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

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

Ben Boyd National Park: Part 1

Covering 10,485 hectares and 47 km coastline, Ben Boyd National Park is comprised of three sections : a small area north of Pambula; a central section, north of Eden ; and a large area, south of Eden. Here is a map from ‘The NPA Guide to National Parks of Southern NSW’ by Peter Wright.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2016-07-09 10.48.16 First gazetted in 1971, it was named after Benjamin Boyd, a larger-than-life, boom-and-bust entrepreneur of the Alan Bond variety, whose financial empire collapsed after only 7 years. Given that the local aborigines had inhabited this area successfully for over 3000 years, we feel an aboriginal name might have been more appropriate!

Ben Boyd National Park is significant for its old growth forests; extensive heath land; estuarine and freshwater wetlands; dune ecosystems; a large number of threatened native animal species and biogeographically significant plant species; aboriginal sites; and historical structures associated with whaling and lighthouses, including Boyd’s Tower, Green Cape Light Station and the ruins at Bittangabee Bay.

Ben Boyd National Park is a geologist’s heaven with two geological zones: sedimentary base rock in the north and middle section and much older metamorphic rock in the southern section.  The northern part of the park covers the southern section of the Merimbula Bay barrier dunes, which began accumulating 7000-8000 years ago and stabilized in their current form 5000 years ago. They are one of only four major stationary barriers in Southern New South Wales.

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Layers of sedimentary rock, Green Cape
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North Head
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Terrace Beach
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Quondolo Point
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Salt Water Creek

The southern section has some of the oldest rocks on the NSW coast, with more than 80 percent of the Upper Devonian rocks exposed along the coast of South-Eastern Australia found in Ben Boyd National Park. During the Devonian Period, sediments similar to those in the northern section of the park, were laid down in estuaries and were later compressed, heated, folded and twisted into arches and curves. The soft sediments hardened and formed new types of rocks : brown and green shales, sandstones, red siltstones, conglomerates and quartzites. These metamorphic rocks of the Devonian Merimbula group are exposed along the cliffs and coastal headlands north to Terrace Beach and west from Haycock Point along the Pambula Estuary. There are only small areas of Tertiary deposits in the Southern section of the park. Red Point below Boyd’s Tower (photos 1-3) and the rock platform, south of Saltwater Creek (photo 7), are excellent examples of heavily folded metamorphic beds.BlogBenBoydNP75%ReszdIMG_5615BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5618BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5617

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Cliffs to south of Red Point
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Leatherjacket Bay, looking north
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Southern end of Saltwater Creek
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Southern end of Terrace Beach
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North Head

During the Devonian period (345-410 Million years ago), forests did not exist, though a few land plants grew in local swamps and primitive fish swam in nearby seas. During this time, the drying out of one of the floodplains trapped a school of fish in mud, forming Devonian fish fossils. These extinct species include a plate covered fish and a previously unknown species of air-breathing lobe-finned bony fish, measuring up to 1.5metres long. Younger and softer Tertiary deposits of sands, gravels, clays, ironstones and quartzites lie on top of the Devonian strata in the central section of the park, as seen in the sandy ridges of Long Beach.

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Terrace Beach
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Terrace Beach
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Barmouth Beach
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Barmouth Beach

The Pinnacles are an erosion feature formed in the finely-mottled well-lateritized Pinnacle Lens of the Quondolo Formation with cliffs of soft white sand, capped with a layer of red gravelly clay, which was laid down in the Tertiary Period, which started more than 60 Million years ago.

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The Pinnacles

Below are more photos of the erosion process.

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Rock bridge/ arch forming, Quondolo Point
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North Head
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North Head

The sandy soils support a wide variety of coastal habitats from open forest and woodland; dune dry scrub forest; small pockets of warm temperate rainforest; closed heath land and scrub land;  estuarine and floodplain wetlands; and perched swamps.

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Flowering gums, The Pinnacles

In the central section of the park, Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) grow on the Devonian strata, as well as Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda), Brown Stringbark (E. baxteri), Mountain Grey Gum (E. cypellocarpa), Coast Grey Box (E. bosistoana), Swamp Gum (E. ovata), Ironbark (E. tricarpa), Manna Gum (E. viminalis) and Woollybutt (E. longifolia), with an understorey of Black Sheoak, Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Tea-tree, Port Jackson Pine, Black Wattle, Coast Banksia and Grass Tree. Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi) predominates in the south.

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Native Pea at Green Cape
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Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium punctatum on the road to North Head, December
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North Head

The Dune Dry Scrub Forests of the northern section include Red Bloodwood; Blackbutt; Woollybutt and Forest Red Gum. Moist gullies, next to Disaster Bay, support Warm Temperate patches of rainforest species including Lillypilly, Sassafras, Scentless Rosewood, Cabbage Tree, Smooth Mock Olive, Sweet Pittosporum, Bolwarra, Sandpaper Fig, Muttonwood, Smilax vines and tree ferns.

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Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata at Lennards Island
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Needlewood Hakea macreana at The Pinnacles
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Leatherjacket Bay

The closed heath land on the headlands and cliff lines, typified by the vegetation at Green Cape, includes Dwarf Sheoak, Silky Hakea, Coast Westringia, Common Heath, Coral Heath, White Kunzea, Daphne Heath, Native Fuchsia, Boronias, Croweas and Hibbertias. The heathland is significant, not only because of its restricted distribution, but also because it provides important habitat for threatened species like the vulnerable Striated Field Wren.

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Red Common Heath Epacris impressa at Green Cape
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Correa reflexa at Boyd Tower
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Pimelea linifolia and Red Common Heath Epacris impressa at Boyd Tower
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Pink Common Heath Epacris impressa at Pulpit Rock
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Native Iris Patersonia sericea at Pulpit Rock

Closer to the coast, the closed scrubland/ woodland includes Giant Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca armillaris), Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Banksia and Sydney Green Wattle.

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North Head
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Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata at Terrace Beach
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Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia at Haycocks Point
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Golden Wattle Acacia longifolia at Barmouth Beach

The estuarine and floodplains at Pambula are important habitats for salt marsh and mangroves.

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Quondolo Point
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North Head
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Round-Leaved Pigface Diphyma crassifolium at North Head

The perched swamps of Woodburn and Bittangabee Creek support Bauera, Melaleucas, Sprengelias and Mimulus.

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Wind-swept Bracelet Honey-Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris at Terrace Beach
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Bracelet Honey-Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris at Lennards Island
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Prickly Moses Acacia ulicifolia at Barmouth Beach
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Flax Wattle Acacia linifolia at Barmouth Beach
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Thyme Pink Bells Tetratheca thymifolia at Lennards Island

Ben Boyd National Park is also significant, because it contains plants at the limit of their natural distribution. For example, it is the southernmost limit of Blackbutt (middle section of park and on track to the Pinnacles) and Plum Pine and the northernmost limit of Brown Stringybark and Furze Hakea.

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Mushroom in the sand, Haycocks Point
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Red Point
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North Head
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Lennards Island
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North Head

The wide variety of habitats are home to 150 species of birds, of which 48 species are water birds; 50 native mammals; 15 reptile species and 2 frog species.

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Goanna, Bittangabee Bay
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Hiding, Lennards Island
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Echidna, Lennards Island
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Wombat hole, Green Cape

These include :

1 critically endangered bird species : the Hooded Plover (only 50 left in NSW);

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Seabird trails, Haycocks Point
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Sea Eagle, Green Cape
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Peregrine Falcon, North Head
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Pied Oyster Catchers, Pambula River
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Sooty Oyster Catchers, North Head
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Sooty Oyster Catcher, Barmouth Beach
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Silver Gull, Severs Beach
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Pelicans, Quarantine Bay

BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-12 12.38.25BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-12 12.38.054 endangered animal species : Southern Brown Bandicoot: important for the dispersal of fungi; green and Golden Bell Frog; Regent Honeyeater and Gould’s Petrel.

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Welcome Swallow, North Head
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Wrens on Rixon’s Beach
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Eastern Yellow Robin, Salt Water Creek
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Wonga Pidgeon, Whale Beach
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Currawong and female Bowerbird, Tryworks, Davidson Whaling Station
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Little Wattlebird, Haycocks Point
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Gang-Gang Feast on Hawthorne berries, Panboola, Pambula

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The Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo feeds on the seeds of Casuarinas and Plantation Pines, Boyds Tower
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Superb Lyrebird, Bittangabee Bay

25 vulnerable species including the Ground Parrot and Striated Field Wren of the coastal heathlands; the Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl and Masked Owl and Yellow-Bellied Gliders of the tall open forest; Glossy Black Cockatoos; Tiger Quolls, Koalas, Long-nosed Potoroos and White-footed Dunnarts; Pied and Sooty Oyster Catchers; and Providence Petrels and Wandering Albatrosses.

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Swamp Wallaby, Bittangabee Bay
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Roos fighting, Pambula Beach

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos sunbaking at Haycocks Point
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Chez Roo, Pambula Beach

The sea life is amazingly abundant too.

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The littoral zone, Quondolo Point
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Cunjevoi, North Head
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Sea Tulips, Terrace Beach
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Kelp, North Head
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Hungry Ray, Quarantine Bay
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Fisherman’s friend, Quarantine Bay
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Patiently waiting for dinner, Quarantine Bay
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How could you resist?! Quarantine Bay

There are also a significant number of feral weeds and pests including: pine trees; bitou bush; blackberry; bridal creeper; sea spurge; wild dogs; foxes; deer; rabbits and cats (especially round the Eden tip, which is the gateway to Terrace Beach, Lennards Island and North Head). The pines are remnants of Forestry plantations from the 1940s.

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Feral arum lilies, Severs Beach
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Feral pine trees and white pipe clay  used for white ochre by local aborigines, The Pinnacles

Ben Boyd National Park has a long history of aboriginal occupation with more than 50 sites, most of which are on headlands, including middens and artefact scatters, campsites and rock shelters, scarred trees, stone arrangements and possible axe grinding grooves. In South Eastern New South Wales, there were 2 aboriginal nations, the Monaroo and the Yuin, and within these 2 nations were a number of tribes and language groups. The aborigines of Twofold Bay, the South Coast and the South Monaro Tablelands included the Dhurga; Dyirringan; Bidawal; Dthawa; Maneroo; Kudingal and Ngarigo language groups and clans. There were well-established trade routes for trade and exchange of white pipe clay used for white ochre, quartz crystals and twine, and large groups would congregate for celebrations and the exchange of marriage partners.

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Midden, Severs Beach
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Oysters in the shallows, Severs Beach

At Severs Beach on Pambula River, there is an occupation site dating back 3000 years and there are a number of middens on the headlands and banks of estuaries, including Lennards Island, Haycock Point, Pambula Estuary and Severs Beach.

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Midden on north bank, Pambula River
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Oysters on rocks, Pambula River

The middens are basically giant rubbish heaps and contain :

: the shells of oysters and mussels, collected from the rock platforms, reefs and estuaries;

: fish bones. Fish were baited with pieces of crayfish, sea eggs or cunjevoi or stunned by biodegradable poisons, then caught with spears, grass nets and fish traps;

: the bones of sea mammals. From 2300 years ago, increasing population and pressure on fish resources led to the expansion of dietary resources from fish to marine species, enabled by the use of canoes;

: the bones of kangaroos and wallabies; potoroos and bandicoots and possums and gliders;

: charcoal;  and

: bone tools and artefacts : cores, flakes and resharpening fragments.

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Midden, Lennards Island

The midden near Boyds Tower was used as a source of lime in the construction of the tower. An Aboriginal Cultural Camp has been established at Haycocks Point. The photos below show dolphins surfing at Aslings Beach, Eden.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-12 13.27.30BlogBenBoydNP60%Reszd2015-06-12 13.27.30 - CopyBlogBenBoydNP75%Reszd2015-06-12 13.26.18 - CopyAborigines played a major part in the early whaling history of Twofold Bay, working for the Imlay, Boyd and Davidson families. The men crewed whale boats for rations, tobacco and whale products, while some of the women worked as servants in the houses of the whaling families.The aborigines had a unique relationship with a pack of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), who returned to their base in Leatherjacket Bay every June to November between 1843 and the 1930s to hunt for migrating whales, including Finback, Right Whales and Humpbacks. Every June, whales migrate north to the tropics to give birth and in Spring, return back south to their Summer feeding waters in the  Antarctic. Up to 36 orcas would split into 3 packs and herd whales into Twofold Bay. Their leader, Old Tom, whose skeleton can be seen in the Killer Whale Museum in Eden, would swim to Kiah Inlet, where he would leap out of the water and splash to alert the whalers that a whale was in the bay and then, he would lead them to the whale. After the men had harpooned and killed the whale, its carcass was anchored to the seabed and marked with a buoy and the killer whales would eat the tongue and lips, after which they disappeared to look for more whales.

Twofold Bay is the third deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere and has 6.5 square miles of navigable water with safe anchorages. Captain Thomas Raine opened the first shore-based whaling station here at Snug Cove back in 1828. The Imlay brothers were the first to settle the area in 1834, exporting pigs, sheep, cattle and whaling products from Cattle Bay. By 1840, the Imlay Whaling Station was producing 200 tuns ( 1 tun is equivalent to 252 gallons or 1150 litres) of whale oil from 50-60 whales. The whale oil was used to lubricate engines and for lighting, the clear smokeless flame far superior to that of tallow and far cheaper than beeswax candles. The baleen strainer plates of the upper jaws, used by the whale to sieve plankton and krill, was used to make stays for corsets and hooped skirts. By 1845, up to 27 whaling boats were operating out of Twofold Bay. Competition between rival whaling stations was fierce. The Imlays built an unfinished house at Bittangabee Bay to catch the northbound whales before the crews at Eden, but by 1847, they were bankrupt. This is a photo of an information board at the Killer Whale Museum, Eden. See: http://killerwhalemuseum.com.au/.BlogBenBoydNP25%Reszd2015-05-15 11.17.04Benjamin Boyd, a London stockbroker, arrived in New South Wales in 1842 with the dream of creating his own empire, based on trading, shipping, grazing and whaling. By 1844, he was one of the largest land owners in the colony with huge properties in the Monara and Riverina and a whaling station at East Boyd, managed by artist Oswald Brierly. Boyd established Boydtown as a port to serve his Monaro properties, using coastal steamers to export his cattle, wool, wheat and whaling products.BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5877 At one stage, the depot at Boydtown held 9 ocean-going vessels and 30 whale boats for deep sea and offshore whaling. In 1846, he built a lighthouse at Red Point on the southern shore of Twofold Bay, also known as South Point. Pyrmont sandstone was shipped from Sydney, unloaded at East Boyd and hauled to the building site by bullock teams, where it was worked by master stonemasons into a tower with 5 timber platforms and etched with Boyd’s name on the top. A dispute with the government meant it could not be used as a lighthouse, so the tower became a whale watching lookout. Boyd’s empire collapsed within 7 years and he left Australia, his businesses in liquidation, in 1849. Two tears later, he went ashore at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and was never seen again.BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5608BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5655Alexander Davidson emigrated from Scotland with his wife and 6 children in 1842 and initially worked as a carpenter in Boydtown. In the 1860s, he bought whaling boats and operated a try works at Kiah Inlet.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 12.28.41 The business was continued by son John, then grandson George, who built a cottage with his wife Sara at ‘Loch Garra’ on 17 acres of freehold land on Kiah Inlet in 1896. The family were self-sufficient in fruit, meat, vegetables and dairy products. This is a photo of the National Parks map at Davidson Whaling Station.BlogBenBoydNP40%Reszd2015-03-31 12.41.22BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.40.35BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.09.48 The Davidsons used Boyd’s Tower to watch out for whales. The minute a whale was spotted, a gun was fired and the resultant puff of smoke alerted waiting whalers to launch their boats, then row within 8 metres of the huge beast, which would then be harpooned. At the height of their operations, the Davidson family were catching 10-15 whales each year. In between sightings, life would have been very cold and boring for the watchers and they often whiled away the time with board games like draughts (photo below).

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Boyds Tower from Rotary Lookout, Eden

BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.02.37 The try works below the house was housed in a 10 m shed with cutting tables, brick furnaces, try pots for boiling down the blubber and storage tanks for cooling the whale oil, after which it poured into casks and shipped across the bay to Eden. A capstan was used to winch the whale carcass into position and to remove the blubber as it was cut away with a sharp boat spade. George Davidson continued to use the capstan, even after steam-powered winches became available to whalers, thus preserving the history  and integrity of the 19th Century whaling station. Large flensed blanket strips of blubber were winched up to the try works, then cut into manageable pieces and sliced finely before being dropped into the try pots to boil them down for oil. The blubber scraps were used to fuel the fire. This is a photo of the National Parks information board at the Tryworks at Davidson Whaling Station.BlogBenBoydNP40%Reszd2015-03-31 11.23.23BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.21.19 It was a very smelly business and I wouldn’t have fancied being Sara, looking after all those men! Life was hard and tough in those early days and the Davidsons had their fair share of tragedy. Son Jack (1890-1926) drowned, trying unsuccessfully to save his children Roy (10) and Patricia (3) after their dinghy capsized, though his wife Ann and 8 year old daughter Marion survived. Apparently, a film called ‘The Law of the Tongue’, chronicling this event, is in the offing.

As whale oil was replaced by coal gas lighting, kerosene, mineral oils and electricity and the fashions changed, the demand for and income from whale products decreased dramatically  and by the 1920s, the family had to supplement their earnings from other sources. Only 2 whales were taken in 1925 and the last whale was caught in Twofold Bay in 1929 and the Davidson Whaling Station was closed, thus ending the longest continuously operating whaling station, run by 3 generations of the same family, in Australia. George and Sara moved into Eden in the 1940s, though family members continued on at ‘Loch Garra’. The present garden was established by Dr and Mrs Boyd between 1954 and 1984, then the 6ha property was acquired by the Coastal Council of NSW, before being taken on by National Parks and Wildlife Service as an historic site in 1986. Even though it has a fairly gruesome history, it is well worth visiting ‘Loch Garra’ as an example of early pioneer life in coastal NSW, as well as being an incredibly beautiful spot!BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 12.24.18 Ironically, when my husband was a young schoolboy, he and his classmates were taken on a school trip to see Tangalooma Whaling Station on Moreton Island off Brisbane before it closed in 1962. Little wonder, that he turned into a keen environmentalist! The photo below is the National Parks and Wildlife map of Green Cape Light Station.BlogBenBoydNP50%Reszd2015-03-31 14.57.53BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.50.05The other site of major historical significance in the southern section of Ben Boyd National Park is the 29m high Green Cape Light House, built in 1883. It is a very early example of the use of mass concrete and was the largest mass concrete structure in New South Wales at that time. The lighthouse was designed by Colonial architect, James Barnett, and has an octagonal tower on a square base, corbelling, a domed oil store and a distinctive balcony railing.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.44.57BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.45.51

The light station complex also includes 2 cottages for the Head and Assistant Keeper; several sheds including a generator shed, a former telegraph office and a signal flag locker; a quarry; a garden/ tip site  and old stables, later used as a workshop and garage.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.43.13 Nearby is the Cemetery, housing bodies from the Ly-ee-Moon shipwreck in 1886. The steamer struck an offshore reef on its journey from Melbourne to Sydney and only 15 of the 86 people on board survived.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.42.07The lighthouse was manned all night, every night in four-hour shifts from 1883-1992, after which it was replaced by an automated light tower (now powered by solar panels). The National Parks and Wildlife Service took over management of the historic site in 1997 and now rent out the cottages for holidays. It would be lovely to stay there for a few days to enjoy all the natural history and atmosphere of the place.

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Heathland Green Cape
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Rock platform Green Cape

It is a wonderful spot for whale and dolphin watching, October and November being the best months to see Southern Right and Humpback whales, as well as observing the annual migration of Short-Tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus tenuirostris, which travel from the Northern Hemisphere to their breeding burrows on islands in Southern waters from late September to early November. I remember watching this spectacle from Coffs Harbour years ago – there was a long, low, endless black cloud of migrating birds. Other birds of note seen at Green Cape include the Yellow-Nosed Albatross (late Winter/ Early Spring), gannets and the Southern Emu-Wren, which loves to hide in the coastal heath.

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Windswept Green Cape looking out to sea.
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Green Cape

I remember visiting Green Cape one day and seeing what appeared to be the burnt-out broken carcass of a rowboat off-shore… except, it kept moving! On careful inspection through the binoculars, we discovered it was in fact a ring of bachelor Fur Seals, Arctocephalus pusillus, who commonly exhibit this behaviour!BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-28 13.24.02The lighthouse is now the bottom end of the 31km Light to Light walk, which starts at Boyd’s Tower and takes 3 days to complete. There are camping grounds along the way at Salt Water Creek (14 sites)and Bittangabee Bay (30 sites) and it is also possibly to drive into these spots. Here is a photo of a map of the Light to Light Walk, taken from an information board at Green Cape. BlogBenBoydNP30%Reszd2015-06-28 13.01.23 Next week, I will post a photo essay on Ben Boyd National Park, with a few brief notes about all the wonderful spots to explore, but in the mean time, more information can be found at : http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20100979BenBoydBellBirdCreek.pdf

P.S. The feature photo is Terrace Beach, one of our favourite spots!

Favourite Gardens Regularly Open to the Public : Sculpture Gardens

I love sculpture in the garden! There is something about sculpture, which lends itself to open spaces. Perhaps, it is the form and texture, especially when made of natural materials like wood and stone, that blends in so well with the natural landscape.

While they are perfect as focal points in the garden, directing the eye and enhancing corners, I also love visiting gardens which are totally devoted to sculptures – for example, the McClelland Sculpture Gallery, Victoria, and Fleurty’s Café, Tasmania, as well as sculpture shows like Lorne and Bermagui. This lovely bronze sculpture, ‘First Flight’ by Albert Bruce Joy (1842-1924), provides a focal point in the garden of Overbecks Museum in Salcombe, Devon.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (150)Sculptures can be made of a wide variety of materials from natural wood and stone to the traditional bronze, iron and other metals; brightly coloured plastics; and recycled machinery parts or just plain junk! They can be monochrome or brightly coloured; static or moving; enormous or tiny; and private or public. It is fascinating seeing what can be created, especially with recycled material,  and can provide much amusement, as well as appreciation.BlogSculpture20%Reszd2016-05-21 11.51.40BlogSculpture20%ReszdIMG_0599BlogSculpture20%Reszd2016-05-21 11.49.29BlogSculpture20%Reszd2016-05-22 11.49.33BlogSculpture20%ReszdIMG_0601In this post, I will be exploring a wide variety of ‘sculpture gardens’, from their use as focal decorative points of the garden, as well as functional use, to collective sculpture gardens, walks and shows; and from traditional forms to more contemporary modern applications. I will also feature a few sculptors as well. It is also worth revisiting some of my older posts, which have featured other sculpture gardens like Heide; Werribee and Carrick Hill. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/02/09/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-historic-homes-and-gardens/ .

Yengo , 8 Queens Avenue, Mt. Wilson, NSW

Open daily during Spring (October/November) and Autumn (April/May), otherwise weekends 10am-6pm or by appointment

$10 adults; $8 Seniors and $3 for children

I will start with Yengo in Mt. Wilson, a garden, which epitomizes the use of traditional bronze sculptures in the garden as focal points, as well as for just sheer beauty. The property was first bought by Jesse Gregson in 1877 and he spent the next 2 years building a stone house and developing an alpine  garden with the help of the Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, Charles Moore, and the government botanist, Joseph Henry Maiden. The house and garden have been restored by the owners, Peter and Ann Piggot, whom we met on our visit to Mt Wilson, back in 1998.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (149)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (147)It is a beautiful garden with some very old evergreen trees, planted in 1880, including several Himalayan Deodars; Western Red Cedars from America; a Sequoia; a Cedar of Lebanon and a Spanish Cork.  There are also some beautiful deciduous trees, including Dogwoods and over 60 varieties of Japanese Maples; tall old tree ferns; banks of rhododendrons and azaleas and drifts of bluebells in Spring; mature wisteria and clematis; a walled garden and many beautiful ponds and water features.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (148)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (144) The garden is enhanced by and showcases some very beautiful, traditional bronze sculptures, made by English-based sculptors Lloyd le Blanc (animals : eg gazelles; a brolga fountain and a lyrebird) and Judith Holmes Drewry (portraits and the female form).

BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (139)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (122) Many of the scupltures are for sale and range in price from $1700 to $50,000. They also have their own sculpture garden and gallery at: http://www.leblancfineart.com/judith-holmes-drewry/bronze-sculpture-of-figures-life-size/index.html.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (141)

Gourmet chef and hotelier, Raymond  Blanc, of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons , Great Milton, Oxfordshire, UK  (http://www.raymondblanc.com/restaurants-cookery-school/le-manoir-aux-quatsaisons/) also loves their work, which you can see at: http://www.leblancfineart.com/le-manoir-aux-quat-saisons.html.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (145)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (146) Unfortunately, Judith is no longer with us, but you can learn more about Lloyd on : http://www.meltontimes.co.uk/news/local/meet-the-artist-behind-melton-s-sculpture-project-1-4340914.

Peacocks wander round the garden- very beautiful and stately, though I know from experience, my parents having kept peacocks when I was a child, that they are probably not the best stewards for a garden!BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (140)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (143)

Yengo was also the first endangered species reserve in Australia, having provided sanctuary for the rare Parma Wallaby since 1969. These dear little animals were reintroduced to the mainland after their numbers were decimated by feral cats and foxes.See:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parma_wallaby   and   http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Macropus_parma/.

For a visual tour of the garden, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DiL2YOt2w0.

Carl Merten and Joan Relke, Chinook , NSW

Another wonderful sculptor couple, who we were lucky enough to meet, are Carl Merten and Joan Relke (http://sculptors.net.au/). My friend, Liz, introduced us to Carl and Joan, when we were looking for an interesting work experience for our daughter Jen, when she was in Grade 10. They were so generous with both their knowledge and time and it was a wonderful experience for her. Carl and Joan lead busy lives working on commissions and exhibitions, as well as teaching workshops. Their major commissions are made of stainless steel, cast bronze, cast aluminium, and stone and grace many of Australia’s public parks and buildings, while their medium sized works in bronze, stone, stainless steel, and ceramics decorate the offices, homes, and gardens of corporate and private collectors.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (126)

Carl, who originally trained as a silversmith with his identical twin brother, Rex Steele Merten (http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/one-of-the-only-ways-to-tell-the-merten-twins-apar/2137968/), is famous for his  public monumental work, including figurative bronze sculptures of famous Australians or as he puts it : ‘dead white males’, like famous Australian explorers and the coal miners, who lost their lives in Cessnock. He also creates dancing figures and musical and natural forms. See: http://newengland.focusmag.com.au/carl-merten-local-artist/. BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (120)
Joan creates beautiful goddesses – most of her work is inspired by female imagery and mythological themes. She also explores zen concepts in the form of miniature zen gardens. I first saw her work at McGrath’s garden in Uralla- see photo above.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (125)

Carl and Joan have been partners for over 30 years, and while they each have their individual style, they have worked together on some projects like their sculptures in Uralla, NSW, based on the circumpolar constellations of the Southern Hemisphere : Carl’s Carina (photo above) and Joan’s Spirit of the Southern Cross (photo below).BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (124)

They were working on this project during Jen’s work experience. We thanked them for their kindness with a sculptural carrot cake, commemorating their work at Uralla!BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (118)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (121)William Ricketts Sanctuary, Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Mt Dandenong, VIC

http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/william-ricketts-sanctuary-gardens-of-the-dandenongs  and  http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/315820/Park-note-William-Ricketts-Sanctuary.pdf

10am-4.30pm daily, except Christmas Day and Total Fire Ban days. Free.

William Ricketts Sanctuary is a very famous old sculpture garden, set in the beautiful Mountain Ash forests and ferny glades of Mt Dandenong, 1 hour east of Melbourne.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (131)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (130)William Ricketts (1898-1993) was also apprenticed to a jeweller, aged 14 years old, but he enjoyed modelling with clay. He settled in the area in 1934, initially renting the property, but then purchasing the freehold title in 1941. At that stage, the property was heavily deforested and William was keen to let the block regenerate naturally. He was a keen environmentalist and naturalist and was appalled by the mass destruction of the environment and natural habitats, as he believed that the natural environment is entrusted to all of us and that by nurturing the earth, we nurture life itself.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (132)BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (133) He also had a deep love and respect for Australian aborigines, having spent many months between 1949 and 1960 living and learning from the Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal communities in Central Australia. Their tradition and culture inspired him to create a permanent sculpture gallery, devoted to the Australian Aborigine and all Australians.

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Originally called ‘Potter’s Sanctuary’, it was opened to the public in 1942. The collection includes 92 ceramic sculptures of people and animals. The kiln-fired clay was fired to 100 degrees Celsius and then set into the environment.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (123)

The Victorian Government bought the property from William Ricketts in 1961. Extra additions by the Forest Commission increased the property to its present 15 hectares. It was renamed ‘William Ricketts Sanctuary’ and officially opened in 1962. In 1981, it was classified by the National Trust as a site of local significance. It has significant cultural value, as the outdoor sculptures are components of an overall theme. They bear testimony to the vision and dedication of Ricketts’ campaign for understanding and respect for indigenous Australians and the environment.BlogSculpture50%ReszdImage (138)

Dromkeen, 1012 Gisborne-Kilmore Rd, Riddells Creek, VIC

http://www.dromkeen.com.au/  and http://www.slav.vic.edu.au/synergy/volume-10-number-1-2012/perspectives-local-/227-dromkeen-national-centre-for-picture-book-art

Thursday-Saturday 10am-4pm. Free.

Another garden, which contained sculptures based on a theme, was Dromkeen, the home of Children’s Literature, but unfortunately you can no longer see these sculptures in their original setting.BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 954BlogSculpture25%Reszdmelbourne spring 191Dromkeen Homestead was originally built in 1889 as the country estate of Victorian Supreme Court Judge, Arthur Chomley, and was named after his mother’s family home in Dromkeen, County Limerick, Ireland. In 1973, Joyce and Courtney Oldmeadow used the homestead as a private residence and educational bookshop with public displays of original artworks and manuscripts from Australian Children’s picture books. Over the years, it became known as the home of Australian Children’s Literature. It was purchased by Scholastic Australia in 1985 and they continued to maintain the Dromkeen Collection, until it was moved to the State Library in 2012. The collection contains 7500 original illustrations, including sketches, preliminary artwork, diagrams and mock-ups; a historic book collection; the Dromkeen archive and the 6 Bronze sculptures of Australian picture-book characters, which used to grace the gardens. See: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/about-dromkeen.BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 951BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 959

We were very lucky to be able to visit it twice during our sojourn in Victoria and I was very saddened to see For Sale signs outside the old home and equally elated, on doing research for this post, to discover that Dromkeen had reopened as a centre for children’s literature. Purchased by the Joiner family in 2013, it once again hosts school and tertiary programs; writing camps; holiday literary programs; and on 19th March 2016, the Dromkeen Literary Festival, a full day of talks and readings by children’s authors and illustrators; book signings and sales; and book-related activities in the garden, including storybook craft; book mural art; cartoons; puppetry; dragons and airbrush; and face painting. See: http://www.dromkeen.com.au/litfest/.BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 942BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 953There is a tearoom and café, as well as a separate function centre for conferences, business seminars, professional development, children’s birthday parties and even art classes. The garden is available for weddings and photography shoots.BlogSculpture50%Reszdaug 2010 940Then there are the sculptures made from less traditional materials or more contemporary in approach :

Daniel Jenkins, 10 Coolavin Rd, Metung, VIC

http://www.danieljenkins.com.au/  and  https://www.facebook.com/pages/daniel-jenkins-studios-metung/119793984731872

We also feel very fortunate to have visited Daniel Jenkins’ studio and gardens when we did in 2007, as they too are no longer open to the public, unless by private appointment. I love the whimsical nature of his works and his sense of fun!BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3474BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3485Daniel was born in Kansas, USA, in 1947 and came to Australia in 1981. Like William Ricketts and Carl Merten, he is also a jeweller and silversmith by trade. He studied extensively in Europe, including visiting Venice as part of the Palladio Foundation scholarship, where he learned the technique of repoussé, where metal is beaten from the inside to give shape and relief to the design.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3464BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3480

His Meme series and taller Wobe series are marquettes with androgenous bodies and fixed or moveable heads. They are made of hollow form copper, which has been repousséd and patinated, a technique which is safe for the birds and lasts a long time.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3462 He also makes figurative and interpretive work, ladder forms and urns and bottles.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3473

His Lulu birds and animal-like weather vanes are also great fun. BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3476BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3475

He also loves creating kinetic works, which turn in the wind.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3472BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3483BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3486BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3484His work can be seen high up in the air above the Bourke Street Mall in Swanston Street, Melbourne. Each of the weather vanes is in the shape of an animal, symbolizing the various aspects of the city : a horse (sport and culture) ; bird (the city’s parks and gardens) ; fish (the waterways of Melbourne); and pig (the city’s hopes and future : pigs can fly). It was commissioned by the City of Melbourne and unveiled in March 1993.  See: http://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM02126b.htm. He also had an exhibition at my favourite Cloudehille Gardens in 2011.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3592Kate Shone is another sculptor in the Gippsland area, who makes whimsical sculptures out of recycled junk. Unfortunately, we never managed a visit, as she was closed both times we passed through, but we will get there one day. See her work at: http://www.junkyarddoll.com.au/. We did however see her insects (photo above) at the open house at The Long Now, Nowa Nowa in 2007! See: http://creative.vic.gov.au/Arts_in_Victoria/Features/Feature_Stories/Nowa_Nowa_Open_for_Inspection.BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3554BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3555BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3601There are also a number of outdoor sculpture in the park below the house along the river.

BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3552BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3551BlogSculpture30%ReszdDSCF3547Possum Gully Fine Arts, 428 Possum Gully Rd. , Adelaide Lead, VIC

The signposted turn-off is 4km from Maryborough, en route to Avoca, via the Pyrenees Highway.

Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays, 11am-5pm

http://www.possumgullyfinearts.com.au/ http://www.possumgullyfinearts.com.au/index.php/component/content/article/2-uncategorised/8-media  and  http://www.visitmaryborough.com.au/arts-culture-heritage/possum-gully-road-gallery.