logistics of turning around on the track and heading back to Redmond West road is our immediate concern. We had to reverse the campers back down the track about 100 metres where there was a push back into the bush. Deb completes the manoeuvre reasonably easily however Richard baulks after his first attempt and heads back to where we camped to try his luck. Nothing doing back there so he attempts it a 2nd time and after a bit of toing and froing he also turns around successfully.

Whilst waiting for Richard to catch up I go for a walk ahead and find one lone Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) growing on the verge.

Steady going until we reach the water hazard with the 4 options again. Deb takes it first and travels the same route and ends up in the same predicament. However this time with her toing and froing the camper jumps out of the tracks and becomes bogged in the surrounding marshy ground. I end up stripping down to undies and singlet, then using the small shovel dig out mud so the MaxTrax could be inserted under the camper wheels. With another attempt Deb successfully gets out of the bog. Whilst doing this 3 motorbikes turn up and we find out they had crossed the Hay river. Initially they thought we had as well and were amazed as it would have been too deep for us. They were relieved we had not tried to cross.

Now it is Richards turn. He ends up taking the opposite track and with some speed makes it through on his first attempt. Oh well we know better now to check all tracks thoroughly before making an uninformed decision.

Getting through without bogging down

Finally we reach Redmond West Road and head west back to Hunwick Road and west to Keith Road which follows the Hay River down to the South Coast Hwy. From here we head to Denmark and decide to have a pub lunch. We drop into the Denmark Hotel and order our lunches. We sit outside in the fresh air and enjoy our meals and drinks. We then go for a walk around the town checking out the quaint local shops. I also take the opportunity to visit the bank to say hi and grab some cash. Leaving Denmark we stop just past Walpole at Crystal Springs campground which is in the eastern part of D’entrecasteaux National Park. Way to weedy for us so we move on to the next camping option.

This is Centre Road Crossing which is located in the Walpole Wilderness Area (WWA). Established in 2004, the Walpole Wilderness covers more than 363 000 hectares of national parks, nature reserves and forest conservation areas. It incorporates seven national parks and surrounds the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park. We find this campground empty with enough room for our two campers so we set up camp .

I then go for a little explore and stumble across a nice hood of snail orchids growing on a fallen log some 1.5m above ground level. The crinkled leaves to the rosette provide a clear identification. The Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf’) is found flowering from Perth to Albany during the period late June to September. It is said to grow to 200mm in height however one of those found measures 280mm in height.

Fading light, so time to sit back and enjoy the campfire and company. Not such a great day for orchids but we are now on another adventure. Roll on tomorrow.

2019 Road Trip – Nunijup Lake to Redmond West (Mundal 4WD Track)

Numerous days, Road Trip

25/08/2019

Richard was in contact last night and he is fine to come on the Road Trip, well sort of ?? We plan to meet with him at Tenterden later this morning. So after breakfast we move the camper into the sun to dry whilst we have a morning search of the surrounding area.

We find many orchids, however I will only mention those different to the ones found here yesterday. First up was a very nice specimen of the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which can have up to 25 flowers per orchid. Also found nearby was a fertilised specimen of a Scented Autumn/Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp.) Funnily enough both these can have up to 25 flowers as well.

The donkey orchids found appear to be much paler versions of the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia). One is found fighting with a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva). Please feel free to correct my classification of the donkey orchid as I am far from positive on my ID.

A surprise find was a magnificent white spider orchid. A solitary Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta) is in flower with it’s twin yet to open. I have chosen this classification due to the small size of the orchid and the 4 uniform rows of lamina calli. This is the first time we have discovered this species. Exciting find.

It’s nearly 10am and the camper has dried out so we pack up and move on so we can explore another spot before we will need to meet up with Richard in Tenterden. We make our way to Orchid Nature Reserve on Yerimunup Road just north of Tenterden. We had just parked up and headed into the bush when Richard calls asking where to meet exactly as he is in Tenterden. Oh well so much for exploring a new location. It will have to wait for another time.

Richard is still quite unwell but he did not wish to miss out, so we meet up on the Albany Hwy and head down to Albany, via a toilet stop in Mount Barker. At Albany we call into the local IGA at the bottom of York Street to buy supplies. Time to start our 4WD Trek to Mundairing – 900kms of the Mundal Track to go.

Leaving Albany on Princess Royal Drive, we turn into Lower Denmark Road and head to Elleker. Turning north into Marbelup Road we pull over to take our official start of the track photo.

Marbelup Rd – Elleker. On the Mundal Track

We hit the South Coast Hwy however only to turn off pretty much 50 mts down onto Marbelup North Road. We are now on gravel.!! We pull over at the intersection with Cochrane Road to have some lunch as it is nearly 1pm. Taking Cochrane Road west to Hunwick Road, where we continue west for some way. Finally we turn north into Redmond West Road and now have to find the sandy track that will be the real start to the track. Pulling over at what we feel is the right track, we await Richard whilst he checks on his dash GPS, which he is yet to master. Seems to be the correct sandy track so into the unknown we head.

Tame part of the Mundal Track

The track soon turns into mud hole after mud hole and one time we actually drive over a pot hole pitted gravel causeway through a very full swamp. Slip either side and there would be no getting out.

Mudal Track – Just off the gravel causeway

At one spot we got out to check a bog hole and stumbled across some decent sized snail orchids. I am naming this on the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) due to these features: Flared hood, uniformly thickened lateral sepals, hairy stem and dorsal sepal extending beyond the petals. This orchid is found from Mandurah to Albany during the period late July to September. The common name eludes to the fact they age reddish-brown.

We eventually come to a massive bog hole which has 4 choices to get through. After deliberating for too long, Deb finally attempts the track to the far left. Buggar,she gets stuck. After many attempts to rock her way out, the MaxTrax come to the rescue.

Mundal Track – Seconds before getting stuck.

Now Richards turn to tackle the bog hole. Then he has a brain fade and for whatever reason he takes to 2nd track from the left, which proved a big mistake. He is stuck and the water is much deeper. His Triton bottoms out and even using 4 MaxTrax he does not move. Due to the water depth he has to get in and out of his Triton through the drivers window,

Mundal Track – Bad decision

Well we need to try the Snatch Straps. Connecting two together using shackles, Deb unhitches our trailer and reverses as close to the mud hole as she dares. First attempt we here a loud crack so stop dead. It turns out we bent the crap out of one of Richard’s MaxTrax, so nothing too dire. 2nd attempt is successful.. Big sighs of relief.

Onward we go however, a few kms along if that, we come to another large water hazard. There is no chicken track to the left and the one to the right leads to options all driving through rushes in a swampy area. Options limited and with it getting near 4pm we need to find somewhere to set up camp. Nowhere to go, so we set up camp on the actual track. I then suggest walking along the track to the so called river crossing, as if it is too deep then why attempt to get through this large water hazard. Richard and I grab a torch, as we have no idea how far up it is, and head off whilst Deb looks into setting up camp and collecting some firewood. We reach, what we later find out is Hay River, and it is flowing strongly about thigh deep, so way to dangerous for us to try and cross. We make it back to camp around 5.30pm and get the fire raging. We then settle in for a great night around the fire. Later with Hot water bottles filled we hit he sack. Not a great start to our Mundal Track adventure, in fact we have decided not to attempt ant more this time and will come back another year when the track is drier.

2019 Road Trip – Ravensthorpe to Nunijup Lake

Cocanarup Timber Reserve, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Wansbrough

24/08/2019

Last night we packed up the Triton and camper and made our way over to Ravensthorpe where we stayed the night with our son, Tim, in his small rental. This was to put us 2 hrs ahead so the drive to Albany would not have to be so rushed. Little did we know that Albany was not to be our destination as planned.

Leaving at a leisurely 9.00am from Tim’s place we made our first stop at the Ravensthorpe silo’s, which have been painted as large banksia trees with their associated wildlife. We have driven past, but never stopped over the years, so we actually took the time to stop and appreciate them this once.

Just east of Ravensthorpe is one of our favourite stops. Situated in the Cocanarup Timber Reserve , Kukenarup Memorial provides a 250m walk trail which always turns up an orchid or two. Today is no exception. Just before the picnic shelter, the unique Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) is our first find,of the trip and this individual is covered in dew. These orchids flower August to October from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Nothing more found close to the picnic shelter so we head off along the walk trail. First up we find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are found over a vast area from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay during a long flowering period, May to October.

Next up are the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower July to October in an area between Northampton and Grasspatch. Compared to the other greenhoods these orchids have very thin stem leaves.

The the first of many donkey orchids is found. They have little markings to them and based on location could be one of three possible species. Based on the lack of colouring I will name these ones the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which are found between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe during the months July through September.

Also found were the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is found from Geraldton to Israelite Bay during the months August through October. Other common names for this orchid are Re-curved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.

We are then lucky enough to find a nice white spider orchid in flower. This orchid also has an orchid spider hiding on it. The flower itself was not large so I will be naming this specimen the Southern white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. australora) which is found between Fitzgerald River National Park and Millar’s Point during the months of September and October. We are 1 week from September so am happy with the fact it is still August.

Time to move on, so we head west towards Jerramungup. Whilst driving we hear from Richard. He is unwell, so will vist the doctor and rest up a day to see if he will make the trip at all. We no longer need to get to Albany by 1pm so we decide to now take it more slowly and check out some other areas. Therefore our next stop is a new location on the corner of Quiss Road and South coast Hwy (Mud Map SE 26) We could not find Mud Map SE27 though which should have been on the highway just before Quiss Road. . Parking off Quiss Rd we walk along a fire break and immediately spy a Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) which also flower August to October however only in a smaller range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged. Also found nearby was another Jug orchid.

Next we find some small donkey orchids which appear different to the ones found near Ravensthorpe. The labellum is broader and the lateral sepals are not crossed. However some others found have crossed lateral sepals so I believe them to be more Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Then another new orchid for the trip appears. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found between Paynes Find and Israelite Bay during August and September.

Then a very colourful snail orchid is found. From the length of the lateral sepals, number of stem leaves and the shape of the rosette leaves I will be naming these the Brittle snail orchid (Pterostylis timothyi) which flower July to September in a range from Lake Cronin to Esperance.

The further we searched the more Western tiny blue orchids, Sugar orchids, Jug orchids and Brittle snail orchids were found. Then a patch of spent greenhoods was found, before a nice in flower specimen was found . Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) which have a long flowering period of April to September within a range from Perth to Balladonia.

11.30am so we had better move on. Plan to stop in Jerramungup to grab some lunch, however the cafe had closed it’s kitchen 5 mins before we got there. We cross the road to the supermarket and grab some supplies for tonight’s camp and then move on towards Ongerup. We decide to grab a bite to eat at the Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre. So glad we did as the meal was awesome and very well priced. As we had previously found orchids along Jaekel Street we again stop just before the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road. On the left road verge is a cluster of Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp.flava) which flower over 6mths from July to December in a vast range from Geraldton to Israelite Bay.

Whilst I’m busy taking photos of the cowslips, Debbie has skirted further into the scrub in her search. She calls out that she has found a different spider orchid, so I push my way towards her. However on my way in I stumble across a donkey orchid. This one appears to be the Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) which is found flowering from July to September in a coastal, near coastal range from Denmark to Esperance. The darker markings set them apart from the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid which is much paler.

Then I arrive at Debbie’s spider orchid. Yes it is a new species for this trip. Debbie has found the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which flowers during the months August to October in a range from Northampton to Jerramungup. It is quite distinctive with its usually smooth-margined labellum and dense band of calli.

Further afield we find some sugar orchids and large numbers of donkey orchids. Deb heads back to the Triton whilst I make my way to the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road .

Parking the Triton on the Gnowangerup – Jerramungup Road , Deb joins me to check a patch where more donkeys orchids can be seen. There I come across a poor green spider orchid that had been eaten by insects. Thinking this may be the only one found , I grab a photo. Then close by more green spider orchids are found. They are Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower between Wongan Hills and Jerramungup during the months August to October.

Also found around the green spider orchids were many more donkey, cowslip, sugar and drooping spider orchids.

It’s nearly 2pm so we had better keep moving. We drive through Gnowangerup and onto Tambellup. From here we head south along the Great Southern Highway and pull into Wansbrough Nature Reserve looking for a possible overnight stop. Coincidentally this is also a Mud Map location. (Mud Map SC 13) On the drive into the reserve we spy a white spider orchid and more donkey orchids. The only place to set up camp was way to close to the highway, so we turned around and on the way out took some photos of the orchids found. From the location I feel the donkey orchids are Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and the white spider orchids are Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) which flowers August to October in a range from Moora to Esperance.

Also found were some Jug orchids and some very dark coloured donkey orchids. Unsure if they are just a dark variant or another species. I will leave them un-named for now.

Hopping back in the Triton we are nearly flown away by the number of mosquitoes that had entered the cab. Definitely not a camping spot. So now where will we go? Quickly checking the maps we settle on Nunijup Lake (Mud Map SC 20) which is west south west of Tenterden and about 50kms away. We arrive at the lake and park up on the deserted tennis courts between the clubhouse and toilets. Also nearby is an old campfire pit. After setting up the camper we head off into the bush looking for wood. It is on this search that I come across some more dark donkey orchids. However these ones appear to be the Purple pansy orchid (Diuris longifolia) which flower September to December between Albany and Perth. The uniformity to the colour of the dorsal sepal and lateral lobes of the labellum, plus the hanging lateral sepals, lead me to this classification.

More pansy orchids are found along a track to a fallen tree, where I see a spider orchid, whilst picking up broken branches for the fire. The distinct colouring and location provide easy identification. This is the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila) which is found from the Porongurup Range to Manjimup in the months August to October. I race back to camp to advise Debbie of my find. We both go back and then look farther afield. Many more spider orchids are found, some in clumps.

Also found more Purple pansy orchids however light was fading fast so we headed back to camp and settled down for a night around the campfire.

End of day one and we have possibly found 18 different orchid species. An amazing start to our Road Trip.

Park Closure – Helms to the Rescue

Helms Arboretum, Within 20kms of Esperance

11/08/2019

Considering we should be waking up out at Thomas River for another day exploring Cape Arid National Park on our weekend camping, (Refer 10/08/2019 post) we cannot stay home this Sunday. So where do we go on a cool overcast August day? Helms Arboretum of course. (Mud Map SE 35). This should provide us some compensation for missing out on our camping weekend.

On arriving we first check out Entrance Plot 21 along the southern edge. We straight away find some Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) and possible hybrids growing tall amongst the thick weeds.

In the unnamed southern side of the track we find some small snail orchids. Consensus is these are an unnamed species which has been tentatively called the Helm’s snail orchid (Pterostylis sp.) as they do not fit any of the named species recorded for the location.

Moving on to Plot 21 on Brockway Road, just past the wooden log sign marking Helms Arboretum, where there is usually a good patch of spider orchids growing under the large tree. Again appears to be Esperance king spider orchids in various shapes, sizes and colours.

Next we move onto Plot 12 which is planted in a species of pine, so very minimal undergrowth, which makes for easy searching. Nothing much was found before we both stumbled across a massive nook of snail orchids. What an amazing sight to behold. These snail orchids differ to the earlier found ones by having much thinner lateral sepals which do not appear clubbed. From this they appear to be the Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’) which flower in woodlands between the Stirling Ranges and Esperance during August and September.

Moving on to Plot 9 we park between Plots 9 & 13 where a patch of yellow catches my eye. The always bright Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp.flava) is found. The we find the Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta) in our search of Plot 9. For size appreciation, I grabbed a shot with the Wild Orchid Watch scale card.

Moving to the area we have found large spider orchids before we are shocked to see that people have driven into the plot to saw up firewood, which is illegal in this reserve. They have driven right through the area our spiders were found. With a sigh of relief we find some flowering, however the numbers were definitely down from last year. Again these are beautiful specimens of the Esperance king spider orchid.

As previously found in Plot 9 we finally find some snail orchids (Ravensthorpe or Helms) and many more Western tiny blue orchids. Few pics taken before moving on.

Next is Plot 38 along Jolowah Road. where we find more Esperance king spider orchids and a spent but visible greenhood. Also a lone Cowslip and Western tiny blue orchid is found.

We then moved on to Western boundary (Marked X) and found the lone Southern curly locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) which we have struggled to find flowering over the years. It was nearly open but not enough sun today unfortunately.

We needed to keep moving as it was now past 3pm and it was getting cold. We moved on to the plot were we have found Zebra orchids on previous seasons. We found Greenhood, Cowslip and Spider orchids on the way.

In between Plots 109 and 110 is where we have previously have found Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana) and we are not disappointed this year. However numbers are way down on previous years. Zebra orchids flower July to September over a range from Nerren Nerren Station to Mt Ragged.

So we did not get to have our camping weekend out at Cape Arid National Park due to the roads being closed , however we did get to experience the orchid bounty after a summer bush fire at Boyatup hill and good old Helms Arboretum provided us with an afternoon of orchid finds, so we cannot complain.

Boyatup Bounty after Bush Fire

Day Trip

10/08/2019

A weekend away, out East of Esperance, is planned. So after breakfast we hitch up the camper and head out Fisheries Road. Our first point of call is our Coolinup road site. (Mud Map SE 37,38) There is finally some water around, so we make our way into the site and first up find the small Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) still covered in rain drops. There also appears to be some Cream spider orchids (Caladenia horistes) intermixed in. These orchids flower August to early October in a southerly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia. These two spider orchids have overlapping locations and both belong to the Caladenia filamentosa complex. They differ in flower colour and wispiness of petals and sepals.

Then underneath the thick tea tree bushes Debbie comes across some Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) which flower between Perth and Israelite Bay in the months June to August. These differ to the similarly located Midge orchid by the broad labellum.

Nearby more spider orchids are found with neighbouring Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which are yet to fully open.

Also nearby are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and Mallee banded greenoods (Pterostylis arbuscula) which differ in the number of flowers, colouring of flowers and overall height of the plant.

Venturing across the road more greenhoods are found as are many spider orchids in large groupings, especially protected under the tee tree bushes. The surprise finding was a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) way passed its prime, but still another species located for the day. A nice solo Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is found plus Deb stumbles across a small beautiful Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber). This one was only 20mm in height.

Such great finds already and we have yet to arrive at our planned camping area, so we can set up and have lunch. So off we head towards Thomas River campground.

Oh no! The road to Cape Arid National Park is closed so we cannot reach Thomas River. Now what?

As we are close to Boyatup Hill (Mud Map SE 40), we decide to go there first and figure out where to camp later. Luckily Deb had pre-made lunch so we quickly have a bite to eat then make tracks for Boyatup.

At out usual first stop, along the track in, we immediately find a Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) on the right hand side together with an unusually coloured donkey orchid. Both are still covered in rain drops.

Moving to the left hand side of the track, as it is less bushy, we find some Cream spider orchids, Western wispy spider orchids, Dancing spider orchids and Jug orchids.

Finally a different spider orchid is found. Appears to be from the King spider orchid complex. From it’s appearance I believe it to be a Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora), which flowers August to October between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid. May be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid which has a similar appearance and range.

Time to walk further along the track towards the old gravel pit. Mallee banded greenhoods, another spent Hare orchid and some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta) are found. These little blue orchids flower from August to October between Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.

As we reach the other side of gravel pit the landscape turns black. A bush fire had swept through the area last summer, so this is why we planned a visit to this location. We have yet to witness the orchid bloom after a summer fire. Fingers crossed the devastation of the bush fire does lead to new life and we will finally get to observe this.

Immediately to the left as we exit the gravel pit is a lonely Dancing spider orchid growing in the blackened soil. Deb finds some Blue beards nearby which stand out easily against the black.

Then the first pink speck is sighted. Pink bunny orchids begin to appear in scattered groups all over the place. Many more blue beards are found, some growing in clumps. Other Mallee banded greenhoods and Western tiny blue orchids are also found. We are able to explore a much greater area as the fire has cleared away all the undergrowth, leaving just blackened bushes and trees.

We reach the spot we usually park the Triton as the track gets very thin and would scratch the hell out of the paintwork. However we have the camper in tow, so cannot turn around here. So we have to drive further up the track to the granite rocks so we can attempt to turn around. Not that we drive only, as we park and go exploring every five minutes or so. We chew up time but get to explore so much more ground.

Our usual orchid at this part of the track is the Mosquito orchid however only a few leaves are visible in the burnt bushes at the edge of the track. It is not until we venture further afield do we locate some in flower. Also found in this part of the search were more Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids.

We make it to the turn around spot of the flat granite however the ground between the rock is very soft, so it is a very boggy event, however Deb as always gets us through. Now we are facing the way out we can breathe a bit easier. So why not keep on expanding our search towards the hill itself.

Woohoo we have found our first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) of the day. These bright yellow beauties always brighten up the day. Then at the base of the hill we discover a vast patch of Western Wispy spider orchids growing under the protection of a bush.

Moving back down towards the Triton we find more Pink bunny orchids, Cream spider orchids, Mallee banded greenhoods and Blue beards.

Then another yellow orchid is found. The Green Range donkey orchid (Diuris littoralis) is recorded as being located between Denmark and Esperance, however http://www.esperancewildflowers.blogspot.com records this orchid as being found east of Esperance and the Orchids of South-West Australia (4th Edition) range map indicates occurrence in Cape Arid, so I am confident is this classification.

Then in an area that would have been impenetrable prior to the fire we find a fully open Esperance king spider orchid. A neighbouring dual headed specimen though appears to be the closely related Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) due to it’s narrowly clubbed petals and sepals. They flower September and October in a range from Augusta to Cape Arid, so this must be an early flowering one or a mis-classification. Both are very attractive large spider orchids non the less.

We just noticed it is now after 3.30pm and we have yet to decide where we will camp the night, so quickly head back to the Triton and drive back to Fisheries Road. Our thought s were to head into Alexander Bay and camp at the shire campground, but then decided the way in will be wet and slippery, given the closure of Cape Arid National Park, so we decide we will instead go home and sleep in our own bed.

That being decided we breathed a sigh of relief and headed back West. A detour via Condingup Lookout (Mud Map SE 39) though could not be bypassed. We drive up to the Telstra tower and park up. First spot to check is the granite rock outcrop. However on the way there we discover some beautiful snail orchids hiding on the edge of the track. These little guys appear to be the Fawn snail orchid (Pterostylis parva) which are found from the Stirling Ranges to Israelite Bay. They darken with age and flower June through to August, hence the reddish tinge.

We arrived at the granite outcrop and the large hood of snails had already been and flowered and the nearby mosquito orchids were nowhere to be seen. Disappointed I was walking back to the Triton when Deb decides to go into the scrub on a wide berth back. I’m glad she persevered as she stumbled across many Fawn snail orchids and Pink bunny orchids flowering in the moss on the flat granite rocks. Also found were some Green range donkey orchids, Blue beards and Western wispy spider orchids. Not a bad detour Deb!

Finally back in the Triton we make our way down the hill, stopping to check on the Bird orchids growing alongside the road. The rosettes are still growing up but still a way off flowering yet. Also found a finished Scented Autumn leek orchid.

Moving on as it it now 5pm we park down on our usual spot on the Lookout Road and have a quick scout for anything in flower. We find a possible Cream spider orchid, a very old Hare orchid and some Pink bunny orchids. One pink bunny was found flowering in a field of non flowering bunny leaves. I took a photo to show how the leaves change when they flower.

So as the light fades we make our way back to Esperance, thankful that we got to witness how some orchids thrive after a summer bush fire. Pink bunny orchids were very prolific at Boyatup Hill as were the Blue beards. It was hard to walk around without feeling like you are stepping on some, but we did our best to minimise this by treading carefully. All up we found 16 orchid species flowering with 1 yet to flower (Bird) and 1 finished (Leek). 14 of the found orchids were located at Boyatup so the bush fire did produce a bounty for us to discover. Well worth the day trip, it is a pity the weekend planned did not occur.

You may have noticed some of the photos have a Scale card produced by the Wild Orchid Watch (WOW) a citizen science project arranged by the The University of Adelaide. Please refer to their web page at http://www.wildorchidwatch.org plus their Facebook and Instagram pages. If you are based in Australia please register your interest, as an App is close to being released which will allow you to record your findings.