Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.
First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.
Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.
We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.
Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.
Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.
Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.
We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.
We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.
Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.
We awake to a cold , wet and miserable day, but we won’t let that stop us from going exploring for orchids. Finally the rain stops, so after a bite of lunch, we head up to the Bluff Knoll lookout however the actual mountain is nearly covered in clouds. The feature picture show some of the amazing metal artwork installed there. Some close-up images are included here for your appreciation.
So now is the time to commence our exploration of the area. We have a very quick scout around the lookout and parking area, where we see a few orchids. However on the drive into the lookout we saw some possible spots to check out along the roadside. So it is at these couple of stops, in between showers, that we locate the following orchids.
It’s now past 2.30pm so we only have a few hours of daylight left to explore, so we will keep close to our base. Therefore we make tracks north of the National Park, to visit the nearby Formby Nature Reserve, which weirdly is still signposted as the Mabinup Creek Nature Reserve. The northern boundary of the park is found to be very weedy and the creek is overflowing, which does not thrill us too much. So we head back down Formby Road South and venture in on the eastern boundary. Next time we need to pack wellington boots as the place is flooded, but we venture in nonetheless, after applying insect repellent, as the mozzies may become troublesome. This place proves to be covered in orchids in large numbers and many species, which is amazing to us. Refer the following images of the orchids found.
I just had to pop in some photos to show how many orchids were at this location as well as the ones we found swimming.
It is now after 4.30 so we head back toward our base at the Stirling Range Retreat, but as per usual we make one more stop. We pull off the road before the Mount Trio turn-off and head down this gravel track. This is a new location for us in the park and it proves to be quite fruitful. Our quick stop though runs into another hour. Luckily the rain holds off. Here is what we found.
With the light running out fast we do a u-turn, head back to Formsby Road South and make tracks for our little cabin. What an amazing afternoon of orchid hunting we have had today, especially given the cold and wet morning we awoke to. I think we found 23 species and at least 3 hybrids which is mind blowing but this National Park and it’s surrounding are like an oasis in the middle of cleared land for agriculture.
Waking up in the middle of the bush is such an amazing way to start the day. After an enjoyable relaxing breakfast we venture into the bush for an explore. Close to our camp we stumble across some snail orchids. Possibly Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens )even though it is notrecorded at this location in either the Atlas of Living Australia or Florabase. The uniformly thickened lateral sepals, pointed hood and red colouring though all allude to this identification. In the reference books, its location is listed as between Mandurah and Albany, which one would think includes Wellington National Park.
Further afield we find the colourful Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a common orchid found from Northampton to Esperance. The easiest way to distinguish them from the similar Pink Fairy is the colour to the reverse of their leaf. Little pink fairies are red whilst pink fairies are green.
Then we are very happy with our next find. The Bird orchid (Pterostylis barbata) is the most widespread of this complex, with it’s range occurring from Bindoon to Albany. The dorsal sepal and petals form a hood, whilst the lateral sepals are long and narrow. The featherlike labellum, appears to erupt from a burst belly.
Next up some more common pterostylis sp. orchids are found. The ever reliableJug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) are found, but only one specimen of each, which is unusual.
Then more snail orchids are found and upon closer inspection they have crinkled edged leaves on their rosette. They must be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) which is found in forests between Perth and Albany.
Another colour then catches our eye. We find a Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea)partly open so grab a snap. However a bit later on we find some fully open. These beautiful orchids flower over most of the southwest, from Jurien Bay to Fitzgerald River National Park. They are also listed as being found east of Esperance, which is interesting. A population separated from the main location is referred to as a disjunct occurrence.
Well finally time to move on, so we leave our overnight campsite and venture back south towards Mungalup road. Rather than go back to the dam we turn at River Road and make a stop just past the Transmission Tower north of Pile Road. Here we locate some more Red-sepaled snail orchids, Jug orchids and Little pink fairies.
Turning onto Pile Road we travel east and flow into Mungalup road. Further along we then turn off into the Collie State Forest, onto a gravel track named Lyalls Log Road and head into the unknown. At a small creek crossing we stop to investigate. Here we find some snail orchids growing on the banks. Due to the uniformly thickened lateral sepals and the hairy stem, they must be more Red-sepaled snail orchids.
We then move away from the crossing to pull off the track in case anyone else comes along. We then continue our investigation of the nearby open bushland. Here we find more beautiful Silky blue orchids which stand out in the gravely ground.
Then a Bird orchid is found looking like it is giving praise to the heavens. Later on further blooming Bird orchids are found.
The usual suspects for today are found again. Banded greenhood, Little pink fairy and Jug orchid. Ok, I wonder if anything else will turn up. We widen our search with fingers crossed.
Our hopes are rewarded, with some Clubbed spider orchids (Caladenia longiclavata) found interspersed between the trees. This orchid flowers from September to early November and is distributed between Perth and Albany growing in forests and woodlands. It grow up to 400mm in height and has a single , erect hairy leaf which can be up to 180mm in length. Now the orchids could also be the Big clubbed spider orchid (c. magniclavata) as the clubbed sections of the lateral sepals seem to be half the length which is a distinguishing feature, whilst the previously mentioned Clubbed spider orchid has clubs around 1/3rd the length of the sepals. What do you think is the right ID?
Then we are amazed to find another type of spider orchid as well. The Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) flowers from August to early November over a range between Albany and Bindoon. The species name refers to the broad wings to the column. Another distinguishing feature is the dense central cluster of deep, purplish calli.
After nearly 40 mins searching this location we decide we had best move on. We did not get to far along the road before we pull over again. Another new orchid for today is found. The small Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii) needs a steady hand to get a good shot. Unfortunately no steady hand between us 😦 , however will post the best pic. These little guys flower July to September so we are lucky to find some still in flower.
What caught our eye and made us stop at this spot was the large flock of Bird orchids. Also mixed in was a lone Little pink fairy. Photos taken we move on, but don’t get very far, coz a double headed Little pink fairy catches our eye.
Our road eventually terminates at a T junction with Mungalup Tower road and we head south. This road terminates at a tree plantation, so we skirt along the boundary of this plantation until we reach Lyalls Mill Road. So we end up stopping multiple times along the way as orchids catch our eye. A random selection of photos taken is posted for your enjoyment, as no new species were found.
Being close to Glen Mervyn Dam we decide to pull into the picnic area for our lunch. (Refer feature picture) Whilst enjoying lunch overlooking the beautiful water, we discover a nice little grouping of Little pink fairies and another jug orchid. However we do not venture far as we still have a ways to go before our planned overnight stay at Debbie’s cousin Kerry’ farm.
Still around 80-100kms to travel, however we only make it to Noggerup before stopping again. We take a road into the Preston National Park (Shown as Greater Preston NP in Maps) where we go for an exploration. We find orchids, however no new species which is disappointing, but hey, orchids are orchids, so of course we take many photos.
We head back to the Donnybrook Boyup Brook road and move south to Camballan Road, where we stop for another search, this time in the Wilga State Forest. At last we find a new species for the day. The quirky Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea)is found standing proud. It is quite unique in appearance, given the petals and lateral sepals are held horizontally. Another new species for the day is the Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)which is usually found everywhere, but we only find one lone specimen here. Other orchids found were the Little pink fairy and Jug orchid.
A little further along the road we make one final stop in the Wilga State Forest, as farmland is looming. Only found a Banded greenhood in our quick search though. So we moved on and pulled over on the verge of Condinup road for a slightly longer search (15 mins). Here we found some Little pink fairies, Cowslip and Jug orchids.
We were amazed by the large numbers of donkey orchids found here. There are 3 listed in Florabase as occurring in the Boyup Brook shire but only 1 of these is listed in Atlas of Living Australia. That one being the Purple pansy orchid , which they are definitely not, so I will just refer to them as Donkey orchids (Diuris sp.). As per usual, please comment if you can help identify the species.
Getting close to our destination, so we move on and go over Condinup Crossing, where we pull up at a previously known location. Deb heads off straight away looking for the white spider orchids, whilst I do my usual wander. She did find a couple of them and from the location I feel they could be the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is recorded as growing in woodlands from Lancelin to Mount Barker.
No other new orchids for the day are found however I will post some pics to confirm the location they were found. The donkey orchids though look like the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia)which is listed as being found around these parts. Thoughts?
Well it’s now after 4pm so we jump back in the Triton and head to Kerry’s farm, where we are staying the night.
Not too bad a day today. Travelled new routes and found many orchids. 14 species in fact, so an awesome day actually.
After leaving Mokine Nature Reserve we make our way south down Wambyn Road to St Ronans Nature Reserve(Mud Map E 7). We park up at the NW boundary of the park and go exploring. My first orchid found is the Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a rather common orchid flowering between Northampton and Esperance. They are always a pleasure to find though and range from pale to vivid pink in colour.
Also found is a lone Green spider orchid (Caladenia falcata), which is referred to as a common wheatbelt orchid, given its distribution from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. This specimen stands a good 300mm in height and they are recorded as growing to 400mm in height.
Next up a patch of yellow is seen. Getting closer it is confirmed to be a donkey orchid and appears to be a Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia) which can have up to 7 flowers per orchid. Florabase confirms they are located in the Northam and York shires so the location is covered. The other possibility is the common donkey orchid which is similar though larger in size. Thoughts??
Finally we come across a new orchid for the day. The bright white Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is found as two scattered individuals, which is light on when compared to the dozens we have found growing elsewhere in previous seasons. Ericksonella is a another monotypic genus endemic to Western Australia.
The final orchid for this location is another yellow orchid. The reliable Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is found with markings similar to the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid, though this orchid flowers from late September and is located further south. I have read that the boundaries are quite unpredictable with the subspecies but I’m happy to call it the plain cowslip.
We can’t spend an hour at each site, so we move onto Mount Observation in the Wandoo National Park to show Richard what we found here last year. Let’s hope they are flowering this season. On the drive in we spy a nice white spider orchid. I believe it to be the White Spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is known to grow in the area and does occur in gravelly ground.
We then make our way up to the picnic area and park up, to go exploring. Not much around here but we did come across a couple of Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) which is another monotypic genus, however this time is located along the whole of southern Australia including Tasmania. The most distinctive feature which alludes to the common name, is the dense mass of calli and short fringe segments to the upright labellum.
Walking back to the Tritons, Deb and I come across some Green spider orchids. Then a rocky incline, above the parking area, I find some more Small flowered donkey orchids.
Hidden by a log right where we parked is a couple of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva)which are a unique shaped orchid from the Pterostylis genus. They have also been referred to as the Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
We now move on and stop at an area we have found other orchids before. The Clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia longiclavata)is again found growing on the verges. As the common names alludes both the sepals and petals are clubbed, with the former being long, thick, grooved clubs and the later small, thin clubs.
However some seem to be the often co-located Big clubbed spider orchid (Caladenia magniclavata) which is distinguished by having down-swept petals and lateral sepals and the clubs to the lateral sepals being approx 50% of the length. The Clubbed spider orchids clubbing is around 30% of the length in comparison.
More Little pink fairies were located as were some awesome Bird orchids (Pterostylis barbata) which are the most widespread of the bird orchids, ranging from Bindoon and Albany. I am amazed at the structure of these orchids with their beak, bloated body and feather duster like labellum.
Also found mixed in with the Clubbed spiders, Big clubbed spiders, Pink fairies and Bird orchids were more Blue beards and Jug orchids.
Finally we move on and close to the end of the track, near the Great Southern Highway we find some more donkey orchids and a Sugar orchid.
Turning south at Mundaring we travel along Mundaring Weir Road and make an on the spot decision to stop at Gungin Gully in the Beelu National Park for our last exploration of the day. We hit the bush and first orchid found is another Jug orchid quickly followed by a Bird orchid. In fact we find so many bird orchids, it is mind blowing.
Another Pterostylis sp. is found amongst the flock of Bird orchids. A small snail orchid is found, however I will not endeavour to name it based on one specimen. If you have any ideas on the ID please contact me.
Another Small flowered donkey orchid is found together with a very finished Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata). I took photos of both just to record their location.
The highlight of today was finding numerous Silky blue orchids (Cyanicula sericea)which is a common orchid in the western part of its distribution whilst becoming rarer in the eastern parts. Distribution is Jurien Bay to Condingup. The black spotted labellum is a distinctive feature of this orchid.
It’s 3pm so time to make our way to Sandy and Noel’s place in Bedfordale, where we will crash the night. Over the next couple days I train down to Mandurah to visit my mum and sister Maxine, then catch up with the in-laws for a Father’s Day breakfast near the Swan River, then pop up to my brothers place in Dwellingup, where we grab another bed for the night.
Another great day with at least 17 species of orchid found.
Running solo again today as Deb has an afternoon shift. I decide to go back to the Wind Farm to see if the Bird orchids have flowered yet. I discovered many rosettes back on the 11/07/2021, so it’s been 4 weeks.
After parking up, I start at the left of the parking lot and find some snail orchids in flower. Very difficult to name snail orchids. The size of the rosette and it’s leaves, length of lateral sepals and plant height varied greatly so there may actually be at least 2 species. Possible options are the Coastal snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. “coastal snail”), Ravensthorpe snail orchid (Pterostylis grossa)or Thick-sepalled snail orchid (Pterostylis meridionalis).
I then started up the walking track and ran into a fellow orchid hunter, Kathy M. She was interested in the ID of a snail orchid she had found that had fawnish tones to it as well as one that seemed to have different rosette to others she had found. ID proves difficult and the species may be one of the previously listed options.
We spent quite a while checking out the Mosquito orchids (Cyrtostylis robusta) and the intermingled Bird orchid (Pterostylis sp.) rosettes, which unfortunately have yet to flower.
Kathy was going to check further down the road towards the coast, whilst I went into the scrub looking for the Pink fairy orchids (Caladenia latifolia) which Kathy had mentioned she had found. Three beautiful flowers found in full bloom. They were a very pale shade of pink, almost white in patches.
Flowering near the Pink fairies are some Curled tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii), which are a coastal shell orchid found from Binningup to Esperance.
I spend a few more minutes checking the area and come across further mosquito and shell orchids. I walk back to the car and head back towards the coast. A little ways down the track Kathy had parked up and was fossicking in the roadside scrub. I enquired if she had located much, to which she replied – there are some helmet orchids flowering. I pull over and take some photos of the small Crystal helmet orchid (Corybas limpidus) which flower during the period July to early September over a coastal range between Walpole and Esperance.
Other snail orchids found, which all have different features, which makes the task of identification very difficult. I have posted a flower and rosette shot for each distinct orchid and if you can provide any ideas on the likely identification, please do not hesitate to comment.
Now I head off to discover a new location to explore. Another orchid hunter Geoff R, advised me of this location on Twilight Beach Road near Observatory Point. Pulling over onto the limestone I jump out an immediately start exploring the low wind swept coastal scrub. Firstly had to watch my step as there are so many mosquito orchid leaves. Luckily I find one in flower as these orchids flower from June to August, so it is getting towards the end of their season.
Further into the scrub I come across some beautiful little snail orchids with dark sepals, both lateral and dorsal. Still unable to name these confusing little orchids. Moving back towards the car I find 3 Caladenia sp. orchids tempting me with there buds.
Along the vehicle track into the scrub, I come across many more snail orchids which only add to the confusion of ID.
Walking back however, I also discover some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) still in flower. Closer to the Triton I push back into the scrub and are rewarded with a couple of Curled-tongue shell orchids, mosquito orchids and a Caladenia sp. orchid in bud.
3.47 pm so time to move on. Plan was to pop up to Dempster Head and see if the Spectacled donkey orchid was flowering, however I change my mind and pull into Chapmans Point instead. Nothing found on the lookout walk so just made my way down towards the point and checked out underneath shrubs and around the granite rocks.
Have a guess what I found first. That’s right, some more confusing snail orchids. Also found other mosquito orchids in flower. It was an amazing warm sunny winters afternoon, so finding the orchids that I have, just made the day even better. Now time for home.
As Deb has an afternoon shift, I am home alone at 2.30 pm, so what to do? Revisit my new location from 2 weeks ago sounds like a plan. So back to Pink Lake Lookout I go.
I make a bee line for the area I found the emerging shell orchids last time. There were more Caladenia leaves, some with small buds, and many Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) still in flower along the way.
I approach the location from above the shrub rather than below and it provides a better view. I am very happy to discover numerous orchids are now in flower. They are Curled-tongue shell orchids (Pterostylis rogersii) which are a coastal orchid found between Binningup and Esperance. As with all shell orchids they grow in colonies which makes for tricky photographs, as there are so many rosettes that need to be avoided. Even though there may be lots of rosettes in the colony, only a few orchids actually flower each season.
Now I move back towards the track and locate the Mosquito orchid leaves which were in bud last visit. Unfortunately they have yet to flower. Not to worry as Deb has advised me that there are Mosquito orchids flowering at the Wind Farm, so I walk back to the Ford and head off to visit there.
After parking the Ford, I make my way along the walk track to the Wind turbine. It is along the edge of the track that I locate the Mosquito orchid (Cyrtostylis robusta) in flower. I happily sit down on the ground to grab a few snaps.
More mosquito orchids are found further along the track and then a very dark specimen catches my eye. I kneel down to grab some snaps and whilst doing this I notice that there are bird orchid rosettes growing underneath the nearby shrub. Oh my this is awesome. I will now have to re-visit this location later in the season to see if any of them flower.
No further orchids are found on the small walkway from the Wind turbine to a lookout. I take in the amazing view over the bay and the Nine Mile Wind Farm. I am actually in the 10 Mile Lagoon Wind Farm which I found out by reading the information at the picnic shelter. I did not know there were 2 wind farms built about 10 years apart. We learn something new everyday LOL.
I go for a wander before returning to the Ford and come across more mosquito orchid leaves and bird orchid rosettes, which confirms that I will have to return later. A great 2 hours spent in the outdoors on a cold winters Sunday.
Waking up to more conveyor belt noise we enjoy breakfast in the beautiful sunshine before we head off exploring the bush. We have time to kill as we have a rather damp camper, which needs to dry out before being packed up.
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Warty hammer orchid
So excited to have found a new genus, Drakaea. Initially found orchids with buds opening then moved on to finding other types of orchids. Heading back to the campsite we stumbled across a patch with Drakaea orchids in full flower. The Warty hammer orchid is an amazing little orchid.
It is now past 11 am so we packed up quickly and headed off, driving over that noisy conveyor belt, as we headed west. We stopped at the Harris Dam (Lake Ballingall) and had lunch, before moving on towards Collie. Just before heading into town, we stop at a bush block that had walk trails through it and went for a wander.
Collie – Harris River Road
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
We now pop into Collie and go shopping for supplies before heading southeast toward McAlinden. A random stop on the roadside in the Mumballup State Forest turned out to be a great idea.
Mumballup State Forest
Leaping spider orchid
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Another State Forest location proved successful. However, we must move on if we are to reach our planned overnight destination. Reaching McAlinden we turn east, then take the Boyup Brook Road North south to Sandalwood Road. Here we check out a bush block.
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Big clubbed spider orchid
As it is nearing 3.30 pm we move onward toward our planned overnight stop, which takes us over Condinup Crossing, a concrete causeway over Dinninup brook. No water flowing over the causeway and no orchids found on our quick scout around. We then pull over on the roadside for a quick explore of Condinup Reserve. Orchids found so a slightly longer stop than planned.
Tangled white spider orchid
(Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta)
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Cupped banded greenhood
Well, we are so close to our planned overnight stay and it is getting close to 4.30 pm so we decide to move on. We arrive at the farm of Deb’s cousin and are welcomed by Kerry, the kids, and their dog. After a quick hello, I am granted permission to go exploring whilst the cousins catch up. No need to set up the camper, as we have a nice warm bed ready for us. The farm where we are staying backs onto the Condinup Reserve, so I have some nice bush to check out within walking distance from the farmhouse.
Dinninup – Cousins Farm
Little pink fairies
(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)
Cupped banded greenhood
As well as finding orchids in their bush block I also came across some old bottles. Weirdly enough these bottles were my highlight of this final exploration of the day. Now time to enjoy country hospitality and a warm cosy bed.
Thankyou to Megan for allowing us to camp on her Meelon property for a couple nights. It was great to catch-up with family and friends. Finally being able to visit my dear old mum in her nursing after all the COVID-19 lockdowns, was extra special. We say our goodbyes to little Harley and start our homeward journey, albeit in a very roundabout fashion, which is the way we like it. 🙂