10/9/2021 ….. Stirling Range National Park to Chirelillup Nature Reserve

Camel Lake NR, Chirelillup NR, National Parks, Nature Reserves, Numerous days, Road Trip, Stirling Range NP, Western Australian Orchids

Well after enjoying our 2nd night at the Stirling Range Retreat, we pack up and head out on our exploration of the Stirling Range National Park. We plan on taking the Stirling Range Drive to Red Gum Pass Road, then north to Salt River Road. Then heading east to Formby Road South where we will head north to Gnowangerup. Obviously we plan on making numerous stops to explore for orchids and to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

First up we head into Bluff Knoll Road to check out the orchids in one further location. Maybe we will find something different without the threat of rain hanging over our heads. Not surprisingly, the orchids found were the same as the ones found yesterday, but photos were taken again of course.

Nearly 10am, so we make tracks toward our next location. On Stirling Range Drive, we make a split second decision to pull over on the side of the road. We manage to find a few orchids on the side of the road.

We jump back in the Triton and move a few hundred metres down the road before stopping at a spot that had seen a bushfire some time in the last year. Let us see if this has triggered orchids to grow for us to find.

Now it nearly 11am so onwards we travel, with our next stop being Talyuberlup Picnic Area. First up we check the picnic area side of the road then we head up the Talyuberlup Peak trail a wee bit, before scrambling back to the triton. As we had hoped, orchids are found.

Time to consider lunch, so we move onwards to White Gum Flat picnic area. We have a bite to eat and then go exploring the nearby area. We don’t venture to far before we find orchids. This time round we actually cross the road and find further orchids including new ones for the day. Turns out the King spider orchid is a new species for us, so that was an exciting find.

Still more of this National Park to check out so onwards we go. At the intersection of Red Gum Pass Road we turn left and check out some locations along the roadside. We found a few orchids including some new ones for the day.

We now head north along Red Gum Pass Road and make a quick stop into the picnic area, where we find a few orchids but move further north to another road side location where orchids are located as well.

We eventually reach Salt River Road and turn right. However we soon pull over at Salt Lake Nature Reserve for an explore, but after a quick check not much is located so we move on to Camel Lake Nature Reserve, with a road side stop along the way. At this final stop we are lucky to find some new orchid species for the day as well as previously found ones. Photos of all those found at the locations along the way were taken to record their discovery near the northern boundary of the National Park.

Wowsers, they were amazing first time locations for orchids. 13 possible species and 1 hybrid found, however we must move on as it’s past 4.30pm and we still have nearly 50kms to our planned destination. We arrive at Chirelillup Nature Reserve, set up camp and whilst Deb lights the campfire I have a very quick scout around in the waning sunlight.

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.

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. 🙂

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.

31/08/2021 ….. South Murchison to Canna

Numerous days, Road Trip, Western Australian Orchids

Well after 17 days without seeing any orchids, today should be the day we find some as we are now inland as far south as Kalbarri. Together with Richard, we have been following “The  Wool Wagon Pathway” since leaving the others at the North West Coastal Hwy near Barradale. As usual we are travelling the pathway in reverse. Our first stop today is at Marker 3 – Yuin Station, which was apparently one of the first in the district. Nothing to see now, not even ruins. Prior to reaching Marker 2 we pull over at a creek crossing as the extra moisture in the surrounding scrub may now include orchids.

As is usual Deb finds the first orchid. The little Dainty blue orchid (Cyanicula amplexans) is an excellent find to start us off on our obsession. These orchids are found inland from north of Kalbarri to Norseman, flowering from August to early October. 

Whilst I cross the road to get a photo of the Dainty blue orchid Deb also discovers a Hairy-stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis setulosa), which is found over a larger inland range than the Dainty blue orchid.

We move onto Marker 2 which is “The Crossroads at Bumbinyoo Flats”. This was as the name suggests an intersection in the roads/pathways at which an inn and store was constructed close to a nearby spring. It only lasted a few years as it was abandoned once the Yalgoo railway line opened up. Again, there was nothing left to see.

Further south we ran into a tourist Mecca. The Wreath flowers (Lechenaultia macrantha) north of Pindar attract so many people that the shire has constructed a branch in the main road, to keep all the traffic off the road itself. Even though they are not an orchid, we had to get some photos and I have posted a couple as they are so beautiful and unique.

Moving on we arrive at Pindar, which is the starting point of the Wool Wagon Pathway, however for us it is the end. We had planned lunch here, but their is nothing now in the town, other than interpretive signage and one beautiful stone building. So onwards we go, west to Mullewa where we enjoyed an amazing meal at Inspirations Mullewa.

Overnight at Canna decided upon, so off we go, heading south. We are lucky enough to find room at the Canna hall/church site, which has hot water showers available. After setting up camp we go exploring the walk trails. Oh it so nice to be back in Orchid territory. First up we find some more Dainty blue orchids flowering singerly or in small clumps.

Not a huge number of orchids found however there are some donkey orchids flowering as well. From the prominently reflexed lateral sepals I believe them to be the Dainty donkey orchid (Diuris fefracta) which flowers during July to September over an inland range from Bindoon to Northampton.

Near the granite rock outcrop at the end of the major walk trail we also come across the Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) which flowers from July to October over a large range from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay.

Hiding underneath a shrub we were lucky enough to find a hybrid orchid flowering, but not lucky enough for it to be open. The parents would be the Lemon-scented sun orchid and a Blue sun orchid, which produce a beautiful pink coloured sun orchid.

Next up we find the small Little laughing leek orchids ( Prasophyllum gracile) in flower. These are another widespread orchid which flower from July to October.

Then we finally find the ever popular Cowslip orchid, however these ones appear to be the subspecies called the Kalbarri cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. maculata), which is found in the northern parts of the listed cowslip orchid range. The usual distinguishing feature is the markings are usually spots, however the number of marginal teeth on the labellum, verify the ID. The Kalbarri cowslip has 4 to 8 teeth, whilst the other 3 subspecies have only 2 or 3 teeth.

Amazingly we only find one spider orchid in flower. A distinguishing feature that helped name this orchid was the broad, squat, glossy-white calli. The Glistening spider orchid (Caladenia insensum) flowers from June to September over a range between Hyden and Nerren Nerren Station, growing on granite outcrops and nearby drainage lines.

Time to head back to camp, have a hot shower, cook dinner then grab some ZZZZ’s. Seven orchid species found, plus one hybrid, so it has been a good first day back in orchid territory.

04/07/2021 ….. North-eastern adventure

Burdett South NR, Day Trip, Esperance, Helms Arboretum, Mount Burdett NR, Nature Reserves, Western Australian Orchids

On a cold winters day, what better to do than go exploring for orchids!! We must be mad. With grey clouds and the possibility of rain, we head north to check out the northern boundary of Helms Arboretum (Mud Map SE 35). We wish to see how far the Southern Curly Locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) have progressed. We locate some of the spiral leaves but not in the same numbers as previous years, which is disappointing considering the great start to the season, weather wise. Another orchid found was a spent Scented autumn leek orchid (Prasophyllum Sp. ‘early’) which flower April to June, hence this orchid being finished for the season.

Nothing else found so we move eastwards to Dempster Road via Gibson Road then turn into Wittenoom Road. Rather than check out the blue metal dump which is one of our regular haunts we move further north and check out the old gravel pit near Scaddan Road. First up growing in the pushed back road verge we find some banded greenhoods. As they vary in colour they may be different species. Other specimens are found further afield so I am confident the larger greenish ones are the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata) whilst the smaller brownish ones are the Mallee banded greenhood (Pterostylis arbuscula). Both flower during July and are shown as appearing in the Esperance region.

Then a wonderful patch of snail orchids being watched by a large fungi is found. From the rosettes and colouring of the snail orchids I believe they are Brittle snail orchids (Pterostylis timothyi). These small guys flower from July to September over an easterly distribution including Esperance.

We now move on further north and venture up a track that leads into Mount Burdett Nature Reserve. Further Brittle snail orchids are found or are they the similar Fawn snail orchids (Pterostylis parva) which are of smaller stature with shorter lateral sepals but fatter appearance.

Whilst we are taking photos of the snail orchids another 5 cars drive past on the track, so we decide to turn around and head to Mt Burdett (Mud Map SE36) for a detailed search. We reach our parking spot at the base of the granite rock an immediately find some greenhoods. From the height of the plants and the number of dark coloured flowers I believe they are Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) which flower June to September over a large range from Mullewa to Toolinna Cove.

Nearby found a lone Banded greenhood and then looking around some large snail orchids come into view. They are the Robust snail orchid (Pterostylis dilatata) which are distinctive, in that when flowering they lack a rosette.

I think the next snail orchid found is definitely a Fawn snail orchid as it is short statured , has bloated flowers and the rosettes have blue-green pointed leaves. The snail orchids are sharing the bright green moss with another small orchid as well. The Pink bunny orchid (Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber) flowers early July, so these are on time as they are just starting to open. These little orchids are unique in that their flowering and non-flowering leaves differ in appearance.

Moving further up the rocky mount, we come across a patch of Mallee banded greenhoods which are similar to the Dark banded greenhoods but have less flowers and are shorter in stature.

We finally make it up to the summit, so to speak. We are excited to find a nice patch of shell orchids in flower. The Green-veined shell orchid (Pterostylis scabra) are a common inland shell orchid flowering over a huge range, Kalbarri to Esperance, during the months of May to August. They grow in varied habitats of woodlands and shrublands to shallow soil pockets on granite outcrops. The later describes our location.

Moving down the mount back to the Triton we come across more Fawn snail orchids. Nothing more so we move on in a south easterly direction this time.

So driving down Greens Road we notice a track leading into the Burdett South Nature Reserve. Quick check of Google Maps and we decide to check it out. It is quite overgrown so we end up walking mostly. Lucky find of a recognisable Hare orchid (Leporella fimbriata) as they finish their season in June.

We come to a salt lake that provides a great backdrop for our obligatory “Selfie”, however the only other orchids found in flower where the good old Banded greenhood, plus a snail orchid with its hood eaten off. Rosette of stalked pointed leaves, leads me to name it the Brittle snail orchid.

Well it’s now 3.45pm so we decide to walk back to the Triton for the drive home. It was a very cold day however we found some great orchids and enjoyed the fresh air.

28/08/2020 ….. Nunijup Lake to Gnowangerup (Road Trip 2020)

National Parks, Road Trip, Stirling Range NP, Western Australian Orchids

We awake to a cool morning, so I take Deb around exploring the area whilst the camper dries out. We discover other orchids as well as the ones I found yesterday afternoon, so the wander around was worth the effort.

Nunijup Lake

Tangled white spider orchid

(Caladenia longicauda subsp. redacta)

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Tenterden yellow spider orchid

(Caladenia straminichila)

Common spider orchid

(Caladenia varians)

Banded greenhood

(Pterostylis vittata)

Little pink fairies

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Leaping spider orchid

(Caladenia macrostylis)

Well our next planned location is the amazing Stirling Range National Park, which is quite a distance, so we pack up the camper. We spy more orchids as we slowly leave our campsite, so grab some photos. Finally on the road, with high expectations for the day.

Stirling Range National Park

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Dancing spider orchid

(Caladenia discoidea)

Hare orchid

(Leporella fimbriata)

Western wheatbelt donkey orchid

(Diuris brachyscapa)

Pink bunny orchid

(Eriochilus scaber subsp. scaber)

Little pink fairies

(Caladenia reptans subsp, reptans)

Silky blue orchid

(Cyanicula sericea)

Sugar orchid

(Ericksonella saccharata)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Blood spider orchid

(Caladenia filifera)

Joseph’s spider orchid

(Caladenia polychroma)

Blue beard

(Pheladenia deformis)

Lemon-scented sun orchid

(Thelymitra antennifera)

Banded greenhood

(Pterostylis vittata)

Rabbit orchid

(Leptoceras menziesii)

Red beaks

(Pyrorchis nigricans)

Common bee orchid

(Diuris decrementa)

??? spider orchid

(Caladenia sp.)

Zebra orchid

(Caladenia cairnsiana)

Ravensthorpe snail orchid

(Pterostylis sp. ‘Ravensthorpe’)

Mosquito orchid

(Cyrtostylis robusta)

Frog greenhood

(Pterostylis sargentii)

Yawning leek orchid

(Prasophyllum hians)

Well we were not disappointed. At least 22 orchid species found which blows our minds. The bush fire caused devastation, however the regrowth of the Australian bush is amazing. It’s now 4pm so we had better move on and find our overnight camp.

Kingia in flower following the bush fire

We struggled to find a camping location so made the decision to book into one of the Gnowangerup Hotel units for the night. We enjoyed a wonderful bar meal and bevy.

23/08/2020 ….. Highbury State Forest to Meelon (Road Trip 2020)

Highbury SF, Road Trip, State Forest, Western Australian Orchids

We wake up to another beautiful morning in the forest. After breakfast we pack up the camper and head back along the track. Before leaving the state forest though we have one more exploration.

Highbury State Forest

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Dark banded greenhood

(Pterostylis sanguinea)

Primrose spider orchid

(Caladenia xantha)

Little pink fairies

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Lemon-scented sun orchid

(Thelymitra antennifera)

Pterostylis sp.

Mosquito orchid

(Cyrtostylis robusta)

Dancing spider orchid

(Caladenia discoidea)

Blue beard

(Pheladenia deformis)

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Sugar orchid

(Ericksonella saccharata)

In my little black book I recorded finding 2 wispy complex spider orchids and 2 greenhoods, however whilst making this post I am now unsure so I only posted one of each. Please let me know your thoughts on if there is 1 or 2 types.

Ok so now we move onward to our next location. Piesseville is one of our favourite locations as we regularly find numerous species of orchids. Let us hope this visit proves successful.

Piesseville-Tarwonga Road

Blue beard

(Pheladenia defromis)

Cowslip orchid

(Caladenia flava subsp. flava)

Joseph’s spider orchid

(Caladenia polychroma)

Small flowered donkey orchid

(Diuris porrifolia)

Green spider orchid

(Caladenia falcata)

Chapman’s spider orchid

(Caladenia chapmanii)

Sugar orchid

(Ericksonella saccharata)

?? banded greenhood

(Pterostylis sp.)

Banded greenhood

(Pterostylis vittata)

Well as usual the Piesseville location did not disappoint, however we must move on. We head back to the Albany Highway and head north to Williams, where we turn west towards Quindanning. Our next stop is in a patch of bush along the Pinjarra – Williams Road where we have found orchids on previous visits.

Pinjarra-Williams Road

Silky blue orchid

(Cyanicula sericea)

Dark banded greenhood

(Pterostylis sanguinea)

??? donkey orchid

(Diuris sp.)

Banded greenhood

(Pterostylis vittata)

Leaping spider orchid

(Caladenia macrostylis)

Little pink fairies

(Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans)

Jug orchid

(Pterostylis recurva)

Slender snail orchid

(Pterostylis crispula)

Common spider orchid

(Caladenia varians)

It is nearly 3.30 in the afternoon so we had better move on, so that we will arrive at our overnight destination before sunset. We head north to Marradong then westwards to Dwellingup. No time to stop in either location as we move on to Meelon, where we will stay at the property of Megan, our niece. This will be our home for a few nights as we take the time to catch-up with relatives.

Sunset over the dam at Meelon – Megan’s place