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.
After a great night catching up around the camp fire we wake to a beautiful spring morning. After breakfast we pack up camp then go for a wander around our campsite where we come across a few Ant orchids (Caladenia roei). Then we walk back towards Coarin Rock, which Richard and I climbed late afternoon yesterday, to show Deb the donkey orchids we found. However before this a fellow camper directs our attention to a lone spider orchid. NEW FIND – It appears to be a Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) as the petals and both lateral and dorsal sepals all droop and the labellum is smooth margined. This orchid flowers August to early December and range from Northampton to Jerramungup.
Great little nest of ants
Drooping petals and sepals, both dorsal and lateral
Prominently red-striped, shortly-fringed or smooth-margined labellum
Two dense bands of red or cream calli
Past the ablutions on the track to the rock we find the patch with many Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’)and then backtrack to the Tritons for our drive to Kokerbin hill.
Great herd of donkeys
Kokerbin Hill / Kokerbin Rock is claimed to be the third largest monolith in Australia, so was a definite stop. We took a walk around the northern face to Devils Marbles and found some Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), Ant orchids, Donkey orchids and a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp ‘inland’)
Rounded to elongated petals
Green and white flower 10-20mm long
Petals and lateral sepals form crucifix
Short, spreading petals and sepals
Time to head north so we make tracks to Kellerberrin and have lunch at the lookout. A quick check around located more Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and other donkey orchids I cannot identify plus some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera).
Brighter yellow with purple markings
Pale yellow flowers
Species name “antennifera” – to bear antennae
Time is slipping away so we head further north and pulled over to an area of woodland on the off chance of finding some orchids. The area was signposted Forsyth Woodland and it proved to be great off chance location. Deb, Richard and myself all head off in different directions to see who would find the first orchids. Deb won by finding some Blood spider orchids (Caladenia filifera). I am confident with their identification, this time. NEW FIND
Small blood-red labellum with serrate to dentate fringe segments and 2 rows of red calli
Blood-red flowers 30 to 50mm across
Uniformly blood-red flowers
Long pendulous petals and lateral sepals
Next up Deb comes across a small Mottled donkey orchid (Diuris suffusa) which flowers late August to late September in the shires of Trayning, Wyalkatchem, Koorda and Mount Marshall. NEW FIND I find a lone Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta) and Deb finds a lone Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata).
Often reflexed petals, a broad reflexed dorsal sepal, narrow, reflexed, crossed lateral sepals
Short spreading petals and sepals
Single, erect, hairy leaf 100 to 200 mm long by 5 to 15 mm wide
Further Donkey orchids and Pink candy orchids groupings were found followed by a grouping of Ant orchids and a sole Sugar orchid.
Short spreading petals and lateral sepals.
Up to 6 cream to pale yellow , brown marked flowers.
Small flowered donkey orchid 200 to 350 mm high
Crucifix shape adopted by the petals and lateral sepals
Widespread, clumping orchid
Found between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay
Single, erect, hairy leaf and up to 3 greenish-yellow and red flowers
Many more Fringed mantis orchids in better shape than the first were found as was a patch of very tall Hairy-stemmed snail orchids.
Narrow petals and up-swept, narrowly-clubbed lateral sepals
Greenish-yellow, red-tipped labellum with 4 or more rows of deep red calli.
Green and white flower 10 – 20 mm long by 5 – 8 mm across
50 to 150 mm high with a rosette of leaves 20 – 50 mm across
Single, erect, hairy leaf 100 – 200 mm long by 5 – 15 mm wide
United dorsal sepal and petals forms a hood over the column, erect, narrow-ended lateral sepals
So Forsyth Woodland proved a very fruitful stop with 7 orchid species found. Sunset is looming and we have yet to settle on where to camp overnight. Our first choice, Durokoppin Nature Reserve was not suitable, so we headed north, passing through Trayning and made tracks for Marshall Rocks near Bencubbin. This was a great spot with only one other camper in residence, so we set camp for the night. I decide to quickly check the rock out for any orchids and only find some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, as the rock and surrounding area was very weedy.