Wonderful Wonboyn

The area including Wonboyn Lake, Baycliff and Greenglades is the subject of my final destination post for the year and it is a wonderful spot to explore in Summer! We were blown away by its beauty, variety and interest on our first visit last January and were equally enchanted on our second visit in late November. Like Merrica River to its immediate south (see last month’s post on the king orchids and wildflowers of Merrica River : https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/), it is situated in the northern part of Nadgee Nature Reserve, as can be seen in this photograph of a map from the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) board.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-28-56blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-00 To access this wonderful playground, travel south from Eden along the Princes Highway for 22.5 km, then turn left into Wonboyn Rd and follow it all the way to Myrtle Cove and Wonboyn, a small fishing settlement on the shores of Lake Wonboyn (10 km; 15 minutes).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5967 There are also a number of oyster leases, as well as a holiday resort on the opposite side. From Myrtle Cove, follow Nadgee Rd to the entrance of Nadgee Nature Reserve, where the road becomes the unsealed Greenglades Rd. The sign here indicates that Baycliff is 7 km away, while Greenglades is 4 km. This sign is also where the Jewfish Walk takes off.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-57-52blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0341 To access Baycliff, turn left off Greenglades Rd into Baycliff Rd (approximately 15 minutes to reach this point. Baycliff is 4 km and Greenglades 1 km from here). Progress becomes much slower now as you pass through extensive forests of eucalypts; banksias Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata; casuarinas; Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris and cassinias, as well as a fascinating parallel dune ridge-swale system, formed over the last 6000 years.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-05-25blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5981 You can walk across these dunes to Wonboyn Beach (central part) from the Bayliff Rd. Not long after the Wonboyn Beach car park, the road bifurcates with a 100 m road to the River car park on the left (with an 80 m walk to the lake – this would be the easiest spot to launch the canoe)…blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0007blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0013and the main access (600 m walk) to Wonboyn Lake and Baycliff on the right. Before I start to describe this incredible spot, I will start with a brief look at Wonboyn Lake itself.blogwonboyn50reszdimg_5968As can be seen from this NPWS board map at Myrtle Cove and the Wonboyn Jetty, Wonboyn Lake is a 10 km long tidal lake formed by the estuary and river mouth of Wonboyn River, as it flows into Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6255blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-41 There is shoaling at the oceanic entrance and limited tidal exchange.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-33-12blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-32-39 The lake includes a variety of habitats from seagrass meadows to mangroves, saltmarsh and wetlands, providing homes for a wide diversity of flora and fauna.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-53-07blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-29blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-47-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-31-58blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0005blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0009 I just loved the extensive swamp plain of sea rush, sedges and grasses (accessed from the boardwalk on the Jewfish Walk) and the greens and golds of the grasses and reeds.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0365blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0378blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0377 The water on the edge is quite warm and shallow and is home to mudwhelks, bubble shells (photos 1 and 2), conical sand snails Polinices conicus, whose presence is verified by their clear jelly-like egg sacs (photo 3), and giant jellyfish (photo 4 – but take care walking near them, as their nearly invisible tentacles pack a powerful punch, as I learned only too painfully well!)blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6373blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6375blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-48-00blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-44-48 It is also home to the native Sydney Rock Oyster Saccostrea glomerata, which has been commercially cultivated since the early 1900s. The oysters take two to three years to reach market size and they feed by filtering algae and other marine nutrients from the sea water. Each oyster filters at least 20 litres of water a day, keeping the lake water clean.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-45-27blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6278 Bay Cliff is a headland just south of the mouth of the Wonboyn River, as it enters Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6046 The latter was a deep inland river valley in Pleistocene times, but at the end of the last ice age 6000 years ago, the rising waters flooded the river valleys, converting them to bays and lagoons and Baycliff became an island. You can imagine what it would have looked like from this picture (minus the sand dunes on the left) on the NPWS board.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-23 Over the last 6000 years, it has been reconnected to the mainland by a parallel beach dune barrier infill system and is now being overtaken by it. As sea levels rose, the large rivers in Eastern Victoria had difficulty carrying their loads to the continental shelf and were forced to dump their sediment load on the newly inundated areas.  The sand was carried by the prevailing south-easterly swell from Cape Howe as long-shore drift in a north-easterly direction. Green Cape, the northernmost promontory of Disaster Bay, traps the moving sediment sourced from the continental shelf and long-shore drift, and the sediment is deposited as narrow sandy barriers at river mouths like that of the Wonboyn River.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-48-22 The NPWS board has a very good explanatory diagram, photographed here, describing the formation of parallel dune ridge systems.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-19 During storms, sand is eroded from the beach by wave action, then in calmer weather, forms a berm (defined as a narrow ledge or shelf/ a border barrier) parallel to the shoreline. Grasses and other debris trap the sand blown up from the beach, forming  dunes.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-43-10 New dunes are formed from sand deposited by long-shore drift and the old dunes become beach ridges, separated by swales or depressions, a process which still continues today.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-40-30blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6030 In the Wonboyn area, there are at least 60 beach ridges, each 27 m apart and 30 of these ridges can be seen between the car park and the beach on the Wonboyn Beach walk. The oldest beach ridge (furthest from the sea) has been dated at 7800 years and 3 km of the original flooded bay has been filled in, so that Baycliff is no longer an island. It is the most extensive, least disturbed and best developed parallel dune system on the NSW coast and provides a wonderful record of oceanic, climatic and cultural change over the last 6000 years, as well as being an outstanding example of a major barrier infill sequence, illustrating Holocene coastal evolution. The NPWS board depicts this process very well.blogwonboyn30reszdimg_6022 For more information, refer to  a thesis written by Thomas Oliver at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5657&context=theses.  Another good source of information about the basic  process is : ‘Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology’ by R. Davidson-Arnott. See: https://sudartomas.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/introductiontocoastalprocessesandgeomorphology.pdf.

The underlying geology of Nadgee Nature Reserve is primarily late Devonian Merimbula Group sediments of sandstones, conglomerates, siltstones and shales, laid down 350 Million years ago.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0203blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-19-41blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6112blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-20-08 The coastline comprises of broken cliff lines, intertidal rock platforms, sandy and boulder beaches, sand barriers, estuaries, coastal lagoons and tidal and overwash features.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0160blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-21-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6249blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6432 It contains a wide diversity of  habitats, including over 40 different vegetation associations, 700 plant species (including 6 rare plants and a large number of restricted plant species), 24 of which are at their southernmost geographical limit, 4 different types of rainforest and a large area of coastal heath land. Some of the plant communities include:  Tall Open Forest; Moist Gully Forest; Dry Dune Forest (endangered); Estuarine Scrub; Saltmarsh communities (endangered); and Littoral Rainforest (also endangered). Here are a few of the plants in bloom in late November in the tall open forest on the road into Wonboyn.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0402blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-46-22blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-45-59blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0414blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0399blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-33-39blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-46-31blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0406Moist Gully Forest occurs on deep sandy soils in sheltered gullies and is predominantly Monkey Gum Eucalyptus cypellocarpa and Rough-Barked Apple Angophora floribunda, with a mosaic understorey of tall shrubs ferns, grasses and sedges. The tree hollows provide shelter and nesting sites for yellow-bellied gliders, powerful owls and greater broad-nosed bats, not to mention mushrooms (see 2nd photo below)!blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-27-26blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0392 Dry Dune Forest of White Stringybark Eucalyptus globoidea and Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata grows on the deep freely-draining and damp sandy soils close to the ocean.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-51-40blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6014 The banksia provide nectar for honeyeaters during their north-south migration in Autumn, as well as the threatened eastern pygmy possums. The two photos below show the difference in the foliage between Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia (leaves have entire edges) and Old Man Banksia (also called Saw Tooth Banksia for obvious reasons!) Banksia serrata (leaves have serrated edges).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0338blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-18-12 Wedding Bush Ricinocarpus tuberculatus is the predominant shrub in the heath understorey.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0139blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0141 On the edges of the estuary and lagoons, the low-lying flats are covered with Estuarine Scrub, a dense shrub and herb layer, predominated by Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-54blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6359blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6412blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0144 Ringtail possums build their drays in the paperbarks, while yellow-tailed black cockatoos shred their bark in their search for wood grubs.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-35-51 The specialized Saltmarsh communities occur in intertidal zones, which are intermittently inundated by salt water , and are totally treeless. Dominated by sea rush Juncus krausii and endangered Australian Salt Grass Distichlis distichophylla, they also contain low succulent herbs and salt-tolerant grasses, sedges and samphires. Insects, birds, mammals and aquatic fauna (crabs, fish and molluscs) forage at different stages of the tide. Bats feed on the insects, swamp harriers on small mammals and birds and the endangered ground parrot Pezoporus wallicus feeds at the margins of the saltbush. These saltmarsh communities are threatened by rising sea levels and will have to move inland, which may be impeded by infrastructure development.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0346blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0380blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0379blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0381 Littoral Rainforest, once abundant along the east coast of Australia, has also been greatly reduced and fragmented by coastal development, sand mining and agriculture, making them increasingly vulnerable to damage by fire and weed invasions. Small stands still exist on the coastal headlands and beach sand dunes close to the ocean. Vegetation is characterized by moist, evergreen and leathery leaves.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-09 The dominant canopy species are Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii (photo 1) and Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum (photo 2), but there is also a wide variety of other trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns and vines, providing an important food resource and breeding habitat for migratory and marine birds, as well as being a protective buffer against erosion by damaging coastal winds.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0310blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6298 And finally, there are the really tough plants, which withstand the salt-laden drying coastal winds and cling to the cliffs like these pretty geranium and delicate-looking vines, or colonize the sand dunes like pigface and Beach Spinifex grass Spinifex longifolius.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-01-06blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-01-02blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6336blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6301blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-06-25blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-08-23blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-08-29Nadgee Nature Reserve is home to 48 native mammal species, including the dingo; 216 bird species; 28 reptile species, like this skink on the rock platform and prehistoric-looking Lace Monitor Varanus varius climbing trees in the forest (photos below); 16 amphibian species and 16 species of bats.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0322blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5977 There are 37 threatened native animal species including : 7 Endangered species: Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea; Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans; Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius; Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricllis; Little Tern Sterna albifrons; Eastern Bristlebird Dasyornis brachypterous; and Southern Brown Bandicoot Isoodon obesulus. Vulnerable species include Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus (photo 1); Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris (photo 2); Glossy Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami; Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus; Striated Field Wren Calamanthus fuliginosus; Tiger Quoll Dasyurus maculates; Koala Phascolarctos cinereus; Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus cinereus and a number of owls and other small marsupials and birds.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-42-00blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-31-25 Our second visit was an ornithologist’s dream day out. Not only did we see Sooty and Pied Oyster-Catchers, a Little Pied Cormorant, 3 Eastern Reef Egrets, Silver Gulls, a variety of Terns, a roosting Welcome Swallow and a White-Bellied Sea Eagle, but also Musk Lorikeets and Rainbow Lorikeets feeding on the flowering eucalypts, Grey Fantails and Rufous Fantails, White-Browed Scrub Wrens and Superb Fairy Wrens flitting around in the lower branches and Eastern Whipbirds and pigeons foraging the forest floor, as well as hearing a lyrebird mimic his entire repertoire.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-25-45blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-36-51blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-26-14blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-14-35blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-45-03blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0197blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0227blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-19-48blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-15-09blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0340 However, the highlight of the day was the enormous number (over 20 birds at one stage in a two foot wide puddle !)blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-11-53blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0035blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0037blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0128blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-25 and collection of honeyeaters (a hive of honeyeaters?), drinking at road puddles: New Holland Honeyeaters,blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0083 Yellow-Faced Honeyeaters,blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0135 White-Naped Honeyeaters (I loved the cute juveniles!),blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0045blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-13-43 a female Eastern Spinebillblogwonboyn20reszdimg_0084 and the tiny Scarlet Honeyeaters- my absolute favourite and so many of them! There were 10 males together at one stage with all their females. blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-11-57blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-18-44blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-28blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-33blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0107 There were also Brush Wattlebirds and a female Beautiful Firetail, an uncommon breeding resident finch in this area, as well as a colony of Bell Miners at the start of the Jewfish Walk.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0352blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0115blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0061 The intertidal rock platforms have a well-developped littoral fauna including starfish, sea anemones, cunjevoi and sea tulips, molluscs and crabs, and a wide variety of seaweed.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6209blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6469blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0244blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6063blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6474blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6489blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6060blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6164blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0268blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0271blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6509blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0181blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0252blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6324blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0260 We loved exploring the rock pools on the Baycliff headland (Photos 1 and 2) and rock platforms at Greenglades (Photos 3 and 4).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6073blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-09-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0287blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0249blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0243blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6482The beds of bull kelp are quite significant, though declining in number and density with climate change, as are most of the seaweeds!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6080blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6202 Sea weeds, which produce over half the world’s oxygen supply and store one quarter of the world’s carbon, are an important indicator of atmospheric carbon and climate change, and their decline is a sign that the environment has a major problem.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0278blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0277blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0275blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0296The ocean is also exceptionally rich in marine life, due to the meeting of the warm East Australian Current ( a 500 m deep and 100 to 200 km wide wedge of tropical water flowing south) and the cold ocean water of the Bass Strait, the warm water current spiralling east and drawing up cold water and sediments from the depths of the ocean floor, as illustrated in this diagram on the NPWS board.blogwonboyn50reszdimg_6390 Often bait balls of concentrated prey form close to the shore, resulting in a feeding frenzy by larger fish, birds and mammals.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-39-12blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6135 Animals migrate south from tropical waters to feed on vast shoals of small fish and krill. Every year, 20 Million short-tailed shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris make the long journey from Russia and Japan to Australia to breed, while humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae return with their calves to the rich Antarctic waters every Spring, a journey of 5000 km, one of the longest of any mammal on Earth. See: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-migration.

Due to the huge diversity of fauna and flora, providing abundant food resources; the availability of water and fine-grained stone for tool making; and the large number of sheltered campsites, this area has a rich aboriginal heritage and was occupied for many years by the local Yuin people. Part of the Bundian Way, an ancient trading route between the coast and the high country, it was also popular as a meeting place for tribes from Wollongong in the north (Tharawal), Mallacoota in the south (Bidawal) and the Australian Alps and the Monaro in the west (Maneroo), who would gather to trade and barter goods and information and conduct ceremonies. Baycliff is still a place of great spiritual significance to the aboriginal people today. There are over 20 aboriginal sites in Nadgee Nature Reserve including open shell middens; shelters containing middens or art; open campsites on rock platforms, an axe grinding groove site and two burial sites.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-52-07 Many of them are clustered on the foreshore of Wonboyn Lake, as well as other estuaries and beaches, all areas highly vulnerable to disturbance. Extensive middens in the sand dunes and on rock platforms and estuarine edges contain shells of many species; bones of small mammals and macropods, seals, whales, birds and fish; and stone artefacts and hearths.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0313blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-49-40blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0315 The middens on the headland have spectacular views over the mouth of the Wonboyn River and Disaster Bay!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6308blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-39-50blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6305 The aborigines caught fish from the ocean and lake with spears, rock fish traps, lines and mesh; hunted animals in the forests and heath land; collected shellfish on the rock platforms and gathered plant material, including berries, leaves, tubers, seeds, flowers and nectar for food and medicine. The first photo below illustrates key components of aboriginal life: Lomandra, pigface, shells and bones and flint tools. I loved the following photo, which reminded me of a lizard’s head!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0317 blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0304The aborigines used the juice and leaves of pigface to treat blisters and burns and ate the flowers and sweet centres of its purple fruit raw.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6340 They dried, split and braided Lomandra leaves into baskets and bags, ate the tender leaf bases raw and ground the seed into a flour for making cakes.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0345blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0387 This beautiful area is still very popular today with fishermen, day trippers, bushwalkers, bird watchers, photographers and holiday makers. Fishermen catch dusky flathead, bream, tailor, trevalley, whiting , estuary perch and the occasional flathead and mulloway in Lake Wonboyn and salmon, tailor and even striped marlin in the surf. The jetty at Myrtle Cove even has a sink for cleaning fish.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-54-15blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0372 The area’s fishing legacy can be seen in the old rusty 1950s windlass from an old fishing settlement at Greenglades, a picnic area to the south of Baycliff on the edge of the wilderness area. We heard the lyrebird and saw our first Rufous Fantail for the season in the clearing and creek above the windlass (last photo).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0209blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0222blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0221blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0300 Greenglades has a lovely secluded beach, rocky outcrops, natural bushland and pristine water.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0146blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0337blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0148 There are three bushwalks in the Baycliff area:

Jewfish Walk: 700 m return (15 minutes) from the car park, through forest to the 100 m long boardwalk over a lowland swamp to the Wonboyn Lake foreshore.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0344blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0358blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0361blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0393Wonboyn Beach Walk: 1.4 km return (45 minutes) from the car park across 30 ridge-swale couplets, through a low dense woodland of small to medium shrubs and coastal scrub to the beach, where we had extensive views south to Greenglades and Merrica River beach (photos 3 and 4) and north to Green Cape, Disaster Bay and Baycliff (photos 5 and 6).blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-28-53blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-44-16blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-36-24blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-10-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-37-03blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-40-13Baycliff Walk: 1.2 km (30 minutes) loop walk from the car park through coastal scrub of Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia and Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris to the saltmarsh communities of the lake foreshore, the river mouth, a long secluded beach and the rocky headland with beautiful views of Green Cape, the lighthouse and Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-36-39blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0016blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-17blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-22blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-53-31blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6052blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-58-59blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6350blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-09-33blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-10-49blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-12-19blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6191blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-13-10blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6256blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6253blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-44It is well worth visiting this stunningly beautiful area over the Summer for the beach and headland alone, as well as the cliffs, rock pools, lake and estuary! Happy Holidays!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6035 For more detailed information about Nadgee Nature Reserve, please consult the NPWS Management Plan: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/pomFinalNadgee.pdf, as well as its chapter in ‘Wild Places: Wilderness in Eastern New South Wales’ by Peter Prineas and Henry Gold. See: http://peterprineas.com.au/wild-places/book-reviews  or google ‘Parallel beach dune systems Wonboyn’ to view this link: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=u6RwkTU6hsAC&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=parallel+beach+dune+systems+wonboyn&source=bl&ots=bvACtneVS8&sig=ZgXr-z4L6f0MVP7I7WkC3nH6Kdc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimpoOpxcLQAhXClJQKHSpEB8gQ6AEIQDAF#v=onepage&q=parallel%20beach%20dune%20systems%20wonboyn&f=false

Mt Imlay National Park

In early Spring, we finally made a visit to Mt Imlay, a long-held ambition ever since we first arrived here. Mt Imlay (886m) dominates the skyline from Merimbula to the Victorian border and is accessed via Burrawang Rd, 20 km (15 mins drive) south of Eden, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. Here is a photo of the National Parks map:blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0676 It was named after the Imlay Brothers, who settled in this region in the 1830s and 1840s, establishing a huge pastoral, whaling and trading empire. It was known to the local aborigines as ‘Balawan’ and is a place of spiritual significance for them. Apparently, it was used as a site for telepathic communication with groups to the north near Wallaga Lake. The foothills were selectively logged in the 1960s and a fire trail was built to the summit, giving access to the trig station, but the track was closed in the 1970s to allow the area to revegetate. There is also a Telstra Sea Phone facility, built in 1994 and serving as the last communication link between Melbourne and Sydney for coastal vessels.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0736 In 1972, 3808 ha of steep, heavily forested country around the peak was reserved as Mt Imlay National Park, which has since been extended to 4822 ha. The park has a variety of habitats and is an important refuge area for the conservation of the local native flora and fauna, including a number of threatened or geographically significant species. The summit is of particular scientific interest because of its predominantly undisturbed nature, the presence of several threatened plant species and its biogeographical similarity to Tasmanian peaks. I will be describing our walk soon, but first some introductory notes about this beautiful national park.

Geology

Most of Mt Imlay National Park was formed during the Ordovician Period, 500 to 435 Million years ago, from sedimentary and metamorphosed rocks of the Mallacoota Beds, part of the Southern Highlands Fold Belt, including greywacke, sandstone and shale. The summit of Mt Imlay and the upper slopes are younger, with Devonian (395 to 345 Million years ago) rocks of the Merimbula Group, lying above the Ordovician sediments. The Merimbula Group includes sandstone, conglomerates, quartzite, siltstone and shale. Quaternary sediments form narrow river flats along the Towamba River on the northern edge of the park.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0917blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0770blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0995blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0888blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0899 The soils on the summit and ridges are shallow with many rock fragments and the upper slopes are very sandy, loose and very erodible and subject to movement. I always marvel at the tenacity and optimism of seedlings growing in rock!blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0919 The summit area is only small and drops steeply in all directions with cliff lines in the north and east and a series of steps on the western slope. These steps are formed by the differential erosion of the alternating bands of sandstone, conglomerate and shale. Ridgelines extend from the summit, dissecting the rest of the park, which has narrow rocky ridges and deep gullies, as seen in the photo below.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1016Vegetation

The ridges and dry lower slopes are covered by open forest, dominated by Silvertop Ash, Eucalyptus sieberi and also includes Yellow Stringybark E. muelleriana and occasionally  E. globoidea and Blue-Leaved Stringybark E. agglomerata.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0918 The understorey is shrubby and  includes Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis, Hickory Wattle Acacia falciformis, Shiny Cassinia Cassinia longifolia, Tetratheca thymifolia , Narrow-Leaf Geebung  Persoonia linearis, Acacia obtusifolia , Prickly Broom-Heath  Monotoca  scoparia , Smooth Geebung  Persoonia levisBanksia collina, Bedfordia arborescens, Hakea macreana, Mountain Speedwell Derwentia perfoliata, which had just finished flowering when we visited, and Hibbertia saligna, which is regionally uncommon and at the southern limit of its range. The steep south-east facing slopes (especially just below the ridge crest) are covered by stands of White Ash, E. fraxinoides, a species with a restricted distribution.

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Tetratheca thymifolia
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Narrow-Leafed Geebung Persoonia linearis
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Blanket Bush Bedfordia arborescens, so called for the supersoft undersides of their foliage.
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Hakea macreana
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Mountain Speedwell Derwentia perfoliata had just finished flowering.
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Hibbertia saligna

The moist sheltered gullies and slopes support a tall open forest of Yellow Stringybark, Monkey Gum E. cypellocarpa and River Peppermint  E. elata, with a shrub layer of Hop Goodenia  Goodenia ovata , Blue Olive-Berry  Elaeocarpus reticulates, Lance Beard-Heath  Leucopogon lanceolatus and Fireweed Groundsel  Senecio linearifolius.

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Monkey Gum, also known as Mountain Grey Gum, Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, has beautiful bark.
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Blue Olive-Berry Elaeocarpus reticulatus
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Lance Beard-Heath Leucopogon lanceolatus

There are also pockets of rainforest, including Black Olive-Berry, Elaeocarpus holopetalus, Banyalla Pittosporum bicolour, Soft Tree-Fern Dicksonia antarctica, Hard Water Fern, Blechnum wattsii and Pomaderris species, including Pomaderis phylicifolia subsp. ericoides.

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Black Olive-Berry Elaeocarpus holopetalus
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Soft Tree-Fern Dicksonia antarctica
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Hard Water Fern Blechnum wattsi
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Pomaderris phylicifolia subsp ericoides

Other ferns include: Maidenhair fern  Adiantum sp (Photo 1); Bracken fern  Pteridum esculentum; Coral Fern  Gleichenia rupestris (Photo 2); and Rock Felt Fern  Pyrrosia rupestris (Photo 3).blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0898blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0744blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0767 Climbers include Austral Sarsparilla, Smilax australis, which is shown in the first three photos at various stages and Drooping Mistletoe, Amyema pendula (Photos 4 to 5).blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0777blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0762blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0766blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0747blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0750On the rocky summit is a woodland, dominated by Narrow-Leafed Peppermint, Eucalyptus sp. aff. radiata, but also including Silvertop Ash and Messmate E. obliqua. There is also a stand of less than 200 trees of the very rare, endemic Mallee Gum, Eucalyptus imlayensis, which emerges from a closed tall heath, containing Leptospermum scoparium (1st photo below), Scented Paperbark, Melaleuca squarrosa, Mat Rush Lomandra longifolia, Sunshine Wattle Acacia terminalis (2nd photo below), Prickly Broom-Heath Monotoca  scoparia, Common Oxylobium Oxylobium arborescens, Boronia pinnata and Hibbertia dentata.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0934blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0686 Other plants we saw on our walk included: Hairpin Banksia Banksia spinulosa (photo 1), Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata (photo 2), and plenty of flowering Epacris impressa (photos 3 and 4), which was quite spectacular!blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0837blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0862blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0980blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0902The  Imlay Mallee is only found at a single site on the steep rocky east-facing slope at an altitude of 850m to 870m. It grows to a height of 7 metres and is multi-stemmed with smooth orange-brown and grey bark, which is shed from the stems in ribbons. Seed production is rare and there are no juvenile plants recorded. Mallee Gum appears to be related to Tasmanian eucalypts, an association backed up by the presence of Eriostemon virgatus, which normally grows in Tasmania, Mt Imlay being one of the few mainland locations of this shrub. Known by its common name, the Tasmanian Waxflower, it is the only four-petalled Eriostemon in Eastern Australia. The Weevil Aterpus kubushas, also found in Tasmania and the Victorian Alps, has also been collected on the summit, further evidence of Mt Imlay’s biogeographical similarity with the Tasmanian peaks.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0909blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0903

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Eriostemon virgatus

The summit of Mt Imlay also has a number of threatened and biogeographically significant plant species including: Pomaderris costata, Persoonia brevifolia (close to northern limit), Monotoca elliptica, Saw Sedge Gahnia subaequiglumis, Prostanthera walteri, and Leafless Pink Bells, Tetratheca subaphylla, seen in the photo below.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0798 We enjoyed seeing the early Spring blooms of another endangered endemic species, Boronia imlayensis, seen in this photo. It had only just started flowering on our visit in late August.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0964 We could not identify this shrub- perhaps someone could help us?blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0839blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0838Recent mapping of the park revealed that half of the park is fragmented old-growth forest, whose hollows provide essential habitats for all the arboreal mammals.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1004blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1005blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0774Fauna

Native mammals include: Red-Necked Wallaby, Swamp Wallaby, Greater Glider, Brush-Tail Possum, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Platypus, Wombat, the Large-Footed Myotis and Bush Rat. There are three threatened species: the  Long-Nosed Potoroo, the Koala and the Tiger Quoll. Native birds recorded include: the Gang-Gang Cockatoo, the Superb Lyrebird, the Little Eagle, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, the Wonga Pigeon, Common Bronzewing, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, King Parrot, Grey Currawong, Little Lorikeet and Red-Browed Finch.  Reptiles include: Red-bellied Black Snake, Brown Snake, Lace Monitor and Cunningham’s Skink.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0675And now to our walk, as seen in the National Parks map above! From the Princes Highway, a 20 minute (10 km) drive up the gravel Burrawang Rd through the East Boyd State Forest with dramatic examples of the devastation of clear felling practices along the way , as well as revegetated areas from 1977 and 1978, brings you to the Burrawang Picnic Area and the start of the Mt Imlay Summit Walking Track.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0670 At the start of the walk and the last stretch to the summit are Boot Cleaning Stations with an information board (seen in the 2nd photo), to stop the spread of the Cinnamon Fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0689blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0688 These include a brush to clean your boots and a dip with a chemical solution to wash your soles.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0877blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1034 Already, a number of species have been affected including the Austral Grass Trees, Tea Broom-Heath, Common Heath, Leafless Pink Bells and Hairpin Banksia.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0863 The fungus attacks the roots and causes them to rot and has already destroyed large areas of Grass Trees in particular.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0866blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0867The track is described as a challenging 3 km walk, rising 600 m to the summit (6 km return; 3 to 4 hours), but because the walk is broken up into different sections and there is so much botanical interest, we managed it quite easily with photography stops along the way. Also, I think we are fairly fit, as our daily walks in Candelo involve steep hills either side of the valley, and we weren’t even stiff the next day. I was very impressed with my usually suspect knee, which behaved beautifully on the walk with not a twinge of pain! The walk follows the ridge up the right hand side of the mountain, shown in the photo below.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0737 The track is marked by silver tags on the trees and there are interesting information boards at intervals.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0822blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0752 The first stretch of the track is a bit boring through dry open eucalypt forest along the old road, but once you reach the Austral Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea australis) ridge, it becomes much more interesting.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0704blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1022 We ascended a steep path past Dianella tasmanica outcrops (photo 2) to our first set of large boulders.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0720blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0996blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0734 We skirted around a natural amphitheatre on the same level, then ascended to the base of a cliff with huge boulders under a tall forest of Silvertop Ash trees.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1015blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0789blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0790blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0978 A steep slope leads to a razorback ridge, which runs 500m to the trig station.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0942blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0954blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0890 There were lots of Spring wildflowers in a variety of colours- whites, creams, yellows, pinks, blues, purples and reds. Here are a few more photos. In order: Eriostemon virgatus, Lance Beard-Heath Leucopogon lanceolatus , Hakea macreana, Pomaderris phylicifolia subsp. ericoides, Sweet Wattle Acacia suaveolens, and Common Heath Epacris impressa (last two photos).blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0923blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0870blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1013blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0841blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0684blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0869blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0979 The stunning photo opportunities were further increased by the spectacular views of the coast, north to Mt Dromedary (photos 1 and 2) and Eden, including the wood chip mill (photos 3 and 4); west to the mountains (photos 5 and 6); east to Green Cape and Bay Cliff and the Wonboyn River (photos 7 to 10);  and to the far south, the holiday shacks, beaches and river entrance at Mallacoota (photos 11 and 12).blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0973blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0967blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0926blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0930blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0956blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0848blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0842blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0844blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0831blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0931blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0946blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0947Unfortunately, the day was a bit cloudy and grey and the summit quite cold and windy, so we ate a quick picnic lunch at the top, disturbing a roosting Little Eagle in the process.blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0906 Then descended back to the Silvertop Ash forest, where we met the only other bushwalkers we saw that day- a couple with a six year old daughter, whose timing was better as the sky had just turned a bright blue for their arrival at the summit. Their views would have been even better! These photos  contrast our day (photo 1) and that of the next couple (photo 2).blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1036blogmtimlay20reszdimg_1014 We really enjoyed visiting this iconic local landmark. Next week, we explore the Merrica River, another stunning walk in Springtime. I will finish with a lovely photo of the stump of a dead Austral Grass Tree, which captured our attention!blogmtimlay20reszdimg_0924

South East Forests National Park

We are very lucky to live close to this wonderful national park, which encompasses a wide range of habitats from swamp and grassland to old growth forests and escarpment and gorge country and a variety of wildlife, including 48 mammal and 33 reptile species. The 115, 177 ha park was formed in 1997, amalgamating earlier national parks and state forest reserves including : Genoa, Tantawangalo, Bemboka, Yowaka and Coolangubra National Parks, which were all formed in 1994, after a major campaign to protect the last of the old growth forests in South-East New South Wales from woodchipping, which began in 1969 and continued for 25 years, despite increasing opposition. It is part of less than 10 percent of the old growth forest, which survives in Australia after 200 years of clearing. These old growth forest are incredibly important, as they provide nesting hollows for birds and arboreal marsupials. The South East Forest campaign has been documented in a film called ‘Understorey’ by David Gallant. See: https://www.facebook.com/Understorey-a-film-on-the-south-east-forest-campaigns-940034452718427/.

Last April, we spent a wonderful day exploring some of the local landmarks, including Alexander’s Hut, one of the few remaining cattleman’s mountain huts; Nunnock Swamp and Grasslands; Woolingubrah Inn; and finally Myanba Gorge. A few days later, we searched out ‘Fernleigh’, the original farm of Alexander Robinson, and tried to determine the ridge, up which he used to drive his cattle to their Summer pastures.

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Fernleigh‘ on middle of far right edge; The ridge is between the house and the forested mountains at back.
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Another view of the ridge
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‘Fernleigh’, in front of the ridge up into the mountains

During our search, we photographed a pair of beautiful Wedge-Tailed Eagles, sitting high in a dead tree, looking back to the heavily forested escarpment.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-24 12.41.21BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-24 12.40.25 If this majestic bird was travelling inland from the coastal fringe, she would fly over the fertile pastures and undulating hills of ‘Fernleigh’, ‘Tantawangalo’ and Mogilla to the heavily forested 400 Million year old granite escarpment of the South Coast Range (also known as the Bega Batholith), which lies between the Victorian border in the south and Bungendore and Braidwood in the north.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-24 12.53.02

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Heavily forested slope and escarpment

Travelling west, she would cross steep-sided gorges, a myriad of swamps and rolling forest country to the open grasslands and volcanic basalt of the Monaro Tableland.

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The old homestead

‘Fernleigh’ was the original home of the Robinson family. Every Spring, they would take 40-60 head of cattle up into the mountains to reduce the pressure of stock grazing on their lower holdings during Summer. Using dogs and an experienced beast as a leader, they would take a full day to herd their animals up this gentle ridge into the dense escarpment forests along old bridle trails : the Postman’s Track and then onto the Cattleman’s Link Trail to their Summer pastures at Alexander’s Hut, seen here in the National Parks map at the hut. For the rest of this post, I will be referring to National Parks and Wildlife Service by its acronym, NPWS.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.03.09 The farmers would let their heifers and poddy calves loose in the bush for a few years. Cattle moved freely between different escarpment properties, so all the cattle grazing families would muster the cattle together and shared each other’s huts.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.01.11 Alexander’s Hut is one of the few remaining mountain huts left. Originally, the property was owned from 1898 to 1922 by Charlie and Ethel Soloman, who ran the General Store in Cathcart.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.00.34Their original hut was on the site of the current pear tree (photo below), but it burnt down and was replaced by a one-room slab hut, built by George Summerell and his sons Norm and Harry of Cathcart, who incidentally built many of the mountain huts.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.07.16 Local trees were felled, the logs were cut into lengths and split into slabs with broad axes, mauls and frocs, then they were dragged to the site by bullock teams. Slabs were fitted closely together into grooved timber plates at the top and bottom, then the gaps between slabs covered with thinner timber boards to reduce draughts.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.12.22 The roof was corrugated iron, under laid with a hessian ceiling, glued with flour paste (see photo below). There was a fireplace on the right wall, but on the later addition of a second room, the fireplace was relocated and the old fireplace wall was patched up.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.02.02 The property was sold to Alexander Robinson in 1922 and used by three generations of the family, until it was sold in 1990 to the Wilkinsons, who replaced the patched wall with a window and looked after the property until it came under the control of NPWS.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.11.42 It is possible to stay there – both camping and in the hut- a great way for absorbing the atmosphere of the early days!BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 15.11.56It is such a peaceful beautiful spot now, though it would have been very different back in the early days. Apparently, there was a rabbit plague between the 1920s and 1950s and the Robinsons would often stay up here for a fortnight to dry the skins of the trapped rabbits, before giving them to their Nimmitabel agent, who sold the skins in Melbourne and Sydney. They would often trap 60 rabbits in a night. Rabbit fur was used to make felt hats, worn by the soldiers during the world wars, and the rabbit carcasses were exported to Post War Europe during food shortages.

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Red-Necked Wallaby
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Another local resident!

Since the introduction of myxamatosis, rabbit numbers are now under control, but unfortunately feral deer and pigs are still a major problem and cause considerable damage to the fragile Nunnock Grasslands and Swamp, which are both endangered ecological communities. Other threats include: the introduction of weeds; the spread of Phytophthora (dieback); climate change and illegal hunting.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.01.30Nunnock Swamp (seen in the NPWS map above) was formed in a shallow depression, perched on the edge of the escarpment of the South-East Ranges (part of the Great Dividing Range), at the headwaters of several creeks.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.10.29 Covering more than 100 ha, this subalpine bog is comprised of a complex array of basins and arms, which reflect the underlying valleys, cut into the impervious granite rock by ancient small streamlets and  which vary in degrees of saturation, according to seasonally fluctuating water levels and the particular section of the swamp.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.10.15 The northern part (photo above) is permanently saturated , with a large body of surface water, fringed with sedges and sphagnum moss beds (Sphagnum cristatum), and underlain with a deep layer of peat, formed over many centuries, and which acts like a huge sponge, holding lots of water.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.16.08

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Sphagnum Moss

The central and southern part of the swamp is drier and dominated by seasonally saturated shrub and grass communities with fringing woodland. Occasionally, it dries out with periodic droughts. One arm of the swamp drains to the east into the Bega River, but most of the swamp drains south-west into the tributaries of Bombala River and thence to the Snowy River in Victoria.

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Southern Swamp with waterlilies

BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.56.27We had a lovely 4 km walk around the edge of the swamp, allowing us to appreciate the wide diversity of habitats:

Tall Wet Forest: Moist slopes and gullies: Brown Barrel Eucalyptus fastigata; Monkey Gum (also known as Mountain Grey Gum) E. cypellocarpa; Ribbon Gum E. viminalis; and Messmate E. obliqua; with an understorey of tall shrubs of Blanket Bush Bedfordia arborescens; Olearia; Pomaderis; Ferns and herbs.

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Tree Fern
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These old growth trees are so important for their nesting hollows
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Gnarled old warrior!

Dry Forest: Granite ridges, exposed to the sun:  Narrow-Leafed Peppermint E. radiata; Mountain Gum E. dalrympleana and Snow Gum E. pauciflora; with an understorey of Silver Banksia B. marginata and Snow Grass Poa species.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.41.05BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.38.58BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.45.35BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.42.39Grassy Woodlands (Endangered): Fertile soils, derived from basalt and past volcanic activity: Snow Gum E. pauciflora and Ribbon Gum E. viminalis, with a sparse shrub layer of Snow Grass Poa sp.; Kangaroo Grass Themeda australis; and forbs (broad-leafed herbaceous wild flowers).BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 14.11.06

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We saw a feral deer grazing at the back of this photo, before disappearing into the forest behind

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Heath Daisy Allittia uliginosa
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White Heath Daisy and Yam Daisy (Microseris sp.)

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Colourful fungi in leaf litter

Natural Temperate Grasslands: Patches along the escarpment on exposed basalt or low lying areas, where the cold air pools or the soils are periodically water-logged, preventing the growth of tree seedlings. In October and November, they are filled with wildflowers: Granite Buttercup Ranunculus graniticola; Grass Trigger Plant Stylidium graminifolium; and Swamp Everlasting Xerochrysum palustre (see first 2 photos above).BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.05.51BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 12.53.07Forest-Grassland Ecotone: Transitional area between snowgum woodland and grassland: Rich diversity of plants and wildlife including: Eastern Grey Kangaroos; Red-Necked Wallabies; Swamp Wallabies; Koalas; Yellow-bellied Gliders; Greater Gliders; Powerful Owls and Masked Owls eg Nunnock Camping Ground.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 14.39.59BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 14.40.11

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Wombat hole

Swamp: Sphagnum cristatum; Eastern Banjo Frog (Pobblebonk); Whistling Tree Frog; Dendy’s Toadlet; White Lipped Snake; Copperhead; Migratory Latham’s Snipe and many other birds, including these Grey Teal in the first photo below.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.10.05BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.32.07The wide variety of vegetation types supplied a variety of food, fibre and shelter resources for the local aboriginal people, the Maneroo, who lived here for over 20 000 years. In Winter, they would follow well-worn bridle trails down to the coast for trade, large inter-tribal ceremonies and feasting, enjoying whale meat, fish and shellfish like mussels. In the Summer, the coastal Yuins would follow these same trails up into the mountains to the Monaro Tablelands to feast on the Bogong Moth.

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Magpie
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Ground Thrush

Later, early European settlers would also follow these trails, and they still exist today as part of a network of 4WD roads like the steep rugged Postman’s Track (the main route for the weekly packhorse mail service for the Monaro, from Cooma to the coast, from 1851 to 1875) and bushwalking tracks, including the 2.5 km Cattleman’s Walking Track, which retraces the old stock route and the  4.8 km Wilkinsons Walking Track and 2 km Keys Track between Alexander’s Hut and Nunnock Campground. Here are the NPWS maps of the walking tracks.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.01.21BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 13.06.15 Camping is also available at Six Mile Creek, which has a 300 metre walking track along Tantawangalo Creek and is a popular swimming hole in Summer.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-08-12 13.29.27BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-08-12 13.32.57BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-08-12 13.40.02Further south, the aborigines used to follow an old bridle trail from Towamba up Myanba Creek to Myanba Gorge and the Monaro Tablelands. Here is a NPWS map of its location.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.42.49 Myanba Gorge is perched on the granite escarpment in the Coolangubbra section of the South East Forest National Park.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.58.03BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.57.41 We accessed it via Coolangubra Forest Way and Kanoonah Road, a long dry dusty road through clear-felled forest, but it was worth it for the end destination! The 2 km walk (takes 1 hour return) follows the banks of the Myanba Creek, as it flows over granite boulders into the steep-sided gorge, then off the escarpment into the Towamba River, which opens out into the sea at Twofold Bay, Eden. This is a photo of the NPWS interpretive board.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.43.26BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.46.00BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.48.25 BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.53.19BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.57.51There are three lookouts: Myanba Creek Lookout; Pulpit Rock Lookout and finally, Myanba Gorge Lookout with very impressive views over the gorge to the Towamba Valley below.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.58.36BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.59.07 The Coolangubra section of the park has a number of unusual plant communities and rare and endangered animals. Vegetation communities include:

Dry Rainforest (Endangered): Dry open forest on rocky north–facing slopes and heads of gullies: Rusty Fig, Ficus rubiginosa, is at the southernmost limit of its geographical range.

Escarpment Dry Grassy Forest: Blue-Leafed Stringybark E. maidenii.

Escarpment Tall Wet Forest: Brown Barrel E. fastigata ; Messmate E. obliqua; Monkey Gum or Mountain Grey Gum E. cypellocarpa ; Narrow-Leafed Peppermint E. radiata: Possums, gliders and owls.

Hinterland Dry Grassy Forest

Hinterland Dry Shrub Forest: White Stringybark E. globoidea; Yellow Stringybark E. muelleriana; ; Peppermint Gum E. nicholii; Brown Barrel E. fastigata; Silvertop Ash E. sieberii; Messmate E. obliqua ; Monkey Gum or Mountain Grey Gum E. cypellocarpa.

Wet Gully Fern Forest

Rainforest: Small pockets along Myanba Creek:  Cool Temperate rainforest restricted to gullies with steep slopes eg Olive Berry Elaeocarpus holopetalus; Warm Temperate rainforest on rocky sites in the gorge, where they are protected from fires eg Pittosporum undulatum; Streaked Rock Orchids Dendrobium striolatum; and Victorian Christmas Bush Prostanthera lasianthos. The photos below are in order: Epacris impressa and Correa reflexa.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.50.40BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.52.32The old growth forests homes and nesting hollows to a wide variety of animal life:

Wombats; Swamp Wallabies ; Parma Wallabies; Tiger Quolls; Platypus;  the threatened Southern Brown Bandicoot; Endangered Long-Footed Potoroos, the only known population in NSW; White-Footed Dunnarts; Smoky Mouse ;  Eastern Pygmy Possum, Brush-Tailed Possums; Feather-Tailed Gliders; Sugar Gliders; Greater Gliders; and Yellow-Bellied Gliders.

The possums and gliders are the main food source for the threatened Powerful Owls, Sooty Owls and Southern Boobooks. Other birds include: Square-Tailed Kite; Peregrine Falcon; Gang Gang Cockatoos; Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos; Superb Lyrebird; and Honeyeaters. Other animals include:  Diamond Python; Eastern Water Dragon; Giant Burrowing Frog and Australian Grayling, an endangered freshwater fish, which lives further downstream and which migrates from the coastal streams to the ocean.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 17.58.29BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 18.08.23If you are in the area, it is also worth visiting Woolingubrah Inn in the Coolangubra State Forest, 20 km from Bombala.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 16.56.48 Woolingubrah is an aboriginal word meaning ‘windy place’, an apt description for its location on the exposed peak of Big Jack Mountain. Before the construction of the Tantawangalo Mountain Road, the Big Jack Mountain Bridle Trail was the only track from Eden to the Monaro and the goldfields at Kiandra. The inn was imported as a prefabricated building from the USA to provide a halfway house for emigrants travelling to the goldfields during the goldrush of the 1860s. Only one of three such buildings still existing in Australia, it arrived at Eden by coastal steamer in October 1860 and was transported by bullock wagon to Woolingubrah, where the sections were assembled together to make a dwelling with six bedrooms, a bar and a kitchen and dining room.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 16.59.47 From 1871, it became the family home of HA Nicholson for the next 15 years. It was purchased by the Forestry Corporation in 1986 and was restored in 2001.The old roof shingles were replaced by a corrugated iron roof, but can still be seen under the verandah.BlogSEForestsNP20%Reszd2016-04-13 16.59.26At the end of April, we drove up Wolumla Peak, also in South East Forests National Park.

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Our destination : Wolumla Peak

Once we finally found the start, the signs all having been removed(!), it was a really long slow road, 15 km at 20 km per hour, along corrugated 4WD forestry roads and at times, we wondered if it was worth it, but the 360 degree view at the top from the fire-spotting tower was magnificent !BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1464

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Fire-Spotting Tower

We could see Merimbula (photos 1-4) and Pambula (photo 5) and the coast to the east and south;BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1431BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1433BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1449BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1579BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1434 the escarpment behind to the west and to the north, our own little village of Candelo.BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1452BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1451 The vegetation was lovely- Fireweed Grounsel Senecio linearifolius, white and golden everlasting daisies, red heath, wattle…BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1460BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1468BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1457BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1456BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1461BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1582BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1583BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1484BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1585On the way down, we spotted our first Glossy Black Cockatoos, feeding in the casuarinas (1st photo)- a very exciting event, as we knew they were in the area, but had not seen them yet.BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1498BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1540BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1573BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1565 We also saw Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, a pair of Spotted Quail Thrush (also new to us – photo below) and Swamp Wallabies and listened to the entire repertoire of a Superb Lyrebird, mimicking the calls of Grey Thrush, Butcherbirds, Eastern Whipbirds, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, Kookaburras and White-Browed Scrub Wrens.BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1481 We discovered a huge velvety-brown moth, with a 16 cm wing span and camouflaged well against the brown and grey pebbles of the beautiful Pambula Creek, later identified as a White-Stemmed Gum Moth, Chelepteryx collesi. This is what I love about our amazing natural world- there are always new things to be discovered and new places to explore!BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1636BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1633BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1637There is so much more to do in South-East Forest National Park, as can be seen in: http://www.eden.nsw.au/~edennswa/images/stories/BushWalks/SouthEastForestNationalPark_region.pdf. There is also much more information on the National Parks Management Plan : www.environment.nsw.gov.au/parkmanagement/SoutheastforestMgmtplan.htm  (map)  and click on the Download Now button on the right hand side of the page for the plan.

Here are some  photos of the beautiful Pambula Creek:BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1607BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1612BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1615BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1617

Favourite Private Country Gardens: Part 1

There are so many beautiful country gardens in Australia and many highly talented gardeners and garden designers. The wide variety of climatic conditions, altitudes and soil types allow for a huge variation in gardens and the size of country gardens is only limited by  the time required to maintain them. During our sojourn in Victoria from 2009 to 2014 , we were lucky enough to visit a large number of gardens through the Australian Open Gardens Scheme and local garden festivals , including the Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens Inc.  and the Dandenongs Garden Festival. Fortunately, it is still possible to visit these gardens through these local festivals and Open Gardens Victoria has taken up where the Australian Open Garden Scheme left off, though the number of open gardens is greatly reduced. Some properties have since been sold or are up for sale and some are or have become accommodation, so it is still possible to visit most of them, even if it does cost a bomb! I guess at least you get them to yourselves, rather than having to contend with huge crowds! Because this post is so large, I have divided it into two sections:

Part 1 : Beechmont; Westport; Bringalbit; Corinella Country House; and The Garden Vineyard

Part 2 : Villa Lettisier; Barb and Pete’s Garden; Musk Farm; and Lixouri

1.Beechmont  

12 Mernda Rd Olinda (3km from Olinda) 4.05 Ha (of which the garden is 2.3 hectares)BlogPrivCountry20%Reszd2016-07-13 15.05.18Illustrated map from Open Gardens visit.

We visited this lovely garden on the 11th  October 2009, as part of the Dandenongs Garden Festival: Inspiring in Spring, and it certainly was! At the time, it was owned by Simon and Marcia Begg, who bought the hilltop garden with its 1970s house and separate 2 bedroom cottage in January 1997.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 075BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 016The flat area on the north side of the house already had established garden beds containing viburnums, rhododendrons, edgeworthii, camellias, magnolias, cornus and other exotics.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 034BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 028BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 030 There were a number of large native and exotic trees including Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans); Blackwood Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon); a very tall Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera); a Bunya Bunya Pine and Hoop Pine and 8o year old Beech trees of the Fagus and Nothofagus genera, hence the name: ‘Beechmont’. Marcia and Simon were keen to collect as many beeches from both genera as possible.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 092BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 091BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 061Most of their initial efforts were directed to the south side of the house, converting an old horse paddock to sweeping lawns and garden beds with strong vistas and focal points and a natural progression from one are to the next. At the front of the house, a blue crystal-glazed porcelain urn marks the top of a serpentine rill (pebble water run), which flows down the hill to a large reflective pond.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 066BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 063BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 062They raised many of the plants themselves, including shrubs, cottage garden plants and Vireya rhododendrons. Garden beds are heavily mulched and watered by drip irrigation. An  irrigation bore, installed in 2004, was a godsend during the drought and is supplemented by large rain water tanks.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 093BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 036BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 022BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 014BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 012In 2002, they remodelled the old tennis court on the north side of the house into a walled garden with a central pond and perennial borders, affectionately dubbing the project ‘the SKI garden’ (‘Spending the Kids Inheritance’). The old tennis court fence is clothed in clematis and wisteria. The entrance is marked with the owners’ initials. The walled garden is connected to the South Garden by the Blueberry Avenue, which contains scented plants and a daphne collection.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 042BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 047BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 046In 2006, the nursery was replaced with a parterre garden, inspired by Alice In Wonderland. Hedged flower beds in the shape of card suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) frame a central garden bed with a terracotta urn.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 049 Two recently-released Wollemi Pines, Wollemi nobilis, were planted in the north and south lawn. Smaller beds were extended to get the proportions right in the garden and the hen yard became another Vireya garden. In 2009. a new shade house and propogation bed for vireyas was built.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 055BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 051Other features of the garden include: a hidden secret garden; a wheel parterre; a native garden with spectacular views as far as the Mornington Peninsula on a clear day; a South African bed; a rare plants bed; a bed of maples and deciduous azaleas;  a rockery with small ponds and quirky sculptures throughout the garden.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 076BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 079BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 074BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 041In November 2012, the Beggs sold to Cherrie Miriklis, the owner of Flowers Vasette, the well-known Fitzroy florist (http://flowersvasette.com.au/). Read her story on : http://www.yarravalleymagazine.com.au/beechmont-olinda/.

The house, now known as Beechmont Garden Retreat, is used for luxury accommodation. See : http://www.vrgetaways.com.au/beechmont-gardens/.

2.Westport

74 Ferrier Rd New Gisborne   1.6 ha (4 acres)  3km to Gisborne; 52 km to Melbourne CBD.

Set at the foot of Mt. Macedon, Westport is another lovely garden to visit in the Spring-time. We discovered this garden on 8th September 2014.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 062BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 060 At the time, it was owned by Neil Robertson, who was the National Executive Officer of the Australian Open Gardens Scheme from 1990 to 2010. He did have the property on the market in October 2014, so I don’t know if he still owns it. His forebears by marriage, the  Ferrier-Hamiltons, were the original squatters in the area in the 1840s and when Thomas Ferrier-Hamilton died, he left each child 80 acres of land. His son, Vereker, who married Neil’s Great Aunt Nina, in 1898, built a country house on his portion.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 033BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 034BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 037BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 109 Vereker and Nina were keen gardeners and planted many trees, which still exist today: pines on the Western boundary; oaks lining the driveway; pinoaks near the house; a weeping elm; a large collection of Arbutus and a grove of silver birches, as well as thousands of daffodils, some bred by Alister Clark.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 118BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 096BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 106BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 019BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 016BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 011Neil bought Westport from a cousin 32 years ago. The house had been let for 25 years and the middle storey of the original garden had disappeared, except for 5 camellias, a couple of rhododendrons, a winter woodbine and roses.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 050BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 041BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 043BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 044BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 047 Over the past 30 years, Neil planted more trees, shrubs and bulbs within the framework of the old garden, defined by the mature trees.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 077BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 081BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 080BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 083 Shrubberies screen garden rooms, creating surprise and illusion across the flat site. Plants had to cope with poor drainage, frosts, hot Summers and hot, dry northerly winds.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 111BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 120BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 066BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 055Shrubs include : camellias, viburnums, daphne, spireae, magnolis, forsythias, Winter woodbine, wintersweet, chaenomeles and lots of old roses!BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 071BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 054BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 048BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 051 There are hellebores and masses of bulbs- daffodils, muscari and bluebells.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 122BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 101BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 074BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 113BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 049BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 012And lots of pot plants.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 036BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 0323a.Bringalbit

512 Sidonia Rd Sidonia via Kyneton   4 ha garden  Susan Fox   Ph (03) 5423 7223

http://bringalbit.com.au

We first discovered this lovely garden on 6th September 2009, as part of the annual Kyneton Daffodil and Arts Festival, then stayed here in a delightful old rustic cottage on the weekend of the 6th – 7th June 2014.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4385BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 150 This historic property on the granite hills, 18 km north of Kyneton, is owned by the Fox family and has an 1870s granite homestead and 10 acres (4 ha) of parkland and garden, developed over 130 years. Here is Susan’s map of the property, which hangs on the wall of the cottage, as well as photos of Susan and her dogs.

BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4463BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4462BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4442Originally 1263 acres of land, the property was settled by John Apperley in 1858. Between 1866 and 1877, the current homestead was built in stages by John Lang, starting in 1871. William Fysh, who owned the property between 1887 and 1908, landscaped the lake and planted the surrounding parkland with oaks, deodars, pine windbreaks and poplar stands. Exotic trees surround the ornamental lake, which looks beautiful in December with its pink and white water lilies in flower. The walk down to the lake is enhanced by a mass planting of deep roses, salvias and agapanthus on the embankment of the old tennis court. The 1km long driveway is lined with Mahogany Gums.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4433BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4424The Fox family bought the property in 1990 and restored the house and garden.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4482BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 146 There were no garden beds, so they developed a paddock on the northern side of the house into a garden, containing a crab apple walk, a quince walk, shrubs and perennial borders, a vegetable garden, an olive grove and an orchard.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 157BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4382BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4377BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4450 They used lichen covered honey-colored stone, quarried on the property, to build walls, steps and terraces.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4436BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4438BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4466Susan is an artist and her touch can be seen in perennial border at the front of the house, which has a blue-and-grey colour scheme with lavenders, delphiniums and forget-me-nots. Cecile Brunner, Iceberg and Sea Foam roses climb up the verandah poles. Round the back of the house, stone walls edge a lavender garden with rose standards of Penelope and Delicata, under-planted with shrub rose, Honey Flow, and David Austin’s Mary Rose. The north-facing sunny terrace beds are filled with roses, lavenders, dianthus and gaura and edged with the silver-foliaged Snow-in-Summer. An arbour, covered with a Mme Alfred Carrière rose, leads to a scented garden, surrounded by lilac, and a parterre of santolina, set off by a weeping white hawthorne. I would love to see this garden in Summer for all its old roses! There was still an old bloom of Souvenir de St Anne during our Winter stay (1st photo below).BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4467BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 158BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 159The 50 metre long Crab Apple Walk rises from a double perennial border of mauve, white and pink Spring blooms, followed by white and blue agapanthus, lemon evening primroses and red hot pokers in Summer. The 60 metre long Quince Walk is spectacular in Spring (flowers) and Autumn (fruit and Autumn foliage) and leads to an old gate overlooking the Cobaw Hills.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4480 The daffodil walk is a highlight in September and leads to an original stone shed, shaded by an huge old evergreen oak, Quercus canariensis.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4409BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4428 There are many pots of succulents on the blue stands next to the shed and beside the house.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4429BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4376 Peacocks, guinea fowl, bantams and chooks free-range the garden, while cats snooze in the sun on the cottage verandah and long-horned Highland Cattle and black-faced sheep graze the surrounding paddocks.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4449BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 148BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4484BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 160BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4445BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4419BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4398BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 147BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4405 The old chook house is smothered by Lamarque, a lemony-scented Noisette rose. BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4414BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 143Bringalbit has an historic old shearing shed, numerous farm buildings and a range of self-contained accommodation options.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4448BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4459BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4452 We stayed in the Gardeners Cottage beside the main house (a very reasonable tariff of $115 per night) and the décor was delightfully eclectic and quaint!  I would highly recommend staying there!BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 149BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4389 BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4469 (2)BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4475There is also self-contained accommodation in the Shearers’ Shack and Woolshed Hill House and for a bit of old-fashioned luxury, bed-and-breakfast in the grand old house.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4451 The website has a terrific video about the house and garden. The garden and shearing shed are available for weddings, parties and corporate functions. It is also open to the public every weekend 10am-4pm and weekdays by appointment at $5 per head. If you are visiting during the Kyneton Daffodil Festival, it is also worth visiting nearby ‘Corinella’:

3b. Corinella Country House

998 Kyneton-Metcalfe Rd Green Hill  Ph (03) 5423 2474  or 0438 269 651

First farmed in the 1870s and owned by Sue and Steve Wright, the 130 year old house has been fully restored  and is now a guest house. Self-catering and bed-and-breakfast options are available. See: http://www.corinella.net/.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 197