Category Archives: Flora

Carrah Wildflower Walk

Recently we visited Carrah Farms, about 2 hours north of Perth city in the Calingiri area. Marvellous to get out of town with a group of friends, smell the fresh air and enjoy the peace and quiet!Cal 1 Cal 2

Sarah first took us on a guided walk through their Wandoo and Marri woodlands which have been fenced off to preserve the wildflowers.

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Even at this early stage of the wildflower season there were many beautiful flowers to discover. Lots of oohs and aahs, and of course much happy snapping.

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There is plenty of evidence of native wildlife including echidnas and bandicoots (quenda), and many seedlings of native trees and shrubs have been planted to reduce soil erosion.

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The majority of the farm is leased for cropping, but they picked a beautiful spot for their home with views to die for. They built their own home with help from many Wwoofers and Helpxers. It is a huge straw bale house also using local recycled timber.

 

The main living area pictured is about 4 metres wide and probably 20 metres long. This is where the ‘High Teas’ are held.

Sarah cooked and served a delicious afternoon tea, putting to use some of the beautiful silverware, linen and china that she has inherited.

Sarah’s goal in starting her wildflower walks was to combine all the things she loves doing most; spending time in the woodlands, taking photos, cooking, talking and drinking tea.  We think she has a winning formula!

Check out their website or Facebook page to book or for more information. Please note that a minimum of 8 per group is required.

Julimar Conservation Park 4WD jaunt

We are members of the 4WD Club of Western Australia and have been on many great trips with them. This one was a ‘Julimar Jaunt’ through the Julimar Conservation Park to have a look at the wildflowers there.

We met at the amazing Bindoon Bakehaus (great coffee, pies and cakes!) and then headed south for a bit before turning left onto Flat Rocks Road, where we proceeded to the Western Boundary Road. There we aired down our tyres before getting into the park in earnest. We meandered through most of the tracks on the map and a lot that don’t crack a mention.

A Julimar map

Lots of wildlife in evidence – ‘roos and emus, some with chicks. And of course wildflowers…

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The park is mainly laterite gravel and that determines what grows there. Some species of trees and plants are pretty well confined to this type of terrain. It sometimes beggars belief what will grow on some of the poor soils here in W.A.

There are huge areas of ‘grass trees’ or Zanthorrea and the contrast between those trees that have been subject to a controlled burn and the untouched ones is interesting to see…

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We were led on our ‘Jaunt’ by club member Barry Callen who is very familiar with the area and had Jim Cheeseman bringing up the rear as ‘tail end charlie’.  John Harman managed to stir up this bullant nest and this firmed up our decision to move on… There were seven vehicles on the trip. There was a little moderate terrain encountered, but in the main was a very easy and enjoyable day out.

This club is one of the largest 4WD clubs in Western Australia, catering for all makes of vehicles and age groups and run all sorts of one day, weekend and extended 4WD trips, social, recreational and educational events.  Visitors and new members are always welcome – if you’d like to find out more, click here!

Wildflowers & Scenery East of Geraldton

Leaving Wooramel Station on our trek home, we stopped at Northampton, a small but lovely historic town 50 kms north of Geraldton. Returned for another meal [bangers and mash for me and pepper steak for Ginny] at the ‘bottom’ pub. Yes, there are 3 pubs, and although they all have proper names they are locally known as the Top, Middle and Bottom Pub – who are we to argue, they all sell cold beer and good tucker!

Our aim was to get photographs of the very rare Wreath Flower (Leschenaultia Macrantha) which seems to favour disturbed ground such as the roadside where graders have been turning up the soil. Not sure they don’t occur in the bush as well and it seems they are prolific in some areas and very scarce in others…

We also wanted to explore the very beautiful rolling hills and countryside in the Chapman Valley – one of the most agriculturally productive areas of Western Australia. At this time of the year it is spectacular – huge acreages of wheat and canola as well as well-fed sheep and beef (yum)… The green and yellow is beautiful. We travelled through this region for an hour without seeing another vehicle of any kind!

The weather for our stay was fairly overcast, but we managed to get some sunshine and the cloud formations were pretty amazing.

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On the Pindar Road out of Mullewa we found biggest mobs of the very elusive Wreath Flower plants – neither of us had seen so many in one place. Outstanding stuff.

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From the Chapman Valley we moved south to Mingenew – via Dongara for the famous pepper steak pies from the bakery! The Mingenew pub is for sale if anyone is interested. Nice place, but would need cleaning up and money spent on it to bring it up to somewhere special… Maybe if we win Lotto… [Note from Ginny – not in my lifetime!]

Using Mingenew as our base we drove 35 odd kilometres to the North East to the famous Coalseam Valley where we were told that some early wildflowers were in evidence… The rumour proved correct and there were carpets of everlastings of every description.

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Some really nice ‘free camping’ spots at the Coalseam Conservation Park as well and we intend coming back for a longer stay. The ‘break-away country’ round this area is very scenic. The flora seems to thrive on these formations and it is very pleasant. And it is quiet!

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We were a bit early for the real wildflower season and we think that in about 2 weeks this area will be awash with flowers! Some areas have received early rains, but most are having a late season so it would be good to revisit then… maybe next year?

WA is lucky to have this amazing and beautiful season each year. We have flown over miles (kilometres in new money) of seemingly unending carpets of these flowers, I can vouch for that…

People come from all over the globe to experience this time of year here… Why don’t you give it some thought?!

Exmouth!

We escaped!

After an amazingly mild winter so far in Perth, suddenly the Bureau of Meteorology site predicted cold and wet weather so we packed up the caravan and drove due NORTH in search of the sun…

Spent some time with Michele and her Mum Audrey in Geraldton.  We had one good day of weather before it started raining which we spent in the Chapman Valley

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The Greenough river was interesting after recent floods – many trees uprooted and debris suspended in the trees lining the creek bed.

Took off to Carnarvon in rain and it continued intermittently for the next three days. That didn’t stop us from eating all the beautiful produce there – amazing fresh vegetables and fruit. Plus of course the pink snapper and freshly cooked huge king prawns at $18 per kg from Pickles Point Seafood!

Pulled out of Carnarvon for Exmouth in rain and it continued until half way between Minilya and  Exmouth. Fortunately there was a short break while we were setting up our driveway camp thanks to friends Jan and Jamie.

First day was very miserable with intermittent rain and overcast conditions – not unknown in Exmouth as we can attest from past experience. However, it cleared up over night and for the last three days we have had wonderful conditions – blue skies, no wind and temps in the high 20’s… Bliss!

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We have had a good look round and noted changes in Exmouth – the town is growing with a lot more homes on the marina and construction going on in town as well.

We revisited the Ningaloo coast as far south as Turquoise Bay and some of the coastal camping spots – all full!  No vacancies anywhere down there.

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We must try to book a spot some time in the future, as it is a magnificent coast with lots on offer.

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We are not into ‘swimming with whalesharks’ and we have done whale spotting elsewhere. So we are happy to go fishing and do some photography in the area. Lots of chances of great land/seascapes… but please tell us which photo above you like the best?!

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Beautiful Ieper and the Menin Gate – Belgium

Ieper – or Ypres back in 1918 – was immediately christened as ‘Wipers‘ by Allied soldiers, with even a ‘Wipers Times’ newspaper being written by the British!

During the Middle Ages, Ypres was a prosperous Flemish city renown for its textile industry – they were trading linen with England way back in the 14th century. It is located in Belgium north of the Somme River. Sadly this was right in the pathway of Germany’s planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France during WW1 so it became the scene of some savage battles. Shelled into ruins, the town ramparts were solid enough to endure the pounding of artillery and in fact were used by troops to shelter from the onslaught.

The people of Ieper were devastated at the destruction of their ancient town, but they have rebuilt it magnificently. Check out these before and after pictures of the amazing ‘Cloth Hall‘ below. This building featured in many photographs taken of allied troops moving through the town and the Menin Gate to the battlefields beyond. It is now home to the modern In Flanders Field Museum which commemorates the futility of war and includes a new World War I research centre.

A Before & After

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is also the centre of a painting made by Will Longstaff (Menin Gate at Midnight) showing ghostly troops moving by the gate – a very moving depiction that is in many RSL halls around Australia.

The town’s fire brigade has a group of buglers who play ‘The Last Post’ at 8pm each evening as part of a ceremony to honour the Allied soldiers who lie in unmarked locations throughout the surrounding battlefields. Traffic is halted while the large numbers of visitors attend this very moving experience. 54,000 names grace the walls of the Gate and we defy anyone not to shed a tear about the overwhelming horror and barbarity of war.

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This ceremony started at the end of WWI and has been a feature of the town ever since, except for a brief break during WWII when the town was occupied by German troops. A similar ceremony has been adopted for the close of our Australian War Memorial in Canberra each day.

We stayed at the very nice Ariane Hotel in Ieper while we toured the battlefields. A lovely blend of old architecture with modern interior and facilities.

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Ieper is a delightful place as you can see from the photographs and has many beautiful buildings – and wonderful window displays of cakes and sweets!

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The town has cobblestone streets and we found them a little hard on our legs after a day walking round taking in the sights. The ramparts almost circle the town and are a lovely place to walk and take in the buildings.

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Wallnut Red CurrantWe really had a good time and were intrigued by Belgium and in particular beautiful Ieper with such interesting and relevant history. We intend returning for a longer stay next time… and we would love to hear from anyone else who has also enjoyed visiting this region!

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Marri trees – a great example of WA’s beautiful flora

We would like to share some of Western Australia’s beautiful flora with you, as our state has such a huge variety of wildflowers, bushes and trees.

It’s mid February so we will start with the magnificent Marri trees (Corymbia calophylla)  which are in full flower. It reminds us of a time in New Zealand when we saw snow on the forests midway down the North Island… They contrast so beautifully against the other eucalypts that are not flowering, such as the Red Flowering Gums and the River Red Gums along the creek beds. The large stands are very beautiful and the honeyeaters and bees are in hog (or bee!) heaven.

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In some places the nectar flow is so great it forms wet patches on the ground.

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Some trees are 10-15 metres in height and nearly as big again around their crown. The flowers are sometimes bunched up over most of the extremities of the crown, rather like a cauliflower.

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The characteristic gnarly bark of the trunk and limbs is very evident. Some of last year’s fruit on our local trees is still intact and has avoided the Red & White Tailed Cockatoos’ attentions. These large birds have very strong beaks that they use to crack open the hard gumnuts to extract the seeds.

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The marris provide a very beautiful display at this time of the year throughout the South West of Western Australia, and seem like an extension of our peak wildflower season starting in September each year.

Fellow West Australians, you may like to share your favourite native tree, bush or wildflower with us too?