2018 Road Trip – Holland Track and Beyond – Day 1

24/08/2018

After a morning at work, my 1/2 RDO arrives, so I race home to catch a bite to eat with Tim before we make our final pack of the Triton and camper. Off to Puma for diesel, then back home as we forgot the porta loo. Finally on the road by 2.30pm with our first planned stop being Overshot Hill rest area north of Ravensthorpe. However Debbie has other ideas. At 4.30pm she pulls over to our spot on Mills Road, just past Munglinup. I jump out of the Triton and immediately spy a small clump of spider orchids. They appear to be the Cream spider orchid (Caladenia horistes), which flower August to early October in a range from Fitzgerald River National Park to Balladonia.

Close by are our first South coast donkey orchids (Diuris sp. ‘south coast’) of the season. These are found between Denmark and Munglinup during the period, late June to August.

Also found were some Western tiny blue orchids (Cyanicula aperta), which flower August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung to Mt Ragged. 

A few metres away Debbie finds some Hairy-stemmed snail orchids (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and other spider orchids.

We then nearly step on some Zebra orchids (Caladenia cairnsiana) which flower August to early November in a range from Esperance to Lancelin. These were intermixed with more spider orchids. 

Nearly 5pm so we make our way to our planned overnight stay at Overshot Hill rest area in the Nature Reserve of the same name. Unsure if the other spider orchids are also Cream spider orchids or other species from the Wispy complex. Feel free to comment as to the species name for the images below. 

Helm’s Arboretum in August

19/08/2018

We are busy organising ourselves for our 2 week road trip, so given this is our final weekend, we take a few hours break and head out to Helm’s Arboretum (Mud Map SE35) to see what is flowering now. We make our way to the plot we usually find many snail orchids, however the first orchid found is the small Western Tiny Blue Orchid (Cyanicula aperta). These little beauties are found August to early October in a range from Dumbleyung and Mt Ragged.

Then we stumble across the snail orchids we had come to see. Still unable to name this species due to it not matching up with any of my reference books on location and or description.  Variation in rosettes may infer they are actually 2 species. 

Next I find the usual Esperance king spider orchids (Caladenia decora) in flower.

Whilst I take photos of the spider orchids Deb gets chatting to a fellow orchid enthusiast who shares with us her location of some Southern curly locks (Thelymitra uliginosa) within Helm’s Arboretum. We make our way to the said location and after around 15 mins of searching we find these small orchids flowering in the beautiful sunshine. The flowers themselves are only a 10c piece in size. These flower August and September in a range from Northcliffe and Mt Manypeaks with disjunct populations in Esperance and Perth.

So happy to have found some Southern curly-locks as the one and only previously found plant we could not be located this year.

15hr Sunday Drive

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 – raising 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.

Road Trip – Day 19 – Tutanning Nature Reserve to Harrismith

19/9/2017

After breakfast we go for a more leisurely search around our campsite for any orchids we may have missed in our late search yesterday. Ant orchid (Caladenia roei), Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata), Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) were again located as was one Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) with a dangling labellum. Also found was a yet to open Thelymitra species.

We then hurried back to camp, packed up a headed back along the track we drove down late yesterday afternoon. First up were some Donkey orchids, which due to the location they must be Western wheatbelt donkey orchids (Diuris brachyscapa).

Further along we find more Cowslip orchids plus better specimens of the Fringed mantis orchid.

And finally after a very long spell we finally find another Pterostylis specimen, the Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva).

Our final stop along the bush track was at a small granite outcrop, where we found some Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera)  and some yet to flower Elbow orchids (Spiculaea ciliata)

We leave Tutanning N. R. and head on down to Wickepin, where we have a yummy lunch, before heading over to visit Toolibin Lake N. R.. On the track in we spy many Fringe mantis orchids, some with two flowers per stem.

We decided to take a walk alongside the track to see what other orchids may be around. We came across Cowslip orchids, Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) and Pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia).

We then drove to the parking area and attempted the lake walk, however it was closed due to flooding from recent heavy rain, which had washed away some of the infrastructure. I decided to walk back along the track and Deb drove the Triton, which proved fortuitous as I found some Ant orchids and Deb found some spider orchids.

Drooping spider orchid (Caladenia radialis) is the obvious specie as it has a smooth margined labellum with distinctive striping.

Final find before hitting the Wickepin-Harrismith Rd is a great Pink fairy twin.

As soon as we got on the Wickepin-Harrismith Road we took a track near Dulbining Lake,  that seemed to run adjacent to the road and drove along in 1st gear with our heads hanging out the window looking. Some spider orchids are seen on the left hand side of the track, so we alight from the Triton to check them out. They appear to be Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata).

Moving slowly along this track we find many other orchids, starting with Cowslip orchids, Fringed mantis orchid and Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea).

 

Then we find what we initially thought were more Ant orchids. However on closer inspection we have found Purple-veined spider orchid (Caladenia doutchiae) which flowers August to October between Mullewa and Ravensthorpe. In the middle of all these is a lone Ant orchid.

Final orchids found before getting back on the sealed road were what appeared at first to be Common spider orchids. However the flowers had much broader labellum’s and if they were fully unfurled, long petals and sepals. I am going to name these Pendant spider orchid (Caladenia pendens subsp. pendens) which flower August to early October in a range from Wongan Hills to Walpole.

Travelling west we arrive at Harrismith and as the weather was looking like rain we decide to book a room rather than risk getting our canvas camper wet. Rather than a room we take the donger which has its own shower and toilet. Was really cheap and rough but was sufficient for 1 night. After unpacking into the bedroom we decide to take a drive around the self drive wildflower tour. Our first orchids were more Fringed  mantis orchids. (Mud Map SE 10)

Also found were Western wheatbelt donkey orchids, Sugar orchid and Jug orchids.

Back just before sunset, so we have a shower and get changed into fresh clothes, then make our way over to the Oasis Hotel for a meal, game of pool and a few drinks to celebrate finding 15 different orchids.

Road Trip – Day 18 – Walyormouring to Tutanning Nature Reserve

18/09/2017

After breaking camp we head through Goomalling to our first planned stop, Cunderdin Hill lookout. Lots of broken glass and pink everlastings with blue cornflowers thrown in, were the only finds. We made our way down to town centre and visited the famous Ettamogah Pub for lunch.

 After lunch we head off towards Quairading, however we notice a sign for Toapin Weir (Featured Image) so decide to check it out. What an amazing hidden gem this is. Great granite outcrop to explore, flushing toilets, fresh water supply, gas BBQ and picnic tables. We would have stayed here the night had it not been so early in the day.

Now off to explore for orchids with our first find being some spent Prasophyllum gracile complex orchids closely followed by some donkey orchids. Location would suggest them to be Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris brachyscapa). 

Next up we start finding Sun orchids that have yet to open which is frustrating given our long wait in Charles Darwin Reserve. However we finally stumble across some that have opened. The Granite sun orchid (Thelymitra petrophila) which blooms August to November from Mullewa to South Australia was a sight for strained eyes.

 Much better specimens of the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) including single plants to small clumps of plants were found on the walk back to the Triton.

Now we head off for our over night stay location which we have not decided upon just yet.. How unusual for us.. NOT. We bypassed Quairading instead driving through Dangin and south past Lake Mears to Tutanning Nature Reserve, located in the Dutarning Range. Totally unaware if any suitable camping site would be found we headed West into the reserve and on the drive in we spied some Cowslip orchids (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). However as light was fading fast, given it was after 5pm, we didn’t stop to take photos as we wanted to find our overnight stop first.  By chance we came across a wonderful cleared site, which must have been some sort of farm or townsite, now abandoned. We quickly set up camp then went exploring. First up we both came across more Cowslips.

Next orchid found by Deb was a Blue china orchid (Cyanicula gemmata), which flower August to early November in a range that stretches from Kalbarri to Israelite Bay.  My next orchid on the other hand was an Ant orchid (Caladenia roei). We then quickly moved to each others location to grab some photos.

Also found were Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata) . Light is fading fast so we make our way back to camp when we stumble across another Blue china orchid.

Seven species found for the day

Road Trip – Day 2 – Wagin to Kwolyin

02/9/2017

After a quick breakfast and a long hot shower we make up the thermos and head off to fuel up, then make tracks for the North Wagin Nature Reserve, our first planned stop of the day. Just off the road, on the track chosen to push into the reserve, I spy a group of Jug orchids (Pterostylis recurva) which we will check out on the way back. We park the Triton and camper near a dam and head out on foot to check out this new location. First find is the Banded greenhood (Pterostylis vittata), quickly followed by Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’).

Many donkey orchids were found and mixed in with these we found some Little pink fairy orchids (Caladenia reptans subsp. reptans) distinguished by their leaf having a red coloured underside. Another common orchid found here was the Fringed mantis orchid (Caladenia falcata) which competed with the donkey orchid to be the most common orchid in this location. As planned we took pictures of the Jug orchids as we made tracks for our next location.

Piesseville was our next location and we finally found flowering orchids, after other visits turned up leaves and buds only. As with the Wagin location the Fringed mantis orchid was very common, as were the Sugar orchids (Ericksonella saccharata), however the later were restricted to a few metres in from the road. Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava) was also plentiful, but further into the bush.

The first spider orchid found is a Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia dimidia) and nearby a reddish version of the same flower.A very different spider orchid is then found. The Dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea). Unlike previous specimens found this season near Esperance,this one finally looks like the ones in the books.

In the northerly section of the location we find some Western wheatbelt donkey orchids and in the swampy section I find some Blue beards (Pheladenia deformis) of varying shades. I track down Deb who has crossed to the other side of the road and took her back to where the Blue beards were located.

On the way back to the Blue beards more spider orchids were found. Chameleon spider orchid, Crimson spider orchid (Caladenia footeana)  which flowers July to early October between Cranbrook and Binnu and Chapmans spider orchid (Caladenia chapmanii) which flowers September to mid-October between Boyup Brook, Kojonup and Northam, all within a few metres of each other.

Then an OMG moment, when Deb spies an all red spider orchid. Appears to be Blood spider orchid (Caladenia filifera) NEW FIND!!!! These are found between Tenterden and Wongan Hills and flower August to early October. Not 100% certain as it was not clumping, but single flowers. Edit: After locating Blood spider orchids at Forsyth Woodland this one appears to be a red variant of another species.

Other orchids found at this location were Jug orchids and Banded greenhoods.

We moved on and called into Narrogin to buy some supplies and an extra gas cartridge for the shower unit. We then drove north-east and stopped off at North Yilliminning Nature Reserve for lunch and checked out this new location. Not far into our search and we were bombarded with yellow from so many Cowslip orchids. Various shapes, patterns and sizes with some having very long lateral sepals.

Next orchid found was the small Sugar orchid followed closely with some Donkey orchids. Most likely, Western wheatbelt donkey orchids. Also found were some Banded greenhoods

A very unusual colour catches Deb’s eye as she has found a Hybrid orchid. A Spectacular spider orchid (Caladenia x spectabilis) which is a hybrid formed by a Cowslip and Pink fairy cross pollinating. Further colour variations were found. However to muddy the waters, the Little pink fairy orchid is found which may be a parent of the hybrids, in which case the orchid is unnamed and referred to as (Caladenia flava x C. reptans). For now I will leave the judgement open.

Edit: 29/10/2017 – From further investigations it appears all Hybrids found were Spectacular spider orchids due to the longer lateral sepals. Blooms August to October and found from Kalbarri to Esperance

Final orchids found were a sole Hairy stemmed snail orchid (Pterostylis sp. ‘inland’) and some further Jug orchids.

Quick toilet stop in Wickepin, which was a very neat little town with a museum for Albert Facey, who is famous for his autobiography “A Fortunate Life”. We make one final stop, before catching up with Richard, at Malyalling Nature Reserve. Along the road that dissects the N.R. I spot some Ant orchids (Caladenia roei) which flower August to October between Eurardy Station and Ravensthorpe, and when taking photos also noticed Fringed mantis orchids nearby.

Some Donkey orchids were also found and at the Eastern boundary of the N.R. we found a patch of  Fringed mantis orchids. Too many to count.

We made our way back to the low granite outcrop and Deb immediately finds some purple variants of the Little laughing leek orchid (Prasophyllum gracile) which is quite rare according to my orchid book, so a great find Deb!! Also found on this rock were Lemon-scented sun orchids (Thelymitra antennifera) which flower from July to October between Shark Bay and Israelite Bay and very small donkey orchids.

After finding 18 orchid varieties it is now time to head off for Kwolyin campground, where Richard is waiting for us. … Trio travelling begins.

Kwolyin campground
Triton and camper . Richard with Red Triton and tent.

Road Trip 2017 – Delay

31/8/2017

We had planned to leave tonight and camp up at Mt Madden, however as I drove the Triton home from work the ENGINE light remained on, then as the sun set we noticed the headlights were not working. Called Dave our mechanic, who came around and after 2hrs he had replaced our globes, ballasts and exchange. So now we have lights and the ENGINE light is no longer on. We slowly pack the Triton and camper trailer and then go to bed with plans to leave early in the morning.

1/9/2017

Woke up around 5am, showered, last minute packing and then off to Puma to fill up the Triton. Around 6am we are finally on our way. First stop is the Ravensthorpe lookout which was the very first place ever that we found Jug orchids. Guess what is the first orchid found is ? …. Jug orchid (Pterostylis recurva), what a great coincidence. As towing our camper at slow speed up a gravel hill is proving a challenge, we drive to the top and slowly make our way down. 2nd orchid found is Western tiny blue orchid (Cyanicula aperta). A few scattered plants only, then a great group is found by Deb at the side of the road.

Nothing further found, other than more Jugs and Tiny Blues, so we make our way back to the track on level ground and closer to the Hwy we find some more Pterostylis orchids. We have now added another location for the Midget greenhood (Pterostylis mutica). Also found were some good old Banded greenhoods (Pterostylis vittata). Next stop is Ravensthorpe for a toilet break.

Lake King Nature Reserve on the Old Newdegate Rd is checked out with only Western tiny blue orchids found. Further along the road at the Dunn Rock Nature Reserve we find a spent Frog greenhood (Pterostylis sargentii) and a yet to flower Red beak (Pyrorchis nigricans).

North of Newdegate we pull into a gravel pit for lunch, which is in the Rockview Nature Reserve. Here we find another Jug orchid. Our planned destination of Dragon Rocks Nature Reserve is reached just after 1pm and our first find is the little Sugar orchid (Ericksonella saccharata). Further down the track our first glimpse of yellow delivers us our first Cowslip orchid (Caladenia flava subsp. flava). Eye catching as usual.

 

We venture deeper into the bush and another colour appears. Pink. The first of many Pink candy orchids (Caladenia hirta subsp. rosea) is found and nearby is the first spider orchid of the day. These pretty orchids are found from Kalbarrie to Israelite Bay and flower late June to September. Common spider orchid (Caladenia vulgata) would appear to be the species found. Another yellow orchid is found. Western wheatbelt donkey orchid (Diuris sp. ‘western wheatbelt’) seems to be the one due to location.

 

 

Another spider orchid is found with much darker red tips to petals and sepals plus a larger labellum as well. Location and these colourings lead me to name it Ballerina spider orchid (Caladenia melanema). Found in the Pingaring – Lake Grace area (30kms away),  flowering August to mid September. We make it to Dragon Rocks themselves and growing on the granite are some Little laughing leek orchids (Prasophyllum gracile). Other spider, donkey, candy and sugar orchids are found, but as it is nearly 3pm we make tracks back to Newdegate to travel westwards.

Quick stop made at South Buniche Nature Reserve where we find some Dark banded greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea) and more Jug and Sugar orchids. Then onto Lake Grace lookout, a favourite location of ours, that has yet again produced results. First up is the Chameleon spider orchid (Caladenia  dimidia). Also found nearby was another Common spider orchid.

Then a Sugar orchid is found under the scrub. Another spider orchid is found, this time a Western wispy spider orchid (Caladenia microchila) and a donkey orchid – possible a further Western wheatbelt donkey orchid. Jug orchids also found however as it is now getting dark and we plan to stay overnight in Wagin, we make tracks.

Overnight in Wagin at the local motel, very pricey for such a basic room, but as we ran out of daylight and with possible rain overnight, it seemed the easier option. Pizza enjoyed for dinner and time for sleep after a long first day. 16 orchids ticked off the list.