First day of Winter so where should we go today for our orchid hunt? Let us go north. So we head off up the Coolgardie-Norseman Hwy and get as far as Fleming Grove Road before we stop to have our first explore. Loads of Hare orchid leaves and spent flowers are found. Then Pterostylis rosettes start to appear and finally some Banded Greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are found in flower.
Nothing else found so we head back to the Highway to continue north. However we make a last minute change and head over the Hwy into Boydell Road, heading west. Driving along we pull over to the side of the road and check out a bit of scrubland that appeared to contain some granite rock. This proved incorrect however we did find some possible King-in-his-carriage orchid (Drakaea glyptodon) leaves. Left a marker on the road in the hope of returning to find it flowering in August. Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) leaves also found, with some spend orchids to confirm flowering had occurred. As they can flower from as early as March it was great to find some recognisable hare orchid flowers. Finally for this new location a Banded greenhood was also found and photographed.
Travelling further east on Boydell road we turn right at the Cascades Road intersection. Our planned stop is Cascade Nature Reserve which we had visited a few years back and found some shell orchids. Unfortunately it appears to be too early for the shell orchids to be flowering this year. Just found some very small rosettes with the buds just sprouting. After exploring for a time we find many spent Pygmy orchids (Corunastylis fuscoviridis) which flower during April and May. Banded greenhoods are found just before we head back to the Triton. Cascade Falls off Loop road will be our final destination of the day.
Parking above the falls we walk down along the bank to the falls, which are just flowing at this stage of the season. From here we check out the parking area , then walk back along the track to the Triton. No flowering orchids found so we head back to the South-coast Hwy via Coomalbidgup for the drive back home. Not too bad a way to kill off 4 hours or so on a public holiday Monday.
After a sleep in we pack up the Triton and head out east to our rock location off Merivale road. We arrive just in time for lunch, so getting our priorities right, we eat first. Whilst eating, we wander around the old abandoned picnic area and find spent White bunny orchid plants, so we may be a bit late in their season.
Just as we were to head off up the slope to the granite, 2 orchids are found in flower. Based on the leaf size I believe them to be Granite bunny orchids(Eriochilus pulchellus)which as the name suggests occur at granite outcrops from Northcliffe to Balladonia. They can grow up to 150mm in height and can have up to 10 flowers per plant. Further specimens were located as were searched around and on the granite.
On the other side of the granite outcrop I thought I had come across another bunny orchid species. This one though has larger leaves so appears to be the White bunny orchid (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus). However on closer inspection they appear to be more Granite bunny orchids. The leaves are just towards the larger size for the species which can be 5 to 15mm in length and 3 to 8 mm in width. Others were subsequently found, with one having 6 flowers and standing easily 150mm in height.
We then moved onto the other large granite outcrop, however nothing new was found just more Granite bunny orchids. Once we got back to the picnic area I went back to what I thought was a lone orchid growing in the made made embankment which channels the water flowing off the granite away from the picnic site. There turned out to be a bunch of plants with one reaching 430mm in height. Identification confusion as the bunny orchids that reach that height both grow in the south west corner not East of Esperance.
We now decide to move on and head a little further north to our Coolinup Road locations. At the small granite rock location further Granite bunny orchids are found. At our latest location we locate a newly flowering Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) and some wonderful Hare orchids (Leporella fimbriata). At the granite section of this new location I am sure some of the bunnies found are White bunny orchids (Eriochilus dilatatus subsp. dilatatus) as the leaf on one of them is over 50mm in length. Took some photos with coloured card as backdrop to see if the orchid would stand out better. Please provide feedback in comments on preferences.
Off to Stokes National Park today for a walk along the trail from the Day use area to the Benwenerup Campground. We collected a friend (Deb C.) in Esperance to join us on the adventure today. We arrived at the park and after grabbing a water bottle each we commenced the walk by climbing the stairs up the embankment. From here the compacted walk trail follows the embankment with 2 lookouts over the inlet before crossing over the access road for the section to the campground. Only orchids found flowering were the Banded greenhoods.
At the campground further greenhoods were found. So after a short rest we made our way back along the trail to the access road, which we followed back to the day use area. Pictures taken of the Showy Banksia (Banksia speciosa) flowers and Zamia palms (Macrozamia dyeri) which were found in good numbers along this section of the trail. After eating our lunch, we spent some time on the inlet banks, then made tracks back to Esperance. A wonderful day out in the sunny Autumn weather.
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!!!!!!
We wake up to a beautiful sunny spring morning. A leisurely breakfast was enjoyed as we know our destination today, so no need to rush. It’s after 9am before we finally leave Flat Rock Nature Reserve and head off in an easterly direction down the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. We reach Lake Varley and pull over on the side of the road and decide to check out the flat granite outcrop, which we later find is a part of the Lake Varley Nature Reserve.
Deb finds the first orchid growing under the scrub at the edge of the rock. The wonderful yellow donkey orchids are again flowering at the edge of the rock under the protection of the scrubs. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) is know to grow in the region with sightings recorded in Atlas of Living Australia. Kulin shire is also one of the Local Government Areas (LGA) listed in Florabase as being a location for this orchid. Links to these resources are found via the “+” sign at the bottom of every page.
Close by some wispy spider orchids are found. Due the creamy colouring of the flowers they appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes) which flowers from August to early-October over an easterly range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia, however Kulin LGA is listed in Florabase as a location for this orchid.
Another yellow orchid pops up. The wonderful Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) is such a cheerful orchid to find. Bright yellow flowers with such random markings; from spots, stripes, blotches to barely none at all. This little grouping has mainly spots. The view back to the Triton provides an indication of the habitat we are exploring.
Other orchids found were a solitary Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) . Both have vast inland ranges and flower during September.
Then a perfect specimen of the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is found in all it’s glory. Another inland orchid but only found from Northampton to Jerramungup, so not as widespread as the Sugar or Hairy stemmed Snail orchids.
Well now the Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) turns up to entertain us. They are said to resemble a crucifix due to the petals and lateral sepals.
Then came across more Sugar orchids and a grouping of Western wheatbelt donkey orchids before finally heading back to the Triton. Last small orchids found were the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile)which were camouflaged well in the moss on the granite rock.
Time to move onto our next place to explore. We detour a slight bit to check out Holt Rock. We drive into the day use area of Holt Rock but chose not to go for an exploration, though it looks like a great place to check out another time. Further south we arrive at Varley and go check out a place on the map named Dempster Rock. After a little searching we find a track into the approximate area. Looking out our windows we are rewarded with orchids.
Some old favourites were the first found. Sugar orchids and Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) . Both are common orchids but always a pleasure to find.
Then the spider orchids start jumping out of the woodlands. They have strong yellow tonings and therefore appear to be the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) which flowers July to September in the range Paynes Find to Norseman. My references refer to them being yellow, cream or pink-red in colour with either a small pale yellow or pale white red striped labellum. Whiter specimens are found close by.
Identifying the spider orchids is difficult given many overlap in locations and they have similar features. The Western wispy spider orchid and the Ironcaps spider orchid both also have smaller labellums than others plus the Ironcaps spider orchid also varies in colour from creamy-white to pale yellow. All three orchids are shown as being located in the Varley area in the Atlas of Living Australia.
Now we do find other orchids as well, so I will mention these ones now before adding more varied spider orchid photos. Hairy-stemmed snail orchids, Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis), Little laughing leek orchids, sugar orchids and Western wheatbelt donkey orchids are found.
The most amazing find though was a Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). The reason for my amazement – is it’s height of 190mm. The tallest I have ever seen. These orchids are found in all the states of Australia which is quite amazing.
Now back to these other spider orchids. Firstly we found more Drooping spider orchids or are they? Possible hybrid with the c. dimidia as the labellum is very pale in colour with smooth margins. So I will leave the actual identification for now.
Then other spider orchids found. Some in clumps and some in isolation but all beautiful as ever. Some white, whilst others had reddish tones. Any help in naming these would be appreciated.
Getting peckish, so we finally leave this great new location and head back to Varley then down to Lake King for a meal at the tavern. After a great counter lunch and beer, we cruise further south to one of our favourite patches, Pallarup Rock. Located in the Pallarup Nature Reserve this location proves a fruitful orchid patch on most visits. Today is no exception. Within minutes we locate the first of many orchids. The Pink candy orchid (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found in many colour variations. This first one is very pale but others are bright pink.
Next up we find some donkey orchids. The Western wheatbelt donkey orchid has been recorded in the Lake Grace shire whilst the other possible orchid, the Green Range donkey orchid is recorded in the Ravensthorpe shire which is nearer the coast. The basal leaves observed are not that wide which is causing me some angst in trying to ID them, so I will just posts the pics.
We now move onto the track to the water tank and at the junction find some more Sugar orchids. Then on the side of this track the first orchids found are Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii)which was named in honour of Oswald Sargent in 1905. He was an early West Australian orchidologist and pharmacist from York, where the specimen used to name it was collected in 1904.
Moving along the track the first of the spider orchids appear. The first one is an excellent example of the wispy complex. As there is one lonely specimen I will not attempt to name it, as there are too many variables with these wispy spider orchids. It could be one of three known to this location or a hybrid between two of them.
Close by is another spider orchid, but from the White spider orchid compex this time. As the sepals and petals are not that pendulous I believe this to be the Rigid white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. rigidula) which is found between Ravensthorpe and Israelite bay from August to October. Florabase records Lake Grace and Dundas LGA’s as also being the location of this orchid, so 50kms north of Ravensthorpe in the Lake Grace shire seems appropriate.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as an unnamed subspecies of Caladenia longicauda. I will provide my own common name as Pallarup Rock white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. ‘Pallarup Rocks’). Exciting to find a new subspecies.
A small blue orchid catches Deb’s eagle eye. A lone china orchid is found. This pretty blue orchid has not been found in this location on any of our numerous prior visits, so this is an exciting find. Due to the darker blue colouring, scattered calli on labellum and the location this orchid must be the Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata) which has the largest range of all china orchids in WA, being from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay. Flowering period is August to early-November. The one feature that did cause me confusion with the ID was the colour of the labellum, as the mostly blue labellum conflicted with the pictures in my references, which show the labellum as being mostly white or blue striped.
EDIT: With thanks to Margaret’s assistance (refer comments) the ID has been clarified as the Granite china orchid (Cyanicula nikulinskyae) which is restricted to a range between Fitzgerald River National Park and Israelite Bay. My location is 50kms north of this coastline. Flowering period is September to early-November.
Further white spider orchids were found and their features confirm my identification as Rigid white spider orchids. Also another wispy spider orchid is found and this one appears to be the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata)which as the name suggests is found over a large area, from Kalbarri to Esperance, flowering during the period July to mid-October.
Next up we come across some Ant orchids. They are also known as Clown orchid, Man orchid and Jack-in-the Box.
More yellow patches are seen growing in the Pincushion plant (Borya constricta) and Sundew (Drosera). The Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October. The latin name antennifer (antennae) refers to the little lobes on the column.
Many more spider orchids are found together with patches of Cowslips and Blue beards popping up here and there. A wonderful kaleidoscope of colours.
A relative of the Ant orchid is also found in the scrub around the rock. The Short-sepaled spider orchid (Caladenia brevisura) is a common orchid found between Ravensthorpe to Israelite Bay. We have previously found these orchids east of Esperance at Condingup so we have now found them at both edges of their range.
Other orchids found in our exploration of Pallarup Rock are the Jug orchid, Little laughing leek orchid and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (or is it?) .
4.30 in the afternoon so time to move on to Ravensthorpe for our overnight stay. We spend our last night of our road trip as we did on our first night. Staying with our son, Timothy in his little duplex unit in Ravensthorpe.
Went to bed happy to have discovered at least 19 species today, which is amazing. Also a tinge of sadness as tomorrow is our final day.
Whilst having breakfast we are walking around in the sunshine when I spy what appears to be a black poly pipe coming from the leach drain of the Septic Tank at the back of the toilets. However it then moved and scared the beejesus out of me. I called out to Deb who arrived in time to see it wriggle backwards back into its hole. Whoa we steer clear of that area as we pack up. We drove around the back of the toilets as we left and it was back out, sunning itself. It lifted it’s head to watch us move by.
So we now make our way further east to a place called Roe Dam. The dam was initially planned in 1929 but put off as too costly and was finally built in 1970/71, to provide the Mt Walker farming community with water. The catchment area is 140 acres (56ha) of granite rock and the dam holds 20 million gallons (91 million litres). We pull into the old picnic area as the dam area appears to be out of bounds. This old area has working toilets and shade to park up so all good. First stop for the day so off we go exploring.
First orchids found are the Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) which as the name suggests are easily identified by their hairy stem. Other than this they are extremely variable in appearance ranging from 50 to 250mm in height, lateral sepals are from 10 to 35mm in length and stem leaves can be 8 to 20mm in length.
Moving towards the granite outcrop we also find a small donkey orchid. This one is much duller than the ones found on previous days. From this it would appear to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa)which flowers from July to September in locations east of the Albany highway from York down to Tenterden then east to Ravensthorpe. Florabase records the Narembeen shire as one such location.
Then nearby a splash of blue catches our eye. On closer inspection it is a Blue beard (Pheladenia deformis) which is a common orchid found from the Murchison River to Israelite Bay, as well as all the other southern states of Australia. They were originally classified as Caladenia back in 1810, then placed in Pheladenia in 2001.
Another orchid was found in the company of a snail orchid. The Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata) is another common inland orchid, being found from Paynes Find to Israelite Bay. It is a distinctive white flowering orchid with purple lined labellum lobes.
Then just before we reach the granite another type of orchid is found. The Ant orchid (Caladenia roei) is one of the most regularly encountered orchids of the Wheatbelt. It flowers from Eurardy Station to Ravensthorpe during the months August to October. Named in honour of John Septimus Roe, the first surveyor general of WA in 1873.
Upon reaching the granite outcrop, we slowly ascent and find another donkey orchid growing in the vegetated sections of the rock. The bright Yellow granite donkey orchid (Diuris hazeliae) is found again which is not surprising as they range from Paynes Find to Salmon Gums over the months of August and September. It is great to find 2 species of Diuris in the one location.
I get caught up taking lots of photos and Deb gets to scout ahead. She calls out that she has found loads of Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophylum gracile) of both colour variations. So over I trot to grab some photos and there is Deb laying down getting her own shots. These little guys are very widespread and flower over a 4 mth season.
We are now looking down at the dam, which is fenced off so we decide to descend to the woodlands below and make our way back to the picnic area. As soon as we leave the rock and enter the woodlands we discover another spider orchid. This time it is the Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) which are found from Northampton to Jerramungup during the period August to October. As the name suggests both the petals and sepals usually droop down. We find loads of these orchids throughout the woodlands, many in clumps, which is a feature of this orchid.
Intermixed with all the drooping spider orchids were more Blue beards, Ant orchids and the favourite Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which we have not seen for a while now (Last found 31/8 in Bunbury).
Now there was one special little orchid found which had yet to fully unfurl, but we had to grab a photo or two. It appears to be a hypochromic Drooping spider orchid.
Time to move on, so we jump in the Triton and head south to Hidden Hollow at Mt Walker. First up we have a bite for lunch then decide to take the Hidden Hollow Walk Trail. There is a small dam built at the base of the rock. The sign advises it was built to wash out the hessian bags which were then dried on the rock. This pre-dated the introduction of bulk handling of grain and fertilizer.
We make it to the so called Amphitheatre without sighting any orchids which was disappointing. However in the wet moss on the rocks below this feature Deb finds many more Little laughing leek orchids. Some of them are really dark in colour.
As the rock did not produce much in the way of orchids we decide to make the way back to the parking area via the woodlands at the base of the granite. Within minutes we have found a different orchid. The common Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava)is found. This is by far the most common and widespread of the four subspecies. In close proximity is the likeable Ant orchid
A little further along we discover one then many more Fringed mantis orchids (Caladenia falcata) which flower from August to October over a range from Wongan Hills to Jerramungup. Distinctive feature are upswept lateral sepals which are narrowly clubbed.
Among all these Fringed mantis orchids are other Ant orchids and a lonely Sugar orchid. Plus some greenhoods were found, however they had finished their flowering and had closed up. Then one was found with two flowers still open and from the colouring, size of plant and number of flowers I believe this to be the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula) which flower until early September in inland locations from Northampton to Eyre.
Then to top of our finds we come across some wonderful Caladenia hybrids. The Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis)is a hybrid between the Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava) and the Pink fairy (Caladenia latifolia). Narembeen is a location for both these parents so seems fitting we find their babies.
We make it back to the Triton and decide to head off without really knowing where we will stop next. Taking the road back towards Narembeen, we actually miss the town as we come out south of it on the Kondinin-Narembeen Road. We drive through Kondinin and move down towards Kulin, where we decide to check out the below pictured trail again, which is located just out of Kulin.
The trail is around 1.1km in length, so off we trot on our search for orchids. First up we come across some Jug orchids, which are unique in the shape of their flowers. Other common names are: Recurved shell orchid, Antelope orchid and Bull orchid.
Next up we find some small white spider orchids. From the size of the labellum I will be calling these ones the Western wispy spider orchids (Caladenia microchila) which flower from July to October over an inland range of Kondinin to Madura.
Then we move from white spider orchids to green spider orchids. A wonderful pair of Fringed mantis orchids is found. Their leaves were so healthy when compared to other mantis orchids found, so just had to get a photo of them.
Now time to find orchids that are not from the Caladenia genre. Lucky for us the small Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) start to appear along the side of the track. Found from Northampton to Grasspatch during the season July to October, the Frog greenhood is a common inland orchid.
Then we find a bevy of orchids of different types within cooee of each other. There is the Sugar orchid, Jug orchid, Mallee banded greenhood and Hairy-stemmed snail orchid.
Whilst jostling around to get the photos a lone speck of pink catches my eye. There is a Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which cannot be seen from the track, however as I was off the track taking photos it came into view. These little beauties grow from July till October between Northampton and Esperance.
Further along the track a donkey orchid appears. Then others show up the more we explore. The ID is difficult as the single one appears bright yellow with dark markings, which is akin to the Yellow granite donkey orchid, however the mutli flowered one is paler with lighter marking so appears to be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid. Florabase records Kulin as a location for the later only so I will leave it up to others the help with the positive ID.
Further orchids found, however nothing new so took a few more pics before heading back to the Triton for the final leg of today.
Heading east from Kulin we turn south towards Pingaring to see if there was somewhere to camp overnight. We drove around the edge of the bush block that incorporated the golf course and Nature Reserve but there was no obvious place to stay. So back to the Kulin-Holt Rock Road. Heading further east we finally pull into a gravel pit at the edge of Flat Rock Nature Reserve. This will be our camp for the night.
So today was very much unplanned but we found loads of orchids, which is great. We found 15 species, 1 hybrid and 1 hypochromic orchid, so definitely one of our better days this trip. After a beautiful sunset we hit the sack.
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.
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).