Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Mount Richmond: the soggy end

Apart from snails, we were on the trail of melaleucas. Once my botanist friend discovered there was a track leading to (or, at least, past) Emu Springs Waterholes, the rest of the afternoon was mapped out.

The North West Border track separated the national park from farming land. A sign at the start warned that it wasn't to be used in wet weather. Once we got into the marshier areas, it became obvious why. It hadn't rained for a while but some parts of the track were soggy. The general sogginess wasn't helped by the earlier passage of one or more 4WDs, which had ploughed furrows. Any deeper and we could have held swimming contests in them. But it gave us the chance to put the ute into low range at last, so we felt as if we were on a real field trip.

We left the ute at the turn off to the waterholes track. Although perfectly navigable, it was closed to private vehicles. That was fine because it gave us the opportunity to check out the flora and fauna. We were accompanied by yellow-tailed black cockatoos by the dozen, blue-winged parrots and two pairs of gang gangs. There were lots of little brown jobs as well but we had no chance of identifying them. (Especially as I'd left the bird guide at home.)

Unfortunately, my camera batteries were on their last legs, so my photos of the excursion are limited. The batteries did retain sufficient power to immortalize in pixels the furry, spiny arse of an echidna. Although this one had decided it wasn't going anywhere, it signaled its displeasure at the bio-paparazzi by pointing its posterior in our general direction. We came to an unstated agreement — I took my photo and went away and it didn't nail my hand to the ground. I think that was an outcome we could both live with.

The plants were less of a bother.

Olearia

Slender dodder-laurel (Cassytha glabella )

Coral fern (Gleichenia microphylla)

Among the treasures along the side of the track were carpets of pygmy sundew (Drosera pygmaea). Sundews are very common on road reserves so it's easy to get blasé but these tiny plants were certainly something to get excited about.

There was more. Much more. But my last shot was of the Melaleuca swamp from the track.

Memo to self: Don't leave the spare batteries in the car.

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