Friday, 11 February 2011

Chillagoe: Karsting Call

The Chillagoe region is looking lush and flush following several heavy downpours, the most recent of which swept in with TC Yasi last week. With more rain forecast for the afternoon and Chillagoe Creek only requiring a little push before it cut the road, we didn't hang around.

By lunchtime, storms were already building on the horizon.

Chillagoe - Mungana National Park was looking verdant and luxuriant. Just the way it should be in the Wet Season.

One of the few plants in flower was the stunning desert rose Gossypium australe.

A karst tower cloaked with vine thicket trees and shrubs. Many of these are Dry Season deciduous, so at this time of year they are popping out leaves like crazy.

The karst and associated vine thicket are home to a relatively high diversity of snails. This is a recently dead specimen of the camaenid Xanthomelon pachystylum, which is one of the few that also occur in the surrounding savannah. You can see a couple of other species of Chillagoe snails here and here.

Snails aren't the only invertebrates of note at Chillagoe. A monster mantis must have produced this ootheca shortly before we arrived. I didn't go looking for it among the leaves of the Abutilon, but I'm sure it was watching me!


Anonymous said...

Interesting posts Bronwen - oh those blue skies look so inviting! I haven't been to Chillagoe for years and I think its time for another visit. I love the rainy season but after many grey days .....a Vitamin D blast would be lovely.

JK said...

Now this is really an interesting trip! My first time looking at tropical monsoonal limestone forests.

Certainly those snails spend most of their time aestivating, don't they?

forestwalk/laura k said...

looks so inviting...i just love the rock formations! i'd love to wander....

ootheca? i had to look that up. i thought it was a cocoon...but actually an egg sac!

and cool snails...and awesome desert rose!

Snail said...

Barbara, they have just graded the highway, so it's nice and smooth(ish). The blue skies were very welcome. Just magnificent!

Snail said...

JK, it is very seasonal. The small, rock-dwelling snails are fairly abundant all year around, but the others are usually only obvious as dead shells. I don't know how some of them survive!

Snail said...

Laura, there are lots of good walking tracks around and through the rock formations, so some excellent wandering to be had. I'm sure there are snakes, but I've yet to have a close encounter there.

That ootheca was about 3 inches across, so mum must have been a biggun!