09/09/2021 ….. Stirling Range National Park and surrounds

Formby NR, Mabinup Creek NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stirling Range NP, Western Australian Orchids

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.

Bluff Knoll hidden in cloud

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.

02/09/2021 ….. Koorda to Northam

Cartamulligan Well NR, Moonijin NR, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

After enjoying a very basic continental breakfast at the Koorda hotel we make our way along the Dowerin – Koorda Road, as we have not recorded driving this way before. We love breaking new ground so to speak, as this opens up our search area for orchids. With this in mind our first location visited is the Booralaming Sports Centre, a random piece of uncleared land chosen from Google Maps, whilst driving along. After checking out the old play equipment and abandoned tennis pavilion we get stuck into looking for orchids.

First orchid found was a lone Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is not a great specimen. Photo taken just to record the finding. Next up we find another orchid in better numbers. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is a common inland orchid which is a monotypic genus, endemic to WA.

A donkey orchid is then found with a huge clump found later on back near the pavilion. From the location and the following features: reflexed lateral sepals, broad rounded petals, and broad dorsal sepal, I am calling these Mottled donkey orchids (Diuris suffusa).

Next up is a wonderful trio of Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which have a broad smooth labellum with a central band of calli. The more south the location the longer the band of calli. Refer the post from the 01/09/2021 for an image of a northern form.

Then a nice surprise, some spider orchids are found. The yellow coloured ones I believe to be the Primrose spider orchid (Caladenia xantha) which flower until early September which explains the spent specimen found. The colouring ranges from pale to vivid yellow, which includes the labellum. EDIT: hugo_innes suggested an ID in iNaturalist Australia that they may be Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) due to the north/east location.

White coloured spider orchids also present and I thought they are probably the Common spider orchid (Caladenia varians), however after posting to a Facebook page a knowledgeable person advised they thought they were the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens), due to the broad labellum, which is usually small in most other white wispy styled orchids.

We did get distracted with a large rubbish dump which gave us reason to scavenge, however we finally made our way back to the Triton’s and moved on westwards. Our next stop was at Moonijin Nature Reserve. We parked up near a creek depression and went exploring. First orchid found was the small Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which is by far the most widespread of these little orchids of the P. gracile complex.

Next up a beautiful spider orchid is found. A single specimen firstly, then an amazing clump of flowers. The Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) can be either yellow, cream or pink-red in colour so they can easily be confused with other similar species from the C. filamentosa complex.

After finding the clump of spider orchids, it was nice to find some Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) which range from very pale pink to vivid pink in colour. They always have bright pink calli on the labellum, unless you are lucky enough to find a lutea form. The white form found could actually be the related Candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. hirta) as they do overlap in distribution, but maybe not this far inland.

Then another colour grabs our eyes. A donkey orchid is found which is probably the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris refracta) due to the broad, reflexed dorsal sepal, reflexed lateral sepals and of course the location.

Also found were more Ant orchids, so after taking some more photos we move onwards to our next stop.

We stop off in Dowerin and grab some lunch at the Dowerin Bakery, before moving on to an unnamed Nature Reserve on Berring-Nambling Road, south-west of town. First up we find more Pink candy orchids and other ones that seem to be Candy orchids, as they are larger and white in colour.

Woohoo, another new orchid for the day. The Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) has a distinctive look, which the common name suggests. Even the dorsal sepal in usually drooping. A clumping spider orchid, we are lucky to find some great clumps as well. These orchids are a common inland species found from Northampton to Jerramungup, during the months August through October.

Then some bright yellow catches our eye. The cheerful Cowslip orchid is found and from the markings it appears to be the Brookton Highway cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. “late red“) which is also identified by the leaf being regularly longer than the flower scape. However we are around 80kms north of the recorded distribution and they flower from late September, so these may just be the standard cowslip (C. flava subsp. flava) which vary greatly in size and colouring.

It’s now past 2pm so we had better keep moving. We pass through Goomalling and head toward Northam. We make one last stop at Cartamulligan Well Nature Reserve which has Southern Brook running through the middle. We turn off Watson road into a gravelled area and go exploring. It is quite weedy so unsure how successful we will be with finding many orchids.

Surprisingly, the first orchid discovered is the Candy orchid or maybe its the Pink candy orchid. As mentioned previously their distributions overlap and subsp. rosea can be very pale pink in colour, even appearing white, so identification can be difficult. Let me know your thoughts on the ID for these ones.

Definite Pink candy orchids are found later on and these are pics of some of them.

Excitedly we find a new species for the day. This orchid is common but we still get excited when something new is found on any given day. The Blue beard or Blue fairy orchid (Pheladenia deformis) is the only species in the genus Pheladenia. Given it’s common name, it is interesting to note that they do come in a white variety, though these are rare.

The last orchid to be recorded for today is also the first one found, back at the Booralaming Sports Centre. You guessed it, the Hairy-stemmed snail orchid, which again is a common orchid, although restricted to inland areas. Unlike this morning though, they are found in numbers at this location.

Just before 4pm we make tracks for Northam, our planned overnight stop. We are being soft tonight and book a motel room at the Dukes Inn. Here we enjoy a beautiful meal and comfy beds. At least 13 species found today, which is awesome.

15/08/2020 ….. Danberrin Hill to Perth (Road Trip 2020)

Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

Unlike our other mornings, we wake to sounds of other people. The church group are up and busy, so we have breakfast then decide to climb the rock before breaking camp.

Danberrin Rock Reserve

Pink candy orchid

(Caladenia hirta susbp. rosea)

Glistening spider orchid

(Caladenia incensum)

Time to head back down to the campers. We pack up saying our goodbyes to the church group, before heading off to Site 22 on the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail. Trayning Gnamma Holes are 18km north of Trayning and are listed as the largest in the district. Orchids were found alongside the track from the carpark to the gnamma holes.

Trayning Gnamma Holes

Common spider orchid

(Caladenia varians)

Blue beard, Blue fairy orchid

(Pheladenia deformis)

We then move south to Site 23 – Trayning Well a large rocked lined tank. It was situated right on the edge of the road so no opportunity to look for orchids. Then we head west to Yelbeni Town Site where the large, open shed museum is Site 24, the final stop on the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail.

The completion of the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail is reached as we drive back through Wyalkatchem and Dowerin, completing the loop. It was a great drive trail where we got to explore natural features and re-visit the history of the areas visited. We part ways with Richard as we head into Toodyay, to visit the Christmas Shop, whilst Richard heads to his home.

Today was more history than orchids but was a great end to the Trail. We will be spending a few days in Perth visiting relatives. Plan to head off again on the 18/8.

14/08/2020 ….. Weira Reserve to Danberrin Hill (Road Trip 2020)

Billyacatting Hill NR, Nature Reserves, Other Reserves, Road Trip, Weira Reserve, Western Australian Orchids

Another leisurely morning, where we have breakfast and pack up the campers, before heading off exploring the reserve, with Deb this time. We check out the breakaway as we did yesterday, then make our way back to the campsite for the walk trail to the gnamma hole.

Weira Reserve

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)

Glistening spider orchid

(Caladenia incensum)

Caladenia dimidia X Caladenia incensum

Dainty blue orchid

(Cyanicula amplexans)

Chameleon spider orchid

(Caladenia dimidia)

Green-veined shell orchid

(Pterostylis scabra)

We arrived at the gnamma hole , however it was a weed infested area so we quickly trekked back to the campers to move on. No photos taken. The next stop on the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail was Site 19, a place called Wattoning Historical Site. Here we first took time to have lunch before finding a place to check for orchids. Nothing discovered so we move on.

We then backtracked, stopping to take photos of Cleomine, a wind driven tribute to a local racehorse, then an old grain silo relocated to Mukinbudin, before arriving at Site 20 – Mangowine Homestead. This historical location was once an inn where travellers to the goldfields rested up. It was an interesting stop but alas still no orchids.

We then decided to visit site 21, Billyacatting Hill, before reaching Nungarin, as we plan to camp south of the town. We did not wish to backtrack North tomorrow.

Billyacatting Nature Reserve

Ant orchid, Clown orchid, Man orchid, Jack-in-the-Box

(Caladenia roei)

Yellow granite donkey orchid

(Diuris hazeliae)

Jug orchid, Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid, Bull orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Mallee banded greenhood

(Pterostylis arbuscula)

Drooping spider orchid

(Caladenia radialis)

Green-veined shell orchid

(Pterostylis scabra)

Pink candy orchid

(Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)

Blue beard

(Pheladenia deformis)

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)

Rufous greenhood complex orchid

(Pterostylis sp.)

Leaving Billyacatting Rock we backtrack to the Nungarin North Road and head south. Bypassing Nungarin, we find our planned location, Danberrin Hill. The campground was already occupied by a group of people, however as it was getting late we decided to pull up and setcamp. Over the next hour or so more people turn up and we are completely surrounded by a church group who set up a big campfire. We are serenaded with gospel singing, however we provide late night entertainment for them as well. An interesting night to finish off a great day exploring. 12 species located, plus 1 possible hybrid and an emerging rufous type greenhood.

12/08/2020 ….. Billiburning Rock to Elachbutting Rock (Road Trip 2020)

Billiburning Reserve, Datjoin Well and Rock, Other Reserves, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

We wake to a wintery morning with grey clouds and the threat of rain. We quickly have breakfast then start to pack up camp. Unfortunately the rain arrives and we rush to pack up in the pouring rain. Not ideal but we will set up again tonight so it will dry out then.

We head back south to Beacon, then head east to the next stop. Site 12 of the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail is Datjoin Rock and Well Reserve.

Datjoin (Dahjoing) Well

Blue beard, Blue fairy orchid

(Pheladenia deformis)

Pink candy orchid

(Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)

Drooping spider orchid

(Caladenia radialis)

Chameleon spider orchid

(Caladenia dimidia)

(Caladenia radialis x incensum)

Dark-tipped spider orchid

(Caladenia x exoleta)

Ant orchid, Clown orchid, man orchid, Jack-in-the-box

(Caladenia roei)

Yellow granite donkey orchid

(Diuris hazeliae)

Leaving after a good 2 hours of searching we head to the next site along the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail. Site 13 is the Bonnie Rock townsite. Behind the hall is a wonderful new toilet and shower facility. We decide to have a nice hot shower and prepare lunch. Refreshed we then move onto Site 14 Beringbooding Rock. We go for a walk onto the rock which was excellent , however no orchids were found. The largest rock water catchment tank in Australia is located here. Deb and I had camped here on a previous trip, however as it is only early we move on, with plans to camp at the next location.

We arrive at Site 15 Elachbutting Rock just after 2pm and visit the Wave Rock, Monty’s Pass and Kings Cave, before driving around to the south eastern side, where we find a place to camp. I go for a clamber over the nearby rock after camp is set. It is too steep to climb up far, so end up skirting along the base for a bit then making my way back to camp.

Elachbutting Rock

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)

Ant orchid, Clown orchid, Jack-in-the-box, Man orchid

Finished the day around another campfire, grateful that the wet weather did not follow us from our morning showers. Seven species and some hybrids found today so was an OK day.

11/08/2020 ….. Koorda to Billiburning Rock(Road Trip 2020)

Billiburning Reserve, Koorda Native Flora Reserve, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

After a wonderful sleep and hearty breakfast at the Koorda Hotel it is time to head off to Site 7 of the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail. Koorda Native Flora Reserve has 3 walk trails. We tackle the Yellow Walk Trail. The other 2 will have to wait a return visit.

Koorda Native Flora Reserve

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)



Next stop was Site 8 – Gabbin Townsite where we completed the Town walk trail. Very interesting history. We then moved onto Bencubbin to fuel up, then headed to Beacon, bypassing Sites 9 (Marshall Rock) and 10 (Pergande Sheep Yards) as we had all visited them on a previous Road Trip. Interesting little installation with a Honey theme discovered on Ingleton road in Tampu. (Refer Featured Image)



Billiburning Rock

Site 11 of the Wheatbelt Way Drive Trail. We arrived around 1pm and made the decision to stay here for the night. After setting up camp and having a bite to eat for lunch, we set off on a wander around and onto the rock to see what we could see.

Dainty blue orchid

(Cyanicula amplexans)



Blue beard, Blue fairy orchid

(Pheladenia deformis)

Little laughing leek orchid

(Prasophyllum gracile)

Hairy-stemmed snail orchid

(Pterostylis setulosa)

Pink candy orchid

(Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea)

Glistening spider orchid

(Caladenia incensum)

Ant orchid, Clown orchid, Man orchid, Jack-in-the Box

(Caladenia roei)

“Rufous greenhood complex” orchid

(Pterostylis sp.)

Well this location proved to be an awesome spot for orchids given the previous poor showings so far this trip. 8 species in total today so we settled in for a fun night around the campfire to celebrate.

08/08/2020 ….. Esperance to Corrigin (Road Trip 2020)

Nature Reserves, Overshot Hill NR, Pallarup NR, Road Trip, Springdale NR, Western Australian Orchids

Leaving Esperance at just after 7am we are finally on our way. This year I will be listing the orchids found at each stop on our journey. I will group the photos of a particular orchid together rather than post them in chronological order. If needed a little narrative about the trip may be added to a location based on anything that occurred on the way to it, during the visit itself or is planned after. Please provide me any feedback on this structure as I am open to suggestions how I can improve the blog or spice it up a bit… Thanks!!

Springdale Nature Reserve

This Nature Reserve was burnt out last summer and has proven this season to be successful in providing excellent orchid finds. Today is no exception.

Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber)

Green Range donkey orchid

(Diuris littoralis)

Blue beard , Blue fairy orchid

(Pheladenia deformis)

Little pink fairy, Dwarf pink fairy

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Reaching spider orchid

(Caladenia arrecta)

Mills Road verge

Turning into Mills road off the South Coast Hwy, west of Munglinup, we stop at one of our regular road verge stops. To our dismay the area had been graded so the usual orchid habitat was destroyed. Luckily some orchids seem to like disturbed ground, whilst other areas had missed the destruction.

Cream spider orchid

(Caladenia horistes)