08/09/2021 ….. Dinninup to Stirling Range Retreat

Greater Kingston NP, Mickalurrup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Six Mile Road NR, Unicup NR, Warrenup NR, Western Australian Orchids

After spending a wonderful night with our gracious hosts we pass through Dinninup and head down Six Mile Road and make our first stop at Six Mile Road Nature Reserve.

The ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) is the first orchid found. These are a common orchid occurring over a wide range, from Geraldton to Israelite Bay. It is a unique species in the Pterostylis genus so has not been included in any of the 5 complexes. Other common names include the Bull orchid, Antelope orchid and Recurved shell orchid.

Very soon after the equally reliable Little Pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found. They are commonly found growing in clumps and are distinguished from the Pink fairy by having a purplish/red colouring to the underside of their leaf, rather than green. Also quite a widespread orchid with populations found from Northampton To Esperance

Then another stunning orchid is found. The Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) which flowers between Jurien Bay and Esperance, is quite the stunner. The spotted labellum is very distinctive and the flowers can be up to 40mm in width, which are large enough to stand out in the bush.

Next found are numerous donkey orchids. These orchids are very difficult to identify due to all species being very similar in appearance plus many overlap in their distributions. Any help in identifying these orchids would be appreciated.

Leaving this Nature Reserve we move on, to who knows where as we are just winging our stops by using the Hema map book and Google maps. We locate a patch of bush, which is signposted as the Mickalurrup Nature Reserve but I cannot locate any reference to it online other than as a hotspot in eBird, so its location at the intersection of Westbourne Road is my only location detail for reference purposes.

A quick inspection does not turn up much. Some more donkey orchids (un-named), a Little pink fairy and some snail orchids (un-named). So onwards we go as it is now past 11am

Next stop is further south at the location Heartlea forest settlement, which is located in the Greater Kingston National Park. We head off with low expectations given the finds so far today, but are blown away by finding a brand new species for us. ūüôā

The Little pink fan orchid (Caladenia nana subsp. nana) is a small orchid that flowers between Perth and Bremer Bay, in forest and woodland habitats. Being so small we struggled to get any decent pics but will share them anyways.

Other orchids found here were more Little pink fairies, donkey orchids (unnamed) and a Silky blue orchid.

Then just as we were leaving this spot a single spider orchid is spotted. From the options available for the range and colourings I believe it is a Joseph’s spider orchid (Caladenia polychroma) which flowers in September & October between Fitzgerald River National Park and Boyup Brook.

As our planned destination for the day is still some 200kms away and it now 12.30, we return to the road. As is usual for us we don’t make it far before stopping to have a quick look around, this time at a layby near Tonebridge.

We again find some donkey orchids which I will not attempt to ID, but more excitingly we come across some more spider orchids. Theses appear different to the one found earlier and are most likely the Tenterden yellow spider orchid (Caladenia straminichila) which is pale yellow to creamy yellow in colour with basally backswept petals.

Next stop is Unicup Lake which is located in the Unicup Nature Reserve. It appears a Water Ski club used to exist here, as there is an old tin shed still in existence. We have lunch here before exploring the nearby area for orchids.

First up the Little pink fairy is found followed up by Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) and some more Snail orchids (unnamed). The round, green, ground hugging leaves of the Midge orchid are found in great numbers however as the midge orchid flowers are very well camouflaged, you need to stand still and look closely to see them.

A very exciting find is the Crab-lipped spider orchid (Caladenia plicata) which I believe is a new species for us. This little orchid flowers from September to early November in woodlands, forests and Mallee-heaths. Located between Nannup and Hopetoun, this orchid reaches up to only 350mm in height and is distinguished by it’s unusual shaped labellum and spreading fringe segments.

With further searching we find more orchids but nothing really new for the day. Snail orchids are found but naming them is just too difficult so if you have any idea of their identification, please comment on this post. Also some Corybas sp. leaves were found with some showing old withered flowers.

As we need to keep moving we head back to the Triton and hit the road again. We only get as far as Kulunilup Nature Reserve before pulling over to the side of the road. On a quick check nothing is found so we move on. Further along a bit we pull off the road at Kenny’s Tank which is located in the Warrenup Nature Reserve and take the 5 min walk towards the tank. However we are beaten back by the swarms of mozzies but do find loads of orchids, which is great.

First orchids discovered were donkeys orchids, however naming these is also difficult. Using Florabase and Atlas of Living Australia they may be one of 2 species. (D. corymbosa or D. porrifolia). Nearby the donkey orchids was the old faithful Jug orchid.

The large white spider orchids then start appearing in numbers as do the mozzies. As none are founds in clumps and based on the location I feel they are the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda). Listed in Florabase as being found in the Cranbrook local government area, plus with a photographic record in the Spider Orchid EBook 2018 from Frankland WA, I am confident in the ID.

Also found were Little pink fairies, Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp, flava) and Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata), which are all quite common orchids. Also seen was a sole Lemon-scented sun orchid in bud and masses of spent Mosquito or Midge orchids.

From nowhere, a sole Joseph’s spider orchid is seen, so some pics were taken.

I go across the road to check out a particular sign and discover some White spider orchids in clumps as well as one that looks a little different. The clumping ones must be some Stark white spider orchids (Caladenia longicauda subsp. eminens) whilst the unusual one could be a Tangled white spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta), which is smaller in size and has shorter fringe segments than other longicauda complex orchids.

So even though we were fighting off the mozzies, the orchids found made it worth it. However we must move on, so we jump back into the Triton but only get 5 mins down the road when masses of White spider orchids on the roadside force us to pull-over. We are near the Yeriminup Road intersection.

These must be more Stark white spider orchids due to their clumping habit. Also found was another donkey orchid and another Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which is trying to open up.

OK, it’s now past 4pm and we still have close to 100kms to get to our planned overnight stop. So foot to the petal and off we go. We arrive at the Stirling Range Retreat, check-in, then unpack ourselves into our small cabin. At least we will stay dry as the weather moves in.

Not too shabby a day with 14 species found, plus un-named Donkey and Snail orchids. Also the Crab-lipped spider orchid and Little pink fan orchids were brand new species for us, so that was exciting.

07/09/2021 ….. Wellington National Park to Condinup Crossing

Collie SF, Condinup Reserve, National Parks, Numerous days, Other Reserves, Preston (Greater) NP, Road Trip, State Forest, Wellington NP, Western Australian Orchids, Wilga SF

Waking up in the middle of the bush is such an amazing way to start the day. After an enjoyable relaxing breakfast we venture into the bush for an explore. Close to our camp we stumble across some snail orchids. Possibly Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens ) even though it is not recorded at this location in either the Atlas of Living Australia or Florabase. The uniformly thickened lateral sepals, pointed hood and red colouring though all allude to this identification. In the reference books, its location is listed as between Mandurah and Albany, which one would think includes Wellington National Park.

Further afield we find the colourful Little pink fairy (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) which is a common orchid found from Northampton to Esperance. The easiest way to distinguish them from the similar Pink Fairy is the colour to the reverse of their leaf. Little pink fairies are red whilst pink fairies are green.

Then we are very happy with our next find. The Bird orchid (Pterostylis barbata) is the most widespread of this complex, with it’s range occurring from Bindoon to Albany. The dorsal sepal and petals form a hood, whilst the lateral sepals are long and narrow. The featherlike labellum, appears to erupt from a burst belly.

Next up some more common pterostylis sp. orchids are found. The ever reliable Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) and the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) are found, but only one specimen of each, which is unusual.

Then more snail orchids are found and upon closer inspection they have crinkled edged leaves on their rosette. They must be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) which is found in forests between Perth and Albany.

Another colour then catches our eye. We find a Silky blue orchid (Cyanicula sericea) partly open so grab a snap. However a bit later on we find some fully open. These beautiful orchids flower over most of the southwest, from Jurien Bay to Fitzgerald River National Park. They are also listed as being found east of Esperance, which is interesting. A population separated from the main location is referred to as a disjunct occurrence.

Well finally time to move on, so we leave our overnight campsite and venture back south towards Mungalup road. Rather than go back to the dam we turn at River Road and make a stop just past the Transmission Tower north of Pile Road. Here we locate some more Red-sepaled snail orchids, Jug orchids and Little pink fairies.

Turning onto Pile Road we travel east and flow into Mungalup road. Further along we then turn off into the Collie State Forest, onto a gravel track named Lyalls Log Road and head into the unknown. At a small creek crossing we stop to investigate. Here we find some snail orchids growing on the banks. Due to the uniformly thickened lateral sepals and the hairy stem, they must be more Red-sepaled snail orchids.

We then move away from the crossing to pull off the track in case anyone else comes along. We then continue our investigation of the nearby open bushland. Here we find more beautiful Silky blue orchids which stand out in the gravely ground.

Then a Bird orchid is found looking like it is giving praise to the heavens. Later on further blooming Bird orchids are found.

The usual suspects for today are found again. Banded greenhood, Little pink fairy and Jug orchid. Ok, I wonder if anything else will turn up. We widen our search with fingers crossed.

Our hopes are rewarded, with some Clubbed spider orchids (Caladenia longiclavata) found interspersed between the trees. This orchid flowers from September to early November and is distributed between Perth and Albany growing in forests and woodlands. It grow up to 400mm in height and has a single , erect hairy leaf which can be up to 180mm in length. Now the orchids could also be the Big clubbed spider orchid (c. magniclavata) as the clubbed sections of the lateral sepals seem to be half the length which is a distinguishing feature, whilst the previously mentioned Clubbed spider orchid has clubs around 1/3rd the length of the sepals. What do you think is the right ID?

Then we are amazed to find another type of spider orchid as well. The Leaping spider orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) flowers from August to early November over a range between Albany and Bindoon. The species name refers to the broad wings to the column. Another distinguishing feature is the dense central cluster of deep, purplish calli.

After nearly 40 mins searching this location we decide we had best move on. We did not get to far along the road before we pull over again. Another new orchid for today is found. The small Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii) needs a steady hand to get a good shot. Unfortunately no steady hand between us ūüė¶ , however will post the best pic. These little guys flower July to September so we are lucky to find some still in flower.

What caught our eye and made us stop at this spot was the large flock of Bird orchids. Also mixed in was a lone Little pink fairy. Photos taken we move on, but don’t get very far, coz a double headed Little pink fairy catches our eye.

Our road eventually terminates at a T junction with Mungalup Tower road and we head south. This road terminates at a tree plantation, so we skirt along the boundary of this plantation until we reach Lyalls Mill Road. So we end up stopping multiple times along the way as orchids catch our eye. A random selection of photos taken is posted for your enjoyment, as no new species were found.

Being close to Glen Mervyn Dam we decide to pull into the picnic area for our lunch. (Refer feature picture) Whilst enjoying lunch overlooking the beautiful water, we discover a nice little grouping of Little pink fairies and another jug orchid. However we do not venture far as we still have a ways to go before our planned overnight stay at Debbie’s cousin Kerry’ farm.

Still around 80-100kms to travel, however we only make it to Noggerup before stopping again. We take a road into the Preston National Park (Shown as Greater Preston NP in Maps) where we go for an exploration. We find orchids, however no new species which is disappointing, but hey, orchids are orchids, so of course we take many photos.

We head back to the Donnybrook Boyup Brook road and move south to Camballan Road, where we stop for another search, this time in the Wilga State Forest. At last we find a new species for the day. The quirky Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) is found standing proud. It is quite unique in appearance, given the petals and lateral sepals are held horizontally. Another new species for the day is the Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) which is usually found everywhere, but we only find one lone specimen here. Other orchids found were the Little pink fairy and Jug orchid.

A little further along the road we make one final stop in the Wilga State Forest, as farmland is looming. Only found a Banded greenhood in our quick search though. So we moved on and pulled over on the verge of Condinup road for a slightly longer search (15 mins). Here we found some Little pink fairies, Cowslip and Jug orchids.

We were amazed by the large numbers of donkey orchids found here. There are 3 listed in Florabase as occurring in the Boyup Brook shire but only 1 of these is listed in Atlas of Living Australia. That one being the Purple pansy orchid , which they are definitely not, so I will just refer to them as Donkey orchids (Diuris sp.). As per usual, please comment if you can help identify the species.

Getting close to our destination, so we move on and go over Condinup Crossing, where we pull up at a previously known location. Deb heads off straight away looking for the white spider orchids, whilst I do my usual wander. She did find a couple of them and from the location I feel they could be the White spider orchid (Caladenia longicauda subsp. longicauda) which is recorded as growing in woodlands from Lancelin to Mount Barker.

No other new orchids for the day are found however I will post some pics to confirm the location they were found. The donkey orchids though look like the Small flowered donkey orchid (Diuris porrifolia) which is listed as being found around these parts. Thoughts?

Well it’s now after 4pm so we jump back in the Triton and head to Kerry’s farm, where we are staying the night.

Not too bad a day today. Travelled new routes and found many orchids. 14 species in fact, so an awesome day actually.

2019 Road Trip – Margaret River to Bedfordale

Manea Park, Numerous days, Other Reserves, 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 – Sue’s Bridge to Margaret River

Blackwood River NP, Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip

29/08/2019

Waking up to another wonderful morning in the bush, we enjoy breakfast then pack up the campers before going on an exploration to the river bank. Right on our doorstep, or more accurately, the edge of our camping site we find a great patch of Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) which flower July through September from Kalbarri to east of Esperance, with the largest concentration from Perth to Albany.

Over near the toilets close to a fallen log I find some snails orchids. From the crinkled rosette leaves these must be Slender snail orchids (Pterostylis crispula) which are found between Perth and Albany growing in woodlands and forests.

Also discovered on the walk were Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) which have many more stem leaves, thickened lateral sepals and broad petals which have started to turn reddish.

We reached the river bank, west of the actual road bridge, and quickly took some shots before heading back to camp so we could head off towards the coast, leaving the Blackwood River National Park behind. The only other orchid found were some poor specimens of Banded greenhoods (Pterosylis vittata).

Back to the Brockman Hwy we go before turning right towards Karridale. We pull into the sevo at Karridale to fuel up and have a toilet break. From here we cross over the Bussell Hwy onto Bushby road. At the Caves Road intersection we turn right and head north until we find Boranup Drive. Taking this road we head into the Boranup forest (Mud Map SW 26), which is a part of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Our first stop is the Boranup Lookout. From here you could clearly see the coast. I take the short walk to the toilets and it is on the side of this track that I find some Midge orchids. These are brighter in colour however the size of the labellum still leads me to name them Midge rather than Mosquito.

We continue along Boranup Drive until we reach the 4WD track named Love Spring Road. This proved a very picturesque drive however orchids were hard to come by. We actually passed a group of cars which had pulled over for what appeared to be wedding photos. At a low point in the road we pulled over and found some more snail orchids. These little guys have short lateral sepals, a fleshy rosette and multiple stem leaves so I have identified them as Murdoch spider orchids (Pterostylis ectypha), which I have found previously in Yangebup. They flower in a range from Perth and Walpole during the months of August and September.

Further along the track we stop to check out a huge Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissii) and on the opposite side of the track some more Midge orchids are found. Also another Murdoch snail orchid is found.

Love Spring Road runs into Point road, which is just another 4WD track. As we are getting close to Point road Campground, where we plan to stop for lunch, I jump out the Triton to walk a bit. On the side of the track, growing in a mossy mound, I find a nice hood of Murdoch snail orchids. Nothing else found though. Point Road Campground is also located on the Cape to Cape Walk Track. We had planned to stay here the night, however as the weather was deteriorating fast we decided we may get flooded in, so after enjoying a bite to eat we move on to the coast.

Just after 2.30pm we arrive at the coast, very near Cape Freycinet. The wet and windy weather has arrived with a vengeance. In this terrible weather we check out the sights and actually find some snail orchids. A hood was found growing on a boulder right on the verge of Conto Road. The small ones growing right on the rocks of the coast appear to be Coastal short-eared snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘coastal clubbed sepals’) which flower August to October in locations from Perth to Israelite Bay, whilst the ones growing on the boulder appear to be more Murdoch snail orchids.

We have decided we will overnight near Margaret River, so head off on Conto Road, checking out the Conto Campground, where Richard has stayed previously. However we move on as it was very wet with puddles everywhere and we did not wish to set up our campers in this weather. As soon as we got phone signal we googled accommodation options. As a RAC member we finally decided on the RAC Margaret River Nature Park. We booked a 2 bedroom cabin and were so glad we did as the heavens opened up even more overnight.

Was a fun day with an awesome drive through the beautiful Boranup forest and the coast was beautiful even though the weather was terrible. A few orchids found, however I thought we would find more in the South West. Oh well we still have a few days left before we are due in Perth.

2019 Road Trip – Shannon to Sue’s Bridge

Blackwood River NP, Boorara-Gardner NP, Brockman NP, Greater Beedelup NP, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip

28/08/2019

Waking up to another beautiful day we enjoy our breakfast then decide to set up Richards, dual compartment shower/dunny tent and test it out. Nice hot showers enjoyed by us all. Packing up the tent though proved a very interesting task. Deb and Richard have fun packing this up whilst I go for a quick walk around looking for orchids. Nothing found which as disappointing. Leaving Shannon we pull into an Info stop at the intersection of South Western Hwy and Middleton Road. It had a metal panel in rust and stainless steel recognising the Pioneers who drove stock from the farms to the coast. The newly created Warren Blackwood Stock Route passes through here.

Stock Route memorial

Moving on, we travel West along Middleton Road then turn south into Deeside Coast Road and drive down to check out Big Tree Grove. Heading back we stop at Snake Gully Boardwalk. Impressive trees but no orchids.

Moving further South West we call into Boorara Tree, which was a fire lookout tree. The hut has been removed and a replica placed on the ground to provide us, landlubbers, with a look at the inside of a hut without having to climb up a tree. From here we decide to take the walk to Lane Poole Falls which is on the Canterbury River.

The walk to the falls was quite long and unbelievably no orchids to be found. Lots of fungi, a great lookout over a part of the bush destroyed by bushfire in 2015 and of course the falls were good consolation though. It appears the tree and falls are in a disjunct part of the Boorara-Gardner National Park.

After a nice walk we make it back to Boorara Tree to catch our breath, before moving on to Northcliffe. We did not stop though and continued towards Pemberton. As we pass through the Brockman National Park we pull into a parking bay to have a bite of lunch. Whilst eating our lunch we look around the surrounding scrub for any orchids.

Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) are found in numbers with certain specimens being very tall. First one found is around 460mm in height which matches the size mentioned in the Orchid book. However just before leaving I stumble across a patch where one individual plant measured 550mm in height which was then dwarfed by a neighbouring 660mm high plant. It was amazing to find such tall greenhoods.

Onward to Pemberton to get supplies and fuel up. We then return to the Vasse Hwy intersection and head towards Busselton. In the middle of the Greater Beedelup National Park we pull into Beedelup Falls for a look. As usual we also keep an eye out for any orchids. Walking down the path towards the Suspension bridge, just past the toilets I am lucky enough to find some little Cyrtostylis orchids, with one in flower. From the size of the labellum and the dull colouring I will name this orchid the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelii).

Then right on the edge of the path at the first turn of the Z turn, we find two snail orchids. They appear to be Red-sepaled snail orchids (Pterostylis erubescens) although they have yet to darken with age. The thickened sepals and broad petals allude to this identification.

We finally reach the suspension bridge which Deb tackles first. She stops in the middle to take photos, so I slowly venture out so as not to sway it too much. However Richard stirs up our vertigo by causing the bridge to sway heavily, or so it felt. Deb and I high tail it off the bridge, the big chickens we are.

The other side of the Beedelup Brook proves to be a haven for Midge orchids. So many are found growing in the lush, wet sides of the track, with one specimen being over 330mm in height.

Now it is time to head to our overnight location . Heading back to the Vasse Hwy we head north to Stewart Road for a shortcut to the Brockman Hwy, where we head west until we reach Sue’s Rd. A short way north we reach Sue’s Bridge campground in the Blackwood River National Park. On arrival we take a drive around the grounds looking for suitable site. Once found we set up camp and look around for some suitable wood for our fire. As the sun started to set Deb hears a scurrying sound nearby. A friendly Common brushtail possum comes to visit. What a wonderful end to a a wonderful day, exploring the beautiful South West of WA in the quest of orchids.

2019 Road Trip – North Walpole to Shannon

Mount Frankland NP, Mount Frankland South NP, National Parks, Numerous days, Road Trip, Shannon NP

27/08/2019

After a restful night and a hearty breakfast we pack up and leave Centre Road Crossing campsite, but not before checking out the actual river crossing. Deep River is flowing very strongly, so not to many crossings would be occurring at this time of the year.

We now head back along Centre Road until we hit the South Western Highway, where we turn right and head North until we reach Beardmore Road, which we take to Mount Frankland. Mount Frankland is located in the aptly named Mount Frankland National Park and is a 422-metre high granite monadnock.

First up we check out the spectacular Arrival Space Shelter which provides information on Mount Frankland and the Walpole Wilderness. From here we take the short walk to the Mt Frankland Wilderness Lookout. Prior to getting to the lookout though, we find some snail orchids growing alongside the walk trail. These are possibly the Caldyanup snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘robust’) as they have a loose rosette of leaves, 3 stem leaves, blunt hood and thickish lateral sepals. These orchids are only found between Walpole, Manjimup and Augusta flowering September and October.

EDIT: From information received I feel this one is also the newly named species (Diplodium gracillima ).  However this will need to be verified. The genus Diplodium is recognised in the Eastern states however in WA we retain the genus Pterostylis for snail orchids.

Then another snail orchid is found on the granite rock growing in the moss. This one appears to be the Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis crispula) as the rosette appears to have crinkled edged leaves.

Then amazingly we find another snail orchid. This one is tainted a reddish colour and seems to be the Red sepaled snail orchid (Pterostylis erubescens) which can be found on the margins of granite rocks and turn reddish as they age.

We finally moved onto the elevated walkway to the lookout. What an awesome view, however it moved and was very high, so a bit scary.

From here we head off to the Towerman’s Hut and take the track to the summit. On the shady side of a steep sided granite rock, in the green moss, more snail orchids are found. These also appear to be different, which is amazing. These ones appear to be Southwest granite snail orchids (Pterostylis jacksonii) which grow in the moss on granite outcrops between Walpole and Albany during the period July to September.

We now reach the concrete steps, closely followed by the steel ladders and platforms before reaching the granite summit, which was fenced for safety. On the way up we also found another lone snail orchid which I will not attempt to name. The view from up here was outstanding. 360 degrees. All to soon it was time to descend.

Deb finds a great patch of snail orchids on the way back down. We must have missed these on the way up. Back-tracking does pay off on many occasions. Looking from different directions uncovers many a missed orchid. These small snail orchids have distinct clubbed lateral sepals, so must be another species. Finding so many different snail orchids in one location is mind blowing. The Clubbed snail orchid (Pterostylis glebosa) flowers August to November over an area from Eneabba to north of Walpole.

EDIT: After receiving further information this orchid is possible the newly named (Diplodium saxum) which when recognised in WA will be known as (Pterostylis saxa). This orchid is listed as being found on granite outcrops.

Halfway back we leave the summit trail and head out on the Caldyanup Trail which passes Soho Lookout. This lookout consists of a walkway over a mossy granite slope. These moss covered granite slopes are covered in snail orchids. On one patch possibly 2 types of snail orchids were growing side by side. I took a photo with a 50 cent piece between the 2 types to highlight the difference with size. I believe one of them to be more Southwest granite snail orchids whilst the others may be Granite loving snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘southern granites’), mainly due to the small stature of both orchid and rosette. These small guys grow during August and September in locations from Manjimup to Hopetoun.

Wow this place is certainly turning into snail orchid heaven. On the other side of the track a perfect Southwest granite snail orchid is found, closely followed by a nice family of Granite loving snails orchids.

We now start descending down to the base of the granite outcrop as the Caldyanup trail runs around the base of Mt Frankland. It is down here that we finally locate an orchid that is not of the Pterostylis genus. Richard finds the first Mosquito orchid which was a very poor specimen, however I still took photos just in case it was our only one found.

However many more orchids were found in much better condition. Now identification can be made as Midge orchids (Cyrtostylis huegelii) due to the duller thinner labellum. These orchids flower July to September over an area from Kalbarri to east of Esperance.

Oh wow its already 3pm so we move on. This walk was amazing as you saw massive Karri trees growing right up against the granite slopes. The trail finishes back at the Towermans hut. We then walk back to the Tritons and we head off. Next stop will be where Beardmore Road crosses Deep River. Fernhook Falls is located in the Mount Frankland South National Park and is both a day use and camping stop. We plan to camp at Shannon tonight so make a quickish stop here to check out the falls and of course look for orchids.

Walking from the carpark to the falls along the bitumen track, we immediately find orchids. The first was an old Slender snail orchid given the crinkled leafed rosette. Then just past that a Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) was located. A little further along a yet to flower Bird orchid was discovered close to a nice hood of Slender snail orchids, in much better condition.

Still on the track we locate a Banded greenhood that stands 350mm in height. Together with a patch of Red sepaled snail orchids this concludes the finds prior to reaching the falls.

Down at the riverbank, below the falls we find some other snail orchids growing. These 3 appear to be more Diplodium gracillima snail orchids due to the loose rosette and numerous stem leaves.

We walked along the riverbank to a large pool which was covered in foam that swirled into a circular pattern. The falls and pool were quite impressive. A pity the road crosses over at the actual falls as this ruins the overall view.

Whilst walking back to the parked Tritons we discover a good sized hood of Slender snail orchids and another Banded greenhood.

Now time to move onto to our planned overnight stay – Shannon. Located in the aptly named Shannon National Park, the abandoned townsite of Shannon was a spot we camped with our young children and my mum and dad some 25 years ago. We were immediately shocked at the changes made by the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). The townsite had been completely cleared and a new campsite with no shade or wind protection developed around modern ablution blocks. This may have been done as a bushfire prevention. This did not thrill us at all.

We kept driving around following the direction signs and found the area we had camped at many years ago. This area had not been altered as much, so we located a spot large enough for the both of us and set up for the night. The campfire ring was too high with breathing holes that were too small, so we battled to keep it alive but we managed. Another awesome day on the road comes to an end. 8 orchids species found of which 6 were different Snail orchids. Amazing!!!

15hr Sunday Drive

Detours, Road Trip

12/08/2018

Saying our goodbyes to Kirstie and Hamish we set off for a leisurely trip home to Esperance. Usually a 7 to 8 hr drive over 725km, we however take 15hrs, as we make numerous stops to hunt for orchids.¬† Our first destination is Mount Dale in the Helena National Park. The wind is very chilly, however we brave this on our search for some orchid colour. We are not disappointed. First colour spotted is “yellow”. A Donkey orchid is found, but which one?? I’m making the call for the Winter donkey orchid (Diuris brumalis) which flower late June to August in a range from Jurien Bay to Collie. They prefer lateritic or granitic soils and up here in the hills that is the soil types encountered. Other specimens were found throughout our search of this area.¬†

Close to our first donkey the next colour found is “pink”. Little pink fairy orchid¬† (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) is found growing in the shelter of a granite boulder. These little beauties flower July to early October in a range from Northampton to Esperance. Singles, pairs and groupings are found in our extended search. ¬†

Little pink fairy orchid

Often clumping habit

Deb then finds the colour “green”. A small patch of snail orchids hidden in a bush so only one visible for a¬† photo. Could not see the rosette however based on location, pointed hood with brownish tones and medium sized lateral sepals, I¬† will be naming it as Slender snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘crinkled leaf”). These flower late June to September in a large range from Perth down to Albany. Another patch yet to fully flower was found and the rosettes appear to confirm my classification.¬†

Another species of “mixed” colour is found by Deb. Once again hidden or protected near a granite boulder. It appears to be an Autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum parvifolium) which has been fertilised.

Next is a similarly “mixed” coloured orchid, which I found after pushing into the scrub for a few metres. Firstly I found a large patch of leaves and then with a slower look some orchids flowering were discovered. The genus of Cyrtostylis is known, but which species is it? By the smaller , duller flowers they must be the Midge orchid (Cyrtostylis huegelli) which is found from Kalbarri to east of Esperance during July and September.¬†

Well Mount Dale proved a good hunting ground with 5 species flowering, plus Jug and Bird orchids yet to flower found. Already 2.5 hrs (65kms) into our drive home, so we better move on, or we will break our 12 hr record for the drive home. Next stop planned is Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) however we detour into Westdale Road (Mud Map SE5) to see if we can find some of the species listed in the guide. First off we find the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva) which flowers August to October in a range from Geraldton and Israelite Bay.

Deb is off exploring further whilst I slowly finish taking phone and camera pics of the Jug orchid. Only 2 mtrs away I find the Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) and call Deb back to see. On the way back she also finds other specimens less than a metre off her original walk track. They are so hard to see until you find them , then they stick out more easily as we continue searching.

Disbursed around the area are Common donkey orchids (Diuris corymbosa) which flower August to October in a range from Gingin to Bunbury and inland to near Brookton, our actual location funnily enough.

Another new find for the season is the Blue beard (Phelandenia deformis) which flower late May to October in a range from Murchison River to Israelite Bay. Only 3 small flowers found but still it is a new one for this season. 

It is now 4 hrs since we left and we have only covered 90kms of the distance home. Better get a move on. 20kms later we arrive at Williams Road (Mud Map SE6) where we had planned to explore for at least an hour as Deb had quickly checked this out on Tuesday when she drove to Perth, when she found at least 4 species flowering. First up we locate some more Common donkey orchids before Deb calls me over to a patch of at least 3 species in close proximity.

First up are Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata) and Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’).

 Then as previously found in this location, there are Shell orchids everywhere. Many are finished as they flower from May to August. Mud Map records both Red and Brown veined shell orchids here in July so we have missed the peak flowering period it seems. From the flowering plants I believe them to be Red-veined shell orchids (Pterostylis hamiltonii) as they are darker coloured and most have the labellum protruding from the hood formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. These flower in a range from Toodyay to the Stirling Range in woodlands and Rock Sheoak thickets. 

Also located close-by are some Little pink fairy orchids. So 4 species all within a 3 square metres area. Great find Deb. 

Other species found during our search were Dark banded greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea) and Jug orchid. Also found was a meeting of Banded greenhood and Shells plus a Banded greenhood with a huge inflorescence. 

It’s now after 1.15pm and we have only travelled 110km of the 725km trip. Back to the Triton and a huge patch of spent shells is found plus the very first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) for the season. These flower from north of Geraldton to Israelite Bay during July to December.¬†

Onwards to Brookton where we grabbed a Parmi Wrap for lunch. (Parma for Farmer Рraising funds for drought relief in NSW/QLD). Eating whilst driving to catch up some time our next planned stop is the Corrigin Wildflower Trail which goes around the airport  and is part of the Corrigin Nature Reserve. Taking the road in from the Dog Cemetery our first find are some more Little pink fairies  

Little pink fairy

Nothing else found so onwards we go at a slow pace, then I jump out to walk and find some Frog greenhoods (Pterostylis sargentii) which flower between July and October in a range from Northampton to Grasspatch.  They are very small and growing underneath bushes, making photo taking a lay down on the job task. Further Frog greenhoods are found along the trail.

Further along the track whilst walking I spy some nice snail orchids. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata). Another grouping was found further along by Deb whilst driving slowly along. 

A sole Jug orchid was also found just yawning like a Pelican  and further along what appears to be Pterostylis arbuscular which is a Mallee form of banded greenhood. No common name yet.

Finally a donkey orchid was found. Based on location alone this must be the Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa) which flowers July to September between York, Tenterden and Ravensthorpe. Corrigin is slightly east of the line York to Ravensthorpe. 

Nearly 4pm, or 8hrs into our trip home and we have only completed 220km of the 725km required. Best move on to our next planned stop, Macrocarpa Trail near Kulin. Just before 5pm Deb finds our first orchid of this trail. Appears to be Hairy-stemmed snail orchids. 

Also found further Frog greenhoods, Robust snail orchids, Dark banded greenhoods and another possible Pterostlyis arbuscular.

Then as the light is fading fast we venture into the bush and finally there they are.. Spider orchids in flower. We now rush to get as many photos as possible .. They are so small and with the fading light our photos are not the best but we need to record the find. From the location and size I believe we found the Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) and the Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which both flower during August. The former July to October and the latter August to early October. The Common spider orchid ranges from Kalbarri to Esperance whilst the Pendant spider orchid ranges from Wongan Hills and Walpole. The Length of the petals and lateral sepals are a distinguishing feature. 

The sun finally sets on our orchid hunting so we make tracks via Lake Grace for Steak Burger / Fish n chips dinner. Then after 15hrs we arrive home at 11pm. Long day however very happy at finding 20 species of orchid.