Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Mount Richmond: the pointy end

We stuck our heads in at Bridgewater Lakes (figuratively speaking) but the car park was full (twenty vehicles) and folks were jus' messin' around on jet skis, so we headed off to Mount Richmond National Park. Terra Incognita — neither of us had been there before. I remembered that some of the tree portraits in one of the eucalypt guides had been taken in the vicinity but that was as far as our knowledge extended. Not even armed with a map saying 'here be dragons', we sallied forth.

The hill is composed of tuff (volcanic ash). Its summit supports well-developed eucalypt woodland, which is almost certainly packed with koalas. But we didn't see any. Not one furry arse wedged in a branch. Not even scratched bark or poo. Plenty of kangaroo droppings but nothing that looked as if it might have pattered down from the canopy. So we gave that up as a bad job and explored the burnt slopes instead.

The fire must have come through the area within the past couple of months. The ground was still grey with ash and charcoal but seedlings were popping up everywhere, vivid green against the monochrome background. Eucalypts were putting out new growth and the grass trees were getting back to business. Some of the faster growing annuals were already in flower along the edge of the road.

After the fire

Coppice growth

Grass trees …

… about to flower

… and about to finish flowering

How sculptural can a grass tree get?
Can anything made by humans ever approach the beauty of the natural world?

A party of yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew by in uncharacteristic silence. They normally call on the wing, their song a not-quite-melodious-but-entirely-inoffensive whistling squawk. YTBC are the biggest of the black cockatoos. They are — and I hope I don't lose you with the jargon here — effin' huge. Picture a large bird of prey. Say an osprey. Well, they're bigger than that. They're also gorgeous, ink black with scalloping on the feathers as if they're woodcuts come to life. The tail panels often look white in the sun but the yellow patches on their cheeks are always freshly painted. I could watch them for hours. I would've too but we had places to go, plants to photograph and snails to record.

They might be the size of a light plane
but they're still difficult to photograph with a point and shoot

Like Cape Nelson, Mount Richmond is also on the route of the Great South West Walk. What are you waiting for?

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