Road Trip 2019 – Ravensthorpe to Esperance

National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stokes

08/09/2019

After a wonderful night at our son’s place it is time to head off on the final day of our road trip. Leaving Ravensthorpe we make our way to Mt Desmond lookout, off Elverdton Road. Growing alongside the newly grader road to the lookout, were some small Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta). Felt lucky to find them as the roadworks had cleared the places we had found orchids on previous visits. These little orchids are found from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged during the period August to early-October. Also found closer to Elverdton Road was a Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which is a common orchid, found flowering between Geraldton and Israelite Bay during August through October.

Moving further east, we visit another of our favourite spots, Mills Road near Munglinup. Deb finds the first of many orchids found in this location. The 4 orchids are hybrids of the Caladenia sp. Unable to positively ID so will just post some photos. I think Caladenia radialis or Caladenia brevisura may one of the parents. Please assist with ID if you can.

Found very close-by are some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana). These small orchids flower from August to early-November in a southerly range from Lancelin to Esperance.

Intermixed with the Zebra orchids was a Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) which adds to the possibility that it is a parent of the hybrid orchids found earlier. These orchids are found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite Bay during the months of August and September.

After further exploration a sole green spider orchid was discovered. However many more were found after further searching. The Small mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens subsp. gracillima) is as the name suggests, smaller than the related Fringed mantis orchid, we found earlier in the road trip. Flowering season is August to early-October and the Small mantis orchid is found between Jerramungup and Israelite Bay,

Another spider orchid is found, this time from the filamentosa complex. The Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) flowers from August to early-October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Balladonia. The Cream spider orchid is also listed as having rare hybrids with the short-sepaled spider orchid, so it may be another parent of the previously mentioned hybrids found at this site.

A single spider orchid from the same complex, but another species is found. This time the smaller Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) is found. Smaller labellum, thinner sepals and whiter colouring provide me with this identification.

The final orchid found in this location is the small Western tiny blue orchid.

As it is only mid-morning we decide to visit Stokes National Park, before finally heading for home. Upon arriving at the campground we immediately spy some king spider orchids. One of them is a bit worse for wear with his labellum eaten out. Non damaged specimens found with variations in colour, from bright red to pale green so identifying these will be interesting, as both the Esperance king spider orchid (Caladenia decora) and Heberle’s spider orchid (Caladenia heberleana) occur in this location and they are difficult to tell apart. They may also hybridise with each other, so ID will not be attempted at this time. Lots of photos below to show my dilemma.

Well we thought there were lots of king spider orchids, but there is also as many Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia), which flower from August to early-November between Kalbarri and Israelite Bay. Here they range in size and colour, which just adds to the thrill of finding so many.

Some Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) were also found, whilst pushing into the scrub to grab photos of the Pink fairies. Moving on, we leave the campground and drive back towards the intersection to the day area,where we had previously found orchids. We were not disappointed as we find a few Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) in flower. These are widespread sun orchids found from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay during the months July through October.

Also found at this corner is the every popular Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is also a widespread orchid with a long flowering period. These ones were a bit unusual as they had white tips to the petals. Usually solid yellow with markings.

Final orchid found for the day was a unique spider orchid, which we last found at Helms Arboretum a few years back. A single Grass-leafed spider orchid (Caladenia graminifolia) is found growing in the roadside drain under the protection of overhanging banksia bushes. Found between Mt Manypeaks and Israelite Bay during August and September this orchid self pollinates so is in flower for only a few days at the most,so we are very lucky to have found one in flower.

One hour from home and nearly noon so we decide to make tracks, so we can have lunch in our own home. Mixed emotions as we remember the last 2 weeks during this last hour of our 2019 Road Trip.

The first week did not go to plan however we made up for it by visiting Margaret River and tasting a few wines. Then we had a great time catching up with friends from our Rural youth days before our 2nd week, which did not include the planned visit to Charles Darwin Reserve, however we discovered some great new un-planned locations. A special catch up with my cousin Mary-lou that included meeting the eldest cousin Ian for the first time. Only took 55 years.

The major purpose of our road trip, other than having fun getting out in the great Western Australian outdoors, is the discovery of our very special terrestrial orchids, most of which are endemic to WA. On this note we located 70 species/sub species of orchids from 10 genera, with multiple hybrids and hypochromic variants. Refer this post for their details. 2019 Road Trip – Orchids Found

So privileged to witness the natural beauty of our amazing little corner of the world!!!!!!

2019 Road Trip – Beringbooding Rock to Narembeen

Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Ski Lake, Yanneymooning

Waking up to a clear blue sky we have breakfast then hit Berinbooding rock for a morning walk..Oh my it is windy and cold up on the rock. We do our best to keep on the track but get a bit lost I think. The only orchid found was the Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) which flowers over an inland range from Kalbarri to Norseman during the period August to early-October. Beringbooding Rock has the largest rock water catchment tank in Australia, built in 1937 and holding over 10 million litres.

Packed up the camper and headed a bit further east to the next stop on the Wheatbelt Way – Elachbutting Rock. We pulled into a parking area and took the walk trail to Monty’s Pass. Along this trail we found further Dainty blue orchids.

Closer to the rock we take the track to the wave feature, which compares to Wave Rock in Hyden. In the vegetation at the base Deb finds a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp,’inland’) which is well past its prime.

We now move onto Monty’s Pass which is a 30 metre tunnel caused by a rock slide. At the end of the tunnel we find a nice double-header Dainty blue orchid.

We then ventured on the drive around this massive rock, however did not find anymore orchids. We did however find a rock lined well and many wildflowers.

Leaving Elachbutting Rock we head south and pull into a place called Yanneymooning Hill which is surrounded by the Yanneymooning Nature Reserve. We scout around for a bit and only found another Hairy-stemmed snail orchid.

Moving along we head south to Boodalin Soak another stop on the Wheatbelt Way. Here we pull up at the rock lined well and grab lunch. This water supply was a part of the track from York to Coolgardie, which was cleared by Charles Cooke Hunt in 1865. We are in a part of Westonia Common, which is comprised of 15 remnant vegetation reserves surrounding the town of Westonia. The common covers an area of approximately 2500ha. Scouting around the soak we only find more Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, however they are in much better condition. Also there are so many pink everlastings.

We move onto the low granite rock and immediately find some donkey orchids. They must be further Yellow granite donkey orchids (Diuris hazeliae) which are found on granite outcrops between Paynes Find and Salmon Gums during the months of August and September. No other donkey orchid is found so far to the east except down near the coast, so I am confident in my identification.

Also found growing on the rocks were some small Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophyllum gracile) which flower over a large range from Shark Bay to Eyre during the period July to October. Also found near the summit, well Ok the highest point of the rock, is a Pterostylis from the Rufa complex yet to bloom. Too early for this one unfortunately.

Coming down off the rock and heading back to the parking spot we come across lots of Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) in varying shades of pink, with one only having pink tipped calli. These orchids flower during the period late-June to September over a large range from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.

Well what do we stumble across next? A Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) with one of his sepals pointing in a weird direction just like the earlier found Donkey orchid with his petal. These orchids are found from Paynes Find to Norseman, during the period July to late-September. The creamy colouring of the flower and labellum provide my ID, however the similar Ironcaps spider orchid (Caladeina paradoxa) may also be the correct ID. Please provide your thoughts to assist my final ID.

Also discovered was a trio of Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which are an inland orchid flowering from August to October between Eurardy Station and Ravensthorpe. Of the 3 found only 2 were in flower.

Next up is a white wispy spider orchid. From the size of the leaf and the large white squat calli I believe them to be the Glistening spider orchid (Caladenia incensum) which flowers from late-June to September over a inland range from Hyden to Nerren Nerren Station. I did not get leaf photos for all of them so it is possible some are a hybrid with the Common spider orchid which may have a thinner leaf.

However by far the most numerous orchid was the Dainty blue orchid. They were in singles and in big groups with a couple of very special ones found. They are pure white. Hypochromic to the max, with no colouring at all, however to be albino the stem and leaf would be white as well.

Finally back to the Triton and camper after so many stops to take photos. Not complaining though. We head into Westonia and grab a coffee at the local co-op, supplying our own lactose free milk, which was a bonus. Quaint town with their main street decorated to look like a town in the distant past. Heading south from Westonia we now also leave the Wheatbelt Way. We must drive it in it’s entirety one day.

As we had visited Merredin back in June we decide to turn south down the Merredin-Narembeen Road, which passes near the Collgar Wind Farm, which when built was the largest single stage wind farm in the southern hemisphere. Unsure if it still is though.

Now all we have to do is find an overnight camp site. Next town on the map is Narembeen, however we turn east just before there and drive out to the Ski Club. Here we set up by the toilet block, which is not working due to no water. Loving the way they name the Gents & Ladies. After setting up and lighting the fire, I go off for a wander into the neighbouring Ski Lake Nature Reserve on the hunt for any orchids.

The land around the lake and into the woodlands was very dry and desolate so I was only successful in finding one lone orchid in flower. However it is a new species for this road-trip so I am pleased. This poor Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica) looks like he has had a hard life. These little guys flower from July to October in a range from Wongan hills to the South Australian border. They are also found in all other states of Australia as well.

9 species found flowering today with a Pterostylis yet to bloom. Plus the bonus Hypochromic Dainty blue orchid ensured the trip from the North Eastern Wheatbelt to the Open Wheatbelt was a successful and enjoyable day.

2019 Road Trip – Burakin to Beringbooding Rock

Datjoin Well and Rock, Mollerin (Lake), Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Other Reserves, Road Trip

04/09/2019

Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning I take a quick check of the scrub behind Mary-lou’s property. I find a small spider orchid so grab a quick photo with my Samsung phone. I then head back to enjoy breakfast and a nice hot shower. Quick photo shoot with Ian and Mary-lou before I take Deb and Mary-lou back to the orchid I found. Another quick check before it is time to make tracks again.

This orchid appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) due to the size of the labellum. These orchids flower over a large range from Kalbarri to Esperance during the months July to early-October.

No other orchids founds, so we bid farewell to Burakin and make our way east along the Bonnie Rock-Burakin Road. Checking out the Hema Map we decide to detour to Mollerin (Lake) Nature Reserve. Firstly we venture down Chapman Road to the reserve but there is no real access so we make the decision to back-track and hit the reserve via the Kulja-Mollerin Rock road, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision. On the track into the parking area we spy orchids from the vehicle. Pulling over we jump out to grab some photos and have a quick scout around.

First up Deb finds some Drooping spider orchids (Caladenia radialis) which occur mostly inland from Northampton to Jerramungup, flowering from August to early-October. The drooping nature of the petals, lateral sepals and usually the dorsal sepal confirms the common name.

Nearby are two colour variations of the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei), greenish-yellow and red. These little guys can grow to 300mm in height and rare specimens have 3 flowers per orchid. They are known to hybridise with many other Caladenia orchids.

Also found were some donkey orchids. The bright yellow colouring and the location points to the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae). Found near inland granite and breakaway habitat from Paynes Find to Salmon gums, flowering during the months of August and September.

Mixed in with these three different species were a couple of wispy spider orchids. Choosing between a few possible species I am going to call them the Outback spider orchid (Caladenia remota subsp. remota), due to the larger labellum, creamy colouring and location found.

Then unexpectedly we came across an old concrete sheep dipping station. These were built by the Shire of Koorda in 1944 as shared facilities for local farmers, financed by the Agricultural Bank. It was after grabbing some photos that we decided to quickly move back to the Triton and move on to the parking/camping area at the base of the Mollerin rock.

Now to check out the rock for some orchids. We cover quite a bit of the rock but only manage to find more Yellow granite donkey orchids.

It is not until we reach flat ground at the base of the rock do we find anything different. First up we discover some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), however getting a good picture of them proved challenging due to the wind. Also nearby another blue orchid is found. The Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is found growing rather spindly in the green ferns under the shrubs. Struggled for a good picture of this as well. Both orchids are common inland species and flower as late as October, however their seasons start in May and August respectively.

Many, many more Drooping spider orchids where found with the occasional Yellow granite donkey orchid and Ant orchid thrown in. Some more pictures taken before we decide it is best we move on.

Leaving Mollerin Rock we head back to the Bonnie Rock Burakin Road and head east. Using the Wheatbelt Way Trail map as a guide we stop at the Datjoin Well & Rock Reserve, as a possible overnight stay. Whilst we make our mind up if we will stay here the night we decide to have a quick look around after having a cuppa. Straight up we some Ant orchids in the camping area/picnic area. These two provide a visual of the variations in colour these orchids are found.

Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. These guys are always so difficult to ID. These ones appear to be more Common spider orchids which are commonly found in clumps.

Moving into the surrounding open woodlands another Ant orchid is found, however this one is a very reddish colour with striped labellum. So what is it? After checking into my written and online references, plus asking fellow orchid enthusiasts, I confirm this little beauty is a hybrid between the Ant orchid and either the Drooping spider orchid or Common spider orchid. Due to the mostly red colouring I feel the other parent must be the Drooping spider orchid, so will be calling this orchid Caladenia radialis X Caladenia roei.

Also found as single specimens were the Blue beards, which are also referred to as Blue fairy orchid.

The most numerous orchid found was the Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) which is a widespread orchid found mostly inland from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering season is also quite long, from late-June to September. They range in colour from pale to deep pink, however we found one that was white. This one lacked the pink colour, so is a hypochromic specimen which some refer to as lutea.

Finally moved over to check out the well and go for a short walk up to the rock. Close to the well we came across more Drooping spider orchids in good clumps. On the rock however we only came across some donkey orchids. Location should point to them being further Yellow granite donkey orchids, however the lateral sepals are just hanging, so I will leave the naming to others. Feel free to offer your thoughts.

Well, it is now after 4 and we need to decide if we will camp here the night. The camp ground here is rather small and uneven and there is already a caravan set up, so we decide to move on to the next camping stop on the Wheatbelt Way. Beringbooding Rock provides much more space to camp so we set up the camper, collect wood and start the fire, then enjoy a well earned rest.

Another wonderful day spend it the great outdoors. 8 orchid species found plus 1 hybrid and 1 hydrochromic orchid.

2019 Road Trip – Caron Dam Reserve to Burakin

Latham, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Xantippe

03/09/2019

Destination unknown we head off south down the Mullewa Wubin road. Just past Latham we turn east and pull into the Latham Nature Reserve for a quick look. We both head into the reserve in different directions. After looking around and into the reserve a bit we conclude that the only orchids are the ones on the verges with the roads. On one verge we find some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which are located between Kalbarri and Balladonia during the months of June to September. Common inland snail orchid which is extremely variable in appearance.

Another species found on this verge is the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) which flowers August to October in locations from Eurardy Station to Ravensthorpe. They are the most widespread of the so called Small spider orchids.

On the other verge we found a Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) which occur inland from Kalbarri to Norseman during the months of August to early October.

We move further south to the Maya Nature Reserve however did not find any orchids in our quick check so moved onto the siding of Maya where we took the time to check on their historical display. The townsite was gazetted in 1913 and is now only a receival point for CBH. A world record was set in 2003 when 55 headers harvested a paddock at the same time.

From Maya we head south again, before venturing into Buntine Rock (Mud Map N 38), which as the name suggests is near the small town of Buntine. It is not however located in the nearby Nature Reserve. We have visited this spot previously so parked up and immediately headed onto the flat granite area. Some beautiful Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) were found in flower. These orchids flower from July to October in locations between Shark Bay and Israelite Bay.

More yellow orchids are found, however these are from a different genus. The Pale donkey orchid (Diuris pallescens) is found which flowers from late-august to late-September between Moora and Minganew. This location is a bit further east however recordings have been logged in Atlas of Living Australia, so I am happy with this identification. Other donkey orchids found though appear to be the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta) as the flowers are much more colourful, petals are broad and rounded, plus the lateral lobes to the labellum are narrower. East of recorded location, Bindoon to Northampton and they flower late-July to early-September, so I may be in error, so please correct me if wrong.

Moving on we stumble across a nice trio of Ant orchids in the midst of the donkey orchids. The fourth orchid is still in bud.

Then an exciting find is made. Our first dragon orchid of the season is found growing underneath the shrubbery. The Narrow-lipped dragon orchid (Caladenia mesocera) flowers from August to early-October in inland locations from Pingrup to Paynes Find. This is the first time we have found this orchid species so very excited indeed.

Our attention is then drawn back to the donkey orchids which are everywhere.

Some of the donkey orchids are brighter yellow, so appear to possibly be another species. I will call these ones the Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) which flower during August and September on inland granite and breakaway habitat from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums.

Also discovered a patch of Kalbarri cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata). As they appear to be covered in blotches rather than regular patterns, I am confident in this classification. Maybe to ones found yesterday near Eneabba were also Kalbarri cowslips. If so please correct me an I will go back and edit that post. A little south of Perenjori which is listed as their southern boundary, however sightings in Atlas of Living Australia confirm Buntine Rock as a location. These orchids flower from July to early-September as far north as Shark Bay.

We climbed to the top of Buntine Rock for the 360 degree views then made our way back to the Triton and camper. On the way we find further Ant and Dainty Blue orchids.

Leaving Buntine Rock we head south to Dalwallinu, where we have a counter meal in the local pub, before shopping for some supplies. Now we head east on the Dalwallinu-Kalannie road, taking a detour into the Xantippe Nature Reserve and park up at the water tank. The water tank was constructed in the 1920’s to supply water to Dalwallinu however due to issues pumping the water over the surrounding hills , this was abandoned with water being used by the local farmers instead.

Xantippe tank

It is now around after 3pm, so we have a quick look around the granite near the tank. More Ant orchids and Lemon-scented sun orchids are found.

Then a little orchid is found and on closer inspection, further Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) are found. These little guys flower from July to October over a vast range from shark Bay to Eyre. They vary from the standard yellowy-green colouring to purplish.

Now time to move on and get to our newly chosen overnight stop. We are popping in on my cousin Mary-lou in Burakin, where she is now the sole resident. Pulling up we find a caravan already set -up so were unsure if we would be able to stay. However the caravan was another cousin, in fact Mary-lou’s eldest brother Ian and his wife. So it was a great reunion given I have no memory of every meeting Ian before this. It turns out he is the oldest male and I am the youngest male of the fraternal side of our families. Fancy that!!

10 species found today, so we hit the sack happy.

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River to Bedfordale

Numerous days, Road Trip

31/08/2019

Having a lazy morning we check out at 10am. Catching up with Alice a friend from Esperance, who now lives in Margaret River is our plan for this morning. She works at Jarvis Estate where we will do some more tastings. However prior to arriving we pull over into the power line clearing off Osmington Road for a quick scout.

In the bush between the power lines and Bussell Hwy I find many snail orchids. Karri snail orchids (Pterostylis karri) seem to be the species. On specimen found is 250mm in height. these orchids flower August to early December in locations between Margaret River and Walpole. Long thin lateral sepals and pointed dorsal sepal seem to confirm this identification. Some leaves appear crinkled so initially thought them to be Slender snail orchids.

Deb is searching on the other side of the power lines and calls me over as she has found some Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii).

Also on her side were some snail orchids, however these ones appear to be Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) due to the red colouring.

Couple of snail orchids found with one appearing to be a Karri snail orchid but the other may be an early Red-sepaled snail . Length and thickness of lateral sepals seem to indicate they are different species.

Its nearly 11am so we made tracks to Jarvis Estate to catch up with Alice. This was her last few days at the estate as she has changed jobs, so we were privileged to have a private cellar door, which included having a taste direct from the barrel. As has become the norm we left with a few purchases. Forgot to take any photos which is not good, but we did have a great time catching up with Alice.

Heading west, then south we venture onto Mowen Road to go further west to Sues Road. Here we turn north and follow it all the way to Bussell Hwy then turn left to travel towards Bunbury. We plan to visit Manea Park (Mud Map SW 5) in College Grove. Pulling off the road at the round-a-bout we park up and make our way to the walk trail entrance.

After checking out the map we head off on the trail for the 2.3km walk. First up we find some snail orchids. Unable to identify the species though.

Next up on both sides of the track we find our first Donkey orchids. Very poor specimens. However just a little bit into the bush was an exciting find. A Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) is found. These orchids flower August to early November in locations between Albany and Bindoon. The up-swept clubbed petals and dense band of calli are distinctive features.

A splash of yellow catches my eye and there two small Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) are blooming brightly in the dull bush. Others are found along the track and the variation in shape, yellow colour and red markings are evident in the flowers sighted.

Another great find was the Reaching spider orchid (Caladenia arrecta) which has very prominent clubs to petals and sepals. These orchids flower late July to mid-October over a range from Bindoon to Esperance. Only a sole specimen was found today however. So very lucky.

Better specimens of donkey orchids found further along the track. From all those found it appears there may be more than one specie found. With the purple coloured mid lobe to the labellum one appears to be the Yalgorup donkey orchid (Diuris porphyrochila) which is located from Mandurah to Bunbury, possibly as far south as Margaret River, from late August to early October. They can hybridise with the Sandplain donkey orchid (Diuris tinctoria) which is also found in the same locations and flowers during September and October. Other flowers found appear to be these Sandplain donkeys. Then some shorter orchids with lateral sepals that are not crossed may be Kemerton donkey orchids (Diuris cruenta) which flower similar times and range from Lake Clifton to Capel. So who knows, we may have found three species or just versions of one. I’m open to suggestions as to correct identification.

Also found was a very bent sole specimen of the Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers August to October over a large range from Esperance to Jurien Bay.

Further Pterostylis orchids are found. Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) are found in isolated patches as well as the good old Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata). Also many more snail orchids are found which I will not attempt to name at this time.

Moving on as it is way past 1.30pm and we have not had lunch yet. We pull into the Bunbury Farmers Market and are super impressed by the set-up. Awesome place to shop for fresh food, however we also picked up some great ready made salads for lunch. Now time to head into the city and catch up with friends in Bedfordale.

We arrived just before 6pm and unpacked ourselves into the house and started socialising. However as we were in the Perth hills, on a bush block, I took an opportunity to check out as much as I could in the fading light. Right on the boundary with the neighbours I find some very impressive specimens of the Silky blue orchids.

Travelled a few kilometres today but was still able to find some great orchids. Leaping spider, Reaching spider, Silky blue and possibly 3 Donkey orchids all new finds for the season, so can not expect much better.

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.