History Books : Part Two : Australian Prehistory

In my last post, I discussed some of my favourite general books on archaeology and the prehistory of mankind. Today, I am focusing on Australian Prehistory, beginning with three books by the celebrated paleobotanist, Mary E White. The Greening of Gondwana and After the Greening are the first two books of her trilogy on the evolution of Australia, the continent and its biota, over 400 million years, the third volume being Listen.. Our Land is Crying. They are all beautiful hardback publications with luscious glossy photographs by Jim Frazier! I am only discussing the first two, as those are the books we own.

The Greening of Gondwana by Mary E White  Third Edition 1998

This book tells the story of Australia’s floral heritage from the earliest times, when all life was aquatic; the emergence of the first land plants, 400 million years ago; and the evolution of Australia’s modern flora and the Gondwanan broad-leaf conifer forests, when Australia finally separated from Antarctica 45 million years ago and moved northward.

There are over 400 wonderful photographs of fossils and living plants, as well as palaeographic maps, artist’s drawings and diagram and tables (Geological eras; Linnaean plant classification; Evolution of the plant kingdom; Australia’s fossil pollen record; and Fossil age and locality).

Part One starts with a description of the rocks of the earth’s crust; the dawn of life; the first unicellular life forms: the Western Australian stromatolites (fossil reefs of cyanobacteria, 3 500 million years old) and unicellular algae; and the formation of plant fossils (macro-fossils and microscopic spores and pollen).

The book then goes on to discuss the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics; Australia’s Gondwanan heritage; and the evolution of an Australian flora from the ancestral Gondwanan flora, which developed in isolation for 30 million years without any significant input from migrants, despite Australia’s proximity to South-East Asia.

While Eucalypts and Acacias predominate, 80 per cent of all the plant species and 30 per cent of Australia’s genera are endemic, accounting for the distinctive Australian character of the flora: its leathery, hard, spiny or reduced leaves, an adaptation to the low nutrient status of the Australian soils and the dry arid conditions called scleromorphy, these plants being called sclerophylls.

Australian plants also have many adaptations to fire: thick insulating protective bark or the shedding of outer layers of bark, so there is no build up of inflammable matter; new buds produced along the length of the stem after fire has destroyed the crown of the tree and underground lignotubers; and hard woody fruits and seeds, which can survive intense heat and often need the stimulus of fire to burst open and start to grow.

Part Two examines Australia’s fossil record in detail:

Life in the early seas (Cambrian, Ordovician and Early to Mid Silurian times);

First land plants of the Late Silurian and Early Devonian periods;

Giant club mosses of the Late Devonian and early Carboniferous periods;

Primitive seed ferns of the mid to late Carboniferous and early Permian years;

Glossopteris flora of the Permian period, when cool temperate swamps formed the early coal deposits and early gingkos, cycad ancestors, conifers and tree ferns were abundant;

Dicroidium flora of the Triassic period;

Age of the Conifers and the cycads of the Jurassic period;

Dawn of the Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants) in the Cretaceous Era;   and

The sequence of events in the Gondwanan breakup and its effect on the flora.

Australia became an ark with a living cargo of Gondwanan plants (predominated by flowering plants) and animals (marsupials, monotremes, large monitors, penguins and emus, parrots and frogmouths, pollinating honeyeaters, Southern Frogs and Side-Necked Turtles) during the Tertiary period, moving northward and having no outside contact for 30 million years.

Specific families are discussed in the book:

Antarctic Beeches Fagaceae (genus Nothofagus);

Winteraceae, one of the most primitive angiosperm families alive today, which includes native pepper Tasmannia;

Proteaceae (Banksia, Proteas and Leucospermum, Persoonia, Telopea, and Macadamia);

Casuarinaceae (She-oaks, Desert Oaks and River-Oaks);

Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Leptospermums, Baeckea, Syzgium and Angophoras);

Salt bushes Chenopodiaceae;

Mistletoes Loranthaceae; and

Wattles of Mimosaceae (genus Acacia).

The final chapters discuss Australia’s modern flora from the Quarternary period on, including vegetation types and a map (alpine, rainforest, wet sclerophyll, dry sclerophyll, woodlands, mallee woodlands and scrub, mulga scrub, desert and semi-desert, salt-bush scrub, grasslands and mangroves), as well as a brief mention of the intrusion of northern plants and animals, which came with man, especially after European colonization.BlogPreHxBooksReszd20%Image (591)

After the Greening: The Browning of Australia  by Mary E White 1994

This book continues the story of Australia’s prehistory and the geological processes behind the rifting (160 to 45 million years ago), drifting (15 to 2.4 million years ago) and drying (2.4 million years ago to today) of the continent to become the driest vegetated continent on Earth.

Two thirds of the land is classed as arid and half is desert, yet it supports an amazing variety of desert-adapted fauna and flora. The last 2.4 million years are particularly significant, as they represent the Age of Man and a time when icecaps had a profound effect on the physical landscapes, climate and biota of Australia.

Aboriginal Australians arrived around 60 000 year ago, but the most dramatic changes have occurred over the past 200 years since European settlement, completely unbalancing our delicate ecological balance through grazing; clearing; and the introduction of feral rabbits, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, buffalo, camels, cats and foxes, not to mention garden escapees and weeds.

The formation of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s river system, the Murray Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, Nullabor Desert, Ayers Rock and the Olgas is covered, along with the adaptation of Australian flora to the changing climate; ancient weathered soils; droughts and flooding rain; fire; and salt.

The last part of the book discusses Australia’s vegetation regions in detail, as well as future challenges. Again, there is so much information, supported by beautiful colour photographs, maps, tables and diagrams.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (590)

The final book in the trilogy: Listen.. Our Land is Crying examines Australia’s environmental problems: land and water degradation, increased salinisation and desertification, decreasing biodiversity and habitat destruction, water pollution, the greenhouse effect and feral weeds and animals, suggesting possible solutions and highlighting the amazing unique wonders of our continent. While we don’t own this final book, we do have another of her glossy geological books:

Time in Our Hands : Semi-Precious Gemstones: Keys to the Geological Past by Mary E White 1991, which covers many of her previous topics, but mainly concentrates on the semi-precious gemstones of Lune River, Tasmania: the agates, onyx, carnelian and jasper, all forms of quartz gemstones made from silica dioxide, as well as petrified conifers and tree-ferns.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (592)

Now for some excellent books on aboriginal prehistory!  One of the earliest  books on Aboriginal origins and culture was the first edition of John Mulvaney’s The Prehistory of Australia in 1969, with a second edition in 1975. The following book is the third edition with substantial changes in content, while still retaining the orientation and much of the original structure of the earlier books, when Mulvaney was the sole author. John Mulvaney is one of Australia’s foremost prehistorians and John Kamminga, an expert on Aboriginal stone technology.

Prehistory of Australia by John Mulvaney and Johan Kamminga 1999

A very comprehensive guide to the Australian aborigines and their traditional way of life.

Chapters cover the following topics:

Diversity of surviving traces: Surface artefacts; shell middens; caves and rock shelters; earth mounds; ceremonial mounds and rock arrangements; stone and ochre quarries; rock art sites; stone hunting-hides and bird and fish traps; scarred trees; hatchet-head grinding localities; and human burials;

Dating the past;

Changing Australian landscapes: Topography, climate, vegetation, cleaning the land, fire-stick farming, water resources and carrying capacity of the land;

People, language and society: Population estimates, language groups, social organization, the Dreaming; and culture areas;

Subsistence and reciprocity: Mobility and seasonality; Animal and plant food: bulbs and tubers, starch extraction, seeds and the farming debate; Material culture : travelling light, hunting weapons, skin cloaks, bone and stone implements, and stone hatchets; Reciprocity and cultural diffusion; and Aboriginal trade in pituri and greenstone;

Seafarers from Sundaland (South East Asia and Indonesia) to Sahul (the super-continent of Australia and Papua New Guinea) during the fluctuating sea levels of Pleistocene;

Extinction of the Mega-Fauna;

Initial colonization, migration theories and Pleistocene settlement: Kow Swamp, Lake Mungo and Tasmania;

Conquest of the deserts: Willandra Lakes; Lake Mungo; Menindee Lakes; Lake Eyre; Nullabor caves; the Pilbara region; and Central Australia;

Pleistocene artefacts : Wood, bone, and stone tools;

Holocene stone tool innovations;

Coastal aborigines: Kakadu; Aurukun and Weipa; South-East Queensland; Sydney; South Coast of NSW; and South-Western Australia;

Regional challenges and responses: The Snowy Mountains; Murray River societies; the arid zones; trade and exchange networks; and technological developments;

Island settlement of the offshore islands and Tasmania;  and a major section on

Rock Art:

  • Panaramitee style of engraving from western NSW to Eastern South Australia and northwards to Alice Springs;
  • Simple figurative motifs of South-eastern Australia: Simple outlines or stick figures with solid or linear infills and simple geometric designs and stencilling                     eg the Southern Highlands and the Grampians;
  • Engravings and pigment art of the Sydney region;
  • Art of Tropical Australia:

1. South-East Cape York: Laura: Quinkan country and Jowalbinna: engravings and painted figurative and non-figurative art; and Koolburra Plateau;

2. Kakadu National Park: Succession of styles and X-ray painting;

3. The Pilbara: Burrup Peninsula engravings;

4. Victoria River District;

5. Kimberley region: Bradshaw figures and Wandjina paintings;

6. Asian and European Newcomers: the Trepang industry; Macassan sites; Chinese and Arab traders; and the Portuguese and Dutch explorers;

This book is an indispensable guide to aboriginal prehistory, especially if travelling around Australia, which we did in 2008!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (614)

We found the next set of books by Josephine Flood, another prominent archaeologist, very useful in our travels as well:

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People  by Josephine Flood 2006

This book tells the story of Australian Aboriginal history and culture from their distant beginnings to the present day. She writes for the general public and uses history and culture to answer some of the major questions about the genetic origins of the First Australians; their lifestyle, culture, religion and beliefs; their impact on the megafauna and the Australian environment; and modern problems, including the stolen generation; land rights; the challenges of contemporary aboriginal communities (lower mortality, poverty, poor health, education, alcoholism and drugs etc) and future directions.

Chapters cover:

European discovery of Australia and encounters between the aborigines and Dutch explorers, Macassan traders and Captain Cook;

European colonization and its impact on the original inhabitants, including disease, kidnapping, the treatment of women, confrontation and conflict and severe depopulation between 1820 and 1920;

Indigenous life at first contact: Spirituality; totemism and animism; the Dreaming; Songlines; oral traditions; language (of which there were 250 different language groups); medicine men and women healers; shamans and sorcerers; childhood; initiation ceremonies; marriage and sex; other ceremonies, burials and fertility cults; the wisdom of the elders; law and order; and economy and exchange networks;

Aboriginal origins over the past 50 000 years: Physical characteristics; patterns of settlement; climate change; environmental impacts: the extinction of megafauna and use of the firestick; new technologies and diets; rock art; and language; and

Assimilation and modern day problems and challenges.

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Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People by Josephine Flood 1995

This book covers many of the above topics.

Part One examines stone and bone tools; the first boat people; routes to Australia; migration; life and death at Lake Mungo; the Australoids of Keilor, Kow Swamp and Willandra Lakes; genetic evidence; the peopling of Australia; early sites throughout Australia; Pleistocene rock art: petroglyphs (engravings) and rock paintings, with a discussion of all the major art sites in Australia; and the extinction of megafauna.

Part Two looks at climate changes and rising sea levels; the arrival of the dingo; food resources: Bogong moths; yams; eels and fish traps; processing toxic cycads; and aboriginal trade, religion and art over the past 1000 years.

At the back is a reference list of all the different Pleistocene artefacts, their location and dates.

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The Riches of Ancient Australia: An Indispensable Guide for Exploring Prehistoric Australia by Josephine Flood 1990

This book certainly lived up to the claim of its subtitle, especially on our 2008 travels around Australia, although we discovered that many of the sites described were no longer accessible to the public, due to cultural sensitivities, and many had a policy of ‘No Photography’. After a brief introduction to Australian prehistory over the last 60 000 years and a discussion of Australian rock art, each state is explored in detail.

We used this book at the following places:

Queensland :

1.Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints

2.Cape York:

Quinkan country at Laura:

The Gugu Yalangi Galleries;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4742BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4828BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4814 Split Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5029 Giant Horse site and Mushroom Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5068BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5069BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4993 and

Jowalbinna.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4567BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_45613. Riversleigh megafauna

Northern Territory

1.Kakadu National Park:

Anbangbang Gallery;

Nourlangie Rock;

Nanguluwur (Xray style); and

Ubirr;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5409BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_50872.Victoria River District

Western Australia

1.Chamberlain Gorge, El Questro

2.King George River and Mitchell Falls, Kimberley Plateau:

Gwion Gwion figures 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9230 and the more recent Wandjina figures;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_91183.Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek

4.Burrup Peninsula engravings: Over 10 000 engravings of humans, animals and geometric figures up to 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1417

5.Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2249BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2240

South Australia:

Naracoorte Cave megafauna: This is a model of a Diprotodon, the largest marsupial ever!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_8120 Victoria:

1.The Grampians;

2.Condah fish traps

We have also used this book at other times:

Carnarvon Gorge and Kenniff Cave, Mt Moffat, in Queensland; and

Mt Yarrowyck, Armidale;

The Warrumbungles;  and

Bawley Pt, NSW, with its giant shell middens;

and will definitely be consulting it before our trip to Lake Mungo, Willandra Lakes and Menindee Lakes at some stage in the future!

After our big trip around Australia, my appetite for further knowledge whetted by the large amount of rock art seen, we bought the following books:

 Lost World of the Kimberley: Extraordinary Glimpses of Australia’s Ice Age Ancestors by Ian Wilson 2006

We particularly loved the tiny exquisite and ancient Gwion Gwion Figures, also known as Bradshaw Figures, of the Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley area! It was so exciting searching and finding these delightful artworks under rocky overhangs at the King George River area en route to Mitchell Falls. Because we had limited time, we splurged on a helicopter ride out over the stone circles on the plateau (photo below) and north to the sea, where we saw a mother and baby dugong, then followed the King Edward River back past huge salt water crocodiles lazing in the sun and the Lower Falls to the Upper Mitchell Falls, where we disembarked to explore the falls.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9373 Because we had not walked in, we easily lost the track on the way out, circumnavigationg the area and finding ourselves back at the falls, so if we ever returned to explore the Lower Falls (which we would love to do!), I would definitely use a helicopter both ways!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9411 Apparently, there is a huge body of Gwion Gwion artwork at the Lower Falls, where the salt water meets the fresh water! Given that it is probably very unlikely that we will get back there, it is great to have this book! Ian documents the history of the discovery of this amazing artwork and describes the different artistic styles of Kimberley Rock Art:

Archaic Epoch: Cupules; Grooves; and Stencils;

Erudite Epoch:

Bradshaw Figures: Sash Figures; and Tassel Figures;

Clothes Peg Figures: Stick figures; and

Aboriginal Epoch: Clawed Hands; and Wandjina Period.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9470BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9237BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9203He examines the huge range of art sites and paintings, musing on the lifestyles, artefacts and clothing depicted, as well as their origins, not to mention the more enigmatic paintings of reindeer and high-prowed boats, which look very similar to those of the Ancient Egyptians!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (613)

Rock Art of the Kimberley by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally 2007

A record of the proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar back on 10th September 2005, this book contains chapters by different contributors on a wide variety of topics.

The editor, Mike Donaldson, writes an overview of the Kimberley area: its geology, past climate changes and sea level rises; early European discoverers; the different art forms (cupules; engravings; stencils; beeswax figures; stone arrangements and paintings); the materials used (ochres, charcoal and clays); the subject matter (Gwion Gwion and Wandjina figures; animals; and fighting scenes); and finally, the topic of repainting rock art sites, particularly pertinent to the Wandjina art work.

The latter is further discussed by Donny Woolagoodja, a Worrorra elder and artist, while Denis Callaghan discusses the natural deterioration of rock art sites and Ian Crawford describes the 1960s field work on Wandjina art.

Jim Ross examines evolution and genetics, the migration of the original aboriginal ancestors, climate change, current dispersal theories and the peopling of Australia.

Sue O’Connor describes the different rock art sites and occupation sites in the Kimberley, while David Welch focuses specifically on the Bradshaw Figures.

And finally, Philip Playford explores the aboriginal rock art in the limestone ranges of the West Kimberley: Geike Gorge, Wandjina Gorge; and Tunnel Creek, another area we visited in 2008. Again, beautiful photos and an excellent record of the rock art of the Kimberley region.BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (609)Mike Donaldson has since published a three-volume series on the prolific rock art of the Kimberley :

Kimberley Rock Art -Volume One: Mitchell Plateau Area,  released in April 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Two: North Kimberley,  released in October 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Three: Rivers and Ranges , released in April 2013.

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/ for details.

Mike Donaldson has also produced a lovely book on the rock engravings of the Burrup Peninsula:

Burrup Rock Art : Ancient Aboriginal Rock Art of  Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago by Mike Donaldson 2010

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/publications/burrup-rock-art-book/.

I would love to see this book one day, as we were so impressed with these ancient petroglyphs, of which there are over 10 000, up to 25 000 years old, at Deep Gorge, near Karratha, Western Australia, and so little is known about them.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1430 When we first started looking, all we could see were huge mullock heaps of red rock, but once you have spotted the first engraving, they suddenly become obvious, covering most of the rocks and depicting animals, birds, marine animals, geometric symbols and strange looking figures.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1406 Here are some more useful websites:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/burrup-peninsula-rock-art-shows-extinct-megafauna/6561788

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/publications/archaeology-and-rock-art-in-the-dampier-archipelago/    and

http://rockart.net.au/Burrup.htm.

Rock Paintings of Aboriginal Australia by Elaine Godden and Jutta Malnic 2008

Another terrific publication on aboriginal art work throughout Australia and the stories behind the paintings. It discusses the materials and techniques used and their deterioration and conservation. It then focuses on a few specific areas: The Kimberleys, Cape York, Arnhem Land and the Central Australian Deserts, with superb photographs of the art work throughout.

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 Journey in Time: The 50 000 Year Story of the Australian Aboriginal Rock Art of Arnhem Land by George Chaloupka 1999

This book explores the 50 000 years of Australian Aboriginal rock art of Arnhem Land: its depth and complexity, aesthetic achievements and the life of its creators. This fabulous book is so comprehensive and has wonderful photos.

The introduction starts with a world perspective and a description of :

Rock art in Australia ;

Rock art dating;

Arnhem Land Galleries;

The Land Gulbok:  its physical characteristics and climate;

The People: their totemism, language groups and clan territories; and

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories and mythology, illustrated by examples of the artwork.

There is a large section on the rock art sites; the materials and techniques used; the aboriginal view of the art; a non-aboriginal sequence of the rock art; and

The different art styles and periods:

Pre-Estuarine : 50 000 to 8000 year ago:

Object imprints;

Large Naturalistic Figures Complex: Large naturalistic human figures and large naturalistic animals, including a thylacine (photo), a long-beaked echidna and a tapir-like Palorchestes, now extinct, and a Tasmanian devil, no longer found on the mainland;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5423Early X-Ray paintings;

Dynamic Figures;

Post-Dynamic Figures: Progressively stylised artwork representing boomerangs, fighting picks, spears and spear throwers, and yam figures.

2.Estuarine : 8 000 to 1500 years ago:

Early Estuarine Paintings;

Beeswax Designs;

X-Ray Art Complex: Humans and animals: fish; crustaceans; fishing spirits.

3.Freshwater Period : 1500 years ago to present day: Paintings of the contact period between aborigines and visitors:

Makassan fisherman from Sulawesi, Indonesia;

European explorers eg Ludwig Leichhardt; the riders and horses of the McKinley Frieze; and paintings of guns and a two-masted lugger.

Chinese gold diggers;

Buffalo shooters; and

Sorcery paintings.

Finally, there is a discussion of :

Particular motifs and themes: East Alligator Figures; Powerful Women; Human Sexuality; Dismembered Bodies; Dilly Bags and String Bags; Crocodiles; Turtles; and Ceremonies;  and

Other art forms: Stencilling; Rock Engraving; Earth Art; and Stone Arrangements.

It finishes with appendices of neighbouring rock art (Kimberleys and Papua New Guinea); and a list of international rock art sites.

Given these unique and priceless art sites are outside and vulnerable to deterioration and damage, these books are so important as a record of the wonderful ancient legacy of Australia’s original inhabitants.

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For more information about Australian rock art, another book, which we don’t have in our library, but is a classic in the field is:  Visions From the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike Morwood, an archaeologist, renowned for his knowledge of Aboriginal Art. See:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/academic-professional/archaeology/Visions-from-the-Past-MJ-Morwood-9781864487176.

Australia’s Living History: Arts of the Dreaming by Jennifer Isaacs 2002

Another fabulous book, which celebrates the diversity and richness of aboriginal culture, art work and oral traditions and covers a very broad range of artistic expression.

After a look at the regional variations in cultural expression, a wide variety of aboriginal art is discussed:

Body Adornment and Ornamentation;

Ceremony and Dance;

Fibre Crafts: Spinning and natural dyeing; Basket making; String bags and nets;

Rock Engravings and Paintings: Techniques; Styles; and Regional Examples;

Bark Painting;

Papunya Painting of the Desert;

Contemporary Works on Canvas;

Carved Weapons and Utensils;

Sculptures;  and

Future Directions for Aboriginal Art.

In the back is an appendix titled the Antiquity of Aboriginal Art.

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My final book is also edited and compiled by this knowledgeable lady:

Australia Dreaming : 40 000 years of Aboriginal History Edited by Jennifer Isaacs 2005

For aboriginal peoples, their artwork is a proud expression of their heritage and mythology, the stories of the Dreaming, the subject of this lavish book. This first aboriginal history of Australia and its people is told through the traditional myths and legends of over 40 aboriginal storytellers from a wide cross-section of communities and areas, showing regional variations in the beliefs of different aboriginal groups.

The stories are accompanied by beautiful photos of the land, people and artwork and are divided up into different themes:

The Reality of Myth: Arrival of the First Australians and their way of Life; Megafauna;  Rising Seas; and Volcanoes;

The Creation Era: Desert Ancestors and the Creation of the Desert Tors; the Origin of Lake Eyre; the Nullabor Plain; The Sky-Heroes of South Eastern Australia; The Earth Mother; the Great Serpents; the Wandjina; and the Creation Ancestors of NE Arnhem Land and North-Eastern Australia;

The Great Journeys: that of the Zebra Finch; and the Kangaroo and Euro;

Earth, Fire and Water;

Seasons: Lightning; Thunder; and Clouds;

Sun, Moon and Stars;

Cycle of Life: Men and Women; Birth of the Tribes; Early Years; Passage to Adulthood; Hunting and Food Gathering;

Death and the Spirit World;

Designs from the Dreaming;

The Visitors: Baiini; Macassans; and the Badu Islanders; and

The Invaders: First encounters with White Men; Violence; Spread of Disease; Vengeance of the Spirit Ancestors; and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

As my last book in my post, it is very fitting that aboriginal people should have the final word on their own prehistory!

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Next week is the third and final post on history books in our library, covering the time since written records.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Four: Natural History Books: Reference Guides

In this post, I will be discussing some fabulous general reference guides to life on earth, including the elements which underpin its very existence: the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

Natural History by Smithsonian Institute 2010

A fabulous door-stopper of a book for anyone interested in natural history and our amazing and unique planet with its huge diversity and extraordinary wealth of plant and animal life – in fact over 1.9 million living species described to date, with more than 20 000 new species discovered and described each year.

It starts with a note on how to use the book, including pointers on size measurements; and plant icons and abbreviations, followed by a general introduction to life on Earth: its geological foundations; evolution of life forms and the classification of organisms. Active geological processes, changing climates, different habitats, human impacts, origins of life, evolution and diversity, natural and artificial selection, animal genealogy and a Tree of Life are all included in this chapter.

The majority of the book is devoted to an amazing in-depth catalogue of 5000 full colour entries, including Minerals, Rocks and Fossils; Microscopic Life Forms; and the Plant, Fungi and Animal Kingdoms.

Each entry has

: a Section Introduction, highlighting the characteristics and behaviours that define the group and discussing their evolution over time, with classification boxes displaying current taxonomic hierarchy and highlighting the level of the group under discussion and a box showing the different groups of species;

: a Group Introduction with key features : distribution, habitat, physical characteristics, life cycle, behaviour and reproductive habits;

: a Species Catalogue with common and scientific names; family; height; essential notes and annotated colour photos, showing relative sizes;    and

: a Feature Profile, which examines single specimens with close-up photographs and side profiles and data sets of size, habitat, distribution and diet.

Almost an essential reference for every library, it is a wonderful guide to the huge diversity of life on earth with all its variety of form, colour, texture, size and function.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (517)Another useful site, particularly for Australian flora and fauna is the Atlas of Living Australia: http://www.ala.org.au/.

Biology: An Australian Focus by Pauline Ladiges, Barbara Evans, Robert Saint and Bruce Knox 2008

Every natural history library should have an academic book devoted to biology, especially if it is a major interest,  and this is a good one, because it has an Australian focus, as well as a student interactive CD-ROM in the back.

It starts from the basics of life with cell biology and energetics and genetics and molecular biology, progressing through to plant form and function; animal form and function; evolution and biodiversity; and ecology, including Australian biota, population ecology, ecosystems and communities, and human impacts.

Plant Form and Function includes reproduction, growth and development of flowering plants; plant structure and nutrition; and plant hormones and growth responses, while Animal Form and Function covers animal reproduction and development; animal and human nutrition;, gas exchange in animals; circulation; water, solutes and excretion; innate defences and the immune system; hormonal control; nervous systems; animal behaviour; and their responses to environmental stress.

Evolution and Biodiversity is a huge chapter, which examines phylogeny and classification systems; the evolving earth (fossils; plate tectonics and continental drift; geological eras and biogeographic regions); and mechanisms of evolution, followed by a detailed look at all the different life forms: bacteria; viruses; protists; plants; fungi; and animals (sponges; jellyfish, sea anemones and corals; flukes and worms; molluscs; insects;  starfish; fish; amphibians; reptiles; birds; mammals; primates and humans).

I really enjoyed the chapter on Australian biota and its evolution from the time when Australia was part of Gondwanaland through the various geological eras and the influence of changing climate and aridity; changing landforms and weathering of soils; increasing frequency of fire; the glacial periods; and the arrival of humans on the continent and their impact. Terrestial and marine environments; the El Nino-Southern Oscillation influence; marine diversity; Australian flora and some of its main families and adaptive characteristics; and our unique fauna, including ancient megafauna, are also discussed in some detail.

The final chapter on human impacts is also very pertinent to Australia and looks at a host of environmental problems and concepts from decreasing biodiversity; biodiversity hotspots; land clearing and fragmentation;  the introduction of new species and the impact of feral animals and weeds; integrated pest management; land and water degradation; soil acidification;  increasing salinity; pollution; the greenhouse effect; climate change; coral bleaching; the illegal trade in endangered species; sustainability; and conservation and restoration ecology.

Being an academic textbook, each chapter concludes with a summary; key terms; self-assessment, review and extension questions and suggestions for further reading. An excellent book for basic biological concepts!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (553)Smithsonian Earth  edited by James F Luhr 2005

Another terrific Smithsonian publication, this time focusing on the Earth !

Its history : geological time; fossils; its building blocks; birth of the solar system; the development of life forms through the various geological eras; the ice ages; and the development of humans, all supported by a tabulated time line at the top of the page.

Its place in space : the universe; the solar system; the relationship between the earth and the sun and moon.

Its anatomy: the earth’s structure, shape, form and layers; the Earth’s magnetic field;  the core, mantle and crust; mineral formation, crystal structure and shape, mineral classification and identification tests; rock types and examples; fossil fuels; and soils: their formation and types.

The changing Earth : plate tectonics, boundaries and movement; weathering and erosion; deposition; mass movement; the impact of meteorites (with examples from all over the world); water (water properties and different forms; the global and local water cycles; and water resources); and life (diversity; evolution; extinctions; biomes and ecosystems; biogeography; nutrient cycles; and threats to biodiversity).

Land features: mountains and volcanoes, fault-lines and hot springs and geysers; rivers and lakes; glaciers and deserts; grasslands and  tundra;  forests and wetlands; and agricultural and urban areas.

Oceans : currents; reefs; polar oceans; oceans of the world; tides and waves; coasts and sea level; and erosional and depositional coastlines.

: Atmosphere : atmospheric structure; energy; circulation; climate regions; climate change; air masses and weather systems; precipitation and clouds; and wind.

: Tectonic Earth : focusing on all the specific earth plates, with details like area, highest and lowest points, major features, major city, and population and boundaries with lots of illustrative examples.

A wealth of information , presented in a very simple and clear format with lots of interesting examples and great photos. This is another essential book for your library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (531)Australian Volcanoes by Russell Ferrett 2005

Large areas of Eastern Australia have experienced intense volcanic activity over the past 40 Million years, resulting in the creation of many landforms, which have since been eroded to varying degrees. I was fascinated to learn that 16 of Australia’s volcanoes have been formed by the crustal Australian plate moving northward over hotspots in the Bass Strait, with the oldest volcano at 35 Million years old at Hillsborough, Qld and the youngest at less than 10 million years old at Mt Macedon. Also, more disconcertingly, that the Victorian volcanic region is not actually extinct, but has been resting the last 4000 years and could actually become active again!

This book examines the earth’s structure; the different types of volcanic activity in Australia; the types of eruptions; volcanic material (tephra, lava and volcanic rocks and their formation); and types of volcanic landforms (volcanic cones; domes; plains; lava tubes; tumuli; plugs; dykes and sills), before concentrating on specific volcanic features in Australia, many of which we have visited. These include the Atherton Tableland with its crater lakes and Undara Lave Tubes in North Queensland; the Glasshouse Mountains, just north of Brisbane, Queensland, and Mt Warning in Northern New South Wales; the Warrumbungles and Ebor Volcano, New South Wales; Mt Canoblas near Orange, New South Wales; Lord Howe Island and Heard Island; the Organ Pipes National Park; Mt Macedon; the Camperdown district; Tower Hill and Mt Eccles in Victoria; Mt Gambier, South Australia;  Circular Head and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania; and the diamond deposits in Western Australia’s Kimberleys.

It is a fascinating book and explains the formation of all these landforms clearly and simply.

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Rocks and Minerals by Chris Pellant 1992

This is a Collins Eye Witness Visual Guide to over 500 rocks and minerals from around the world. It is a perfect book for rock and gemstone collectors, with introductory chapters on rock collecting; geological maps and field equipment; the home kit and organizing your collection. It then has a section on mineral definition, formation, composition, characteristics (crystal systems, habit, cleavage, fracture, hardness, specific gravity, colour, streak, transparency and lustre) and identification.

The section on rocks covers their formation; types of metamorphism; the characteristics of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and a rock identification key.

The world of geology is an enormous and complex subject, but this little book explains the basics so well, that it is interesting to even the lay person like myself and it is so important for the natural history lover to have a basic knowledge of rocks and minerals, as they underpin the rest of life itself: the soils, the plants and the animals, which live in each habitat.

Each entry is categorized into its group and there is a short note about each group at the beginning, followed by specifics about each rock and mineral. Coloured tabs at the top and bottom of each mineral entry denote the group to which it belongs, its chemical composition, its hardness, specific gravity and its cleavage and fracture properties.

The main text includes notes on its characteristics, formation, and chemical tests for identification. There are clear photographs, annotated with identification features, and drawings of the visual outline of its crystal system. The igneous rock entries have coloured tabs of its classification group, its origin, grain size, crystal shape, chemical classification, occurrence and colour; the metamorphic rock tabs also include pressure, temperature and structure, while those of the  sedimentary group includes fossils. The main text in the rock entries discusses their chemical composition and content, as well as texture and origin.

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I would really like to have a copy of this book, now that we are living on the South Coast:

A Geological Guide to Canberra Region and Namadgi National Park by Geological Society of Australia (ACT Division) 2009.* See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/a-geological-guide-to-canberra-region-and-namadgi-national-park/gs9780646487342.aspx.

Colour in Nature by Penelope A Farrant 1999

A  fascinating book about the world of colour and its manifestation in nature. It combines information from across the board of scientific study: astronomy, geology, zoology, botany and physics.

It starts with a chapter on the nature of colour: its production; perception; visible light; spectroscopy; refraction, reflection, diffraction, interference and absorption; and iridescence and polarisation.

Further chapters explore :

Colour in the universe;

Atmospheric colour : including noctilucent clouds; coloured coronas, double rainbows and auroras;

Colours of the earth’s surface : oceans; rivers; glacial lakes; reflections; precious gems and opals; and different types of rocks and soils;

Colourful habitats :  tropical and subtropical rainforests; deciduous and coniferous forests; polar and mountainous areas; grasslands and deserts; oceans and lakes; and the darkness of caves and the deepest depths;

Leaves : photosynthesis and chlorophyll; other pigments; variegated leaves; Autumn colour of deciduous trees; new Spring growth; and low light habitats;

Flowers and Fruits : evolution of flower colour; inflorescences; variable and changing colour; pigments; environment and colour; pollinator preferences; fruit colours to attract birds; ripening fruits and seed colour;

Seeing in colour: light receptors; simple and compound eyes; adapting to light and dark; seeing underwater; animal eyes; human colour vision and colour blindness;

Animal pigments : skin colour and melanins; colour abnormalities and albinism; and all the different animal pigments with examples in the animal world;

Structural colour in animals : interference; iridescence; background colour; transparency; coloured lights; light regulation; luminescent lures; bioluminescence; nacreous pearls; and blue eyes.

Changing and variable colours : chromatophores; colour change with mood, day and night and camouflage; cuttlefish and chameleons; environmental factors and  visual stimuli; seasonal colour change; sexual colours; changes with age; colour and natural selection;

Survival strategies : camouflage and communication: false colours; warning colours; toxic insects; mimesis and mimicry; and  colour mimics in plants; and finally,

Colour, nature and humans: colour wheels; primary, secondary and tertiary colours; colour harmony and clash; colour in the garden; foliage colour; photography; and natural pigments and dyes.

The world of colour, particularly in nature, is such an enormous and endlessly fascinating field. This book offers a wonderful insight into everything to do with colour and, even though it can be quite complex with so much to know, the text and beautiful photographs help expand that knowledge and understanding of some of the basic concepts, like the colour changes with age and the seasons.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (539)

The Australian Weather Book by Keith Colls and Richard Whitaker 2001

A very important book, given the enormous contemporary challenges of the changing climate! Climate change is upon us, whether we like it or not, and we are only just seeing the tip of the ramifications to come, and yet so many people still stick their heads in the sand and try to deny it, despite the wealth of scientific evidence:  the melting ice caps and sea level rises; the extinction of plant and animal species, changes in migration patterns and the dying of the coral reefs; the higher temperatures; and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and fire. I find the denial really hard to understand, given that these people have children and grandchildren, who will not be able to be insulated from the effects of the climate and will have to deal with the problems our generation has created. If one excludes sheer greed or fatalism, the only other excuse is ignorance about the weather and the fact that so many people have been separated from nature and live in controlled urban environments for most of their day. Hence, the importance of this book!!!

It starts with the history of meteorology, followed by notes, accompanied by weather maps, on our diverse Australian climate: its rainfall; temperature; snow and frost; thunderstorms and hail; hours of sunshine and cloud cover; evaporation; drought and flood; tropical cyclones and wind (cyclones and floods being particularly topical and pertinent, given recent weather events!); humidity; and climatic discomfort.

The third chapter discusses the general circulation of the atmosphere: its chemical composition; vertical structure; and global wind circulation, while the following chapters focus on macro-scale circulations (air masses and the forces acting upon them in the atmosphere; weather fronts and low pressure systems; and what those isobars on the nightly TV weather maps mean!); meso-scale circulations (sea breezes, the southerly buster, topographic and downslope winds, eddies and cloudlines) and clouds (their formation and type).

Meteorological instruments (barometers, thermometers, rain gauges, anemometers and weather stations) are discussed, as well as the effects of weather on society and finally, climate change, including its history and theories, greenhouse gases and ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.

Further reading and websites and a glossary are provided in the back. A very factual and informative book from the Australian  Bureau of Meteorology.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (530)

The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney 2006

For those of you, who wanted more than just one chapter on clouds, here is a whole book, written by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2004! I love his manifesto, especially his description of clouds as nature’s poetry and an expression of the atmosphere’s mood, as well as his inclusion of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s beautiful poem ‘The Cloud’, which starts :

‘ I am the daughter of Earth and Water and the nursling of the Sky…’!

After photos of the different cloud genera and a cloud classification table, he proceeds to discuss the low clouds: cumulus and cumulonimbus, stratus and stratocumulus; then the middle clouds: altocumulus, altostratus, and nimbostratus; and the high clouds: cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus.

Each chapter has a guide to spotting that particular cloud type, including a description, its altitude, place of formation, precipitation, species and varieties and confusing look-alikes, as well as lots of interesting information about cloud-associated history, literature, mythology and artwork and their formation and effects. There are also accessory clouds, sidekicks to the 10 main cloud types: pileus, pannus and vellum, as well as supplementary features like tuba, the first sign of a waterspout (which we were lucky enough to see one day at Blue Pool, just south of Bermagui (see photo below), incus, mamma, arcus, virga and precipitatio; and the stratospheric and mesospheric  nacreous and noctilucent clouds.BlogEnvtlBooks2015-01-28 12.32.54There is even a chapter on contrails, formed by high altitude aircraft and their contribution to global warming;  the glider pilot’s cloud surfing nirvana, the Morning Glory of the Gulf Savannah region of North Queensland; and a cloudspotter’s quiz, in which you should be able to get full marks after reading this entertaining and informative book!

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It really makes you appreciate the beauty of our daytime skies with their ever-changing array of clouds!  For our wondrous star-studded nighttime skies, I have three books:

The Night Sky by Steve Massey 2003/ 2007

A very practical guide to observing the sun, moon and planets.

It starts with a concise history of astronomy, followed by a guide to understanding how and where stars and planets are placed and can be found in the sky.

Part Two examines observing the solar system and everything concerning the sun and the moon, including solar and lunar eclipses, solar flares, sunspots, earthshine, the moon phases and the craters and geography of the moon.

Planets are discussed in order of their respective orbits or distance from the sun, starting with mercury and ending with the furthermost planet, Pluto. Each planetary chapter starts with a table, detailing salient details like its visual diameter, axial tilt, magnitude, number of known moons, distance from the earth and the sun, orbital period and primary atmospheric composition. It’s a mind-boggling field, even more confusing than geology and geological time periods! Information is included on observing each planet, their structure, surface markings and rings or moons and their transits.

There are also chapters on asteroids, comets, meteors and meteor showers, as well as an in-depth section on using the tools of the trade: telescopes, refractors, reflectors, catadioptric designs, focusers, finderscopes, collimation, telescope mounts and axis drives, drive motors, eye pieces, lenses and filters and even binoculars; as well as recording your findings with sketches, conventional film photography, CCD imaging, digital cameras and video recorders.

Throughout the book are beautiful photos, as well as clear explanatory diagrams. A very useful book for the home astronomer.

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The Book of Constellations by Robin Kerrod 2002

The night sky has been a constant wonder to peoples from all cultures and time periods and has inspired a large number of myths and legends, which are explored in this book, as well as a wealth of factual information about each heavenly body and information about locating it in the night sky.

I love all the names of the constellations and all the history and mythology behind them. Apparently, there are 88 constellations (finalised worldwide in 1930), 48 of which were recognized by Ptolemy and the Ancient Greeks in 200 AD. While the Greeks were responsible for the names of the constellations, the Arabs named many of the bright stars like Betelgeuse in Orion and Aldebaran in Taurus.

The book explores the concept of the celestial sphere with maps of the northern and southern constellations; the constellations of the zodiac (12); and the major constellations (33) and planets.

Each double page spread includes the mythology behind each constellation; its astronomical features; its location in the night sky; and a constellation map showing the main stars, linked together by a fanciful image of the name of the constellation group.

It is a fascinating book and introduced me to many new constellations, of which I had never heard, as well as informing me about the more familiar ones!  I was amazed to learn that the Ancient Babylonians and Greeks were far enough south to see the Southern Cross, our most famous Australian constellation, and that the little cluster of coloured stars, which can be seen with the naked eye and through binoculars, at the base of left-hand cross, close to Beta, is called the Jewel Box. BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (550)

Incidentally, the Australian aborigines had their own mythological stories about the night sky and often saw patterns in the negative space between the stars like The Emu in the Sky and the Seven Sisters that make up the star cluster known as the Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/whatis.htm and https://japingkaaboriginalart.com/articles/star-dreaming-seven-sisters/.

There are also two books about aboriginal astronomy:

Emu Dreaming: An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy  by Ray and Cilla Norris 2008. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/book.htm  and

Night Skies of Aboriginal Australia- A Noctuary by Dianne Norris 1998 / 2014. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/night-skies-of-aboriginal-australia—a-noctuary/sy9781743323878.aspx.

The Box of Stars by Catherine Tennant 1993

A similar publication in content to Robin Kerrod’s book, but with a slight different approach, using a lovely little boxed set of 32 cards called  Urania’s Mirror, originally hand-painted by ‘a lady’ and published in London in 1825.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (528) Each card is pierced with holes, which mark the stars of the constellation and which glitter when held up to the light, acting as a learning guide to each constellation.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - CopyThere is also a small booklet with night sky maps of the northern and southern hemispheres and seasonal descriptions of the stars, including lists of cards to use during that time.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - Copy - Copy Each card is further discussed with information about each constellation, its location and the mythology behind it. It complements the previous book well.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (534) - CopyBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (535) - CopyThe Australian Sky by WJ Newell 1965

I am including this tiny little Jacaranda Pocket Guide, despite its age and the fact that some of its information is no doubt out-of-date (!), because its explanations are so good and easy to understand. Each constellation is covered in great depth and while it also covers the mythology behind the stars, it seems to have more information about the actual stars, especially in relation to the Australian night sky!BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (646)

I feel astronomy is such a vast and complicated subject, one can never have enough books or guides and each one has a slightly different slant. Finally, here are some excellent websites on this subject:

http://www.abc.net.au/science/starhunt/

http://www.scitech.org.au/the-sky-tonight

https://maas.museum/observations/category/monthly-sky-guides/

http://asv.org.au/

https://astronomy.org.au/general/sky-guides/.

And lastly, a good atlas is essential in any well-stocked home library! In fact, you probably need at least three or four atlases in a lifetime, as borders are constantly changing, as well as environmental challenges, and cities and populations are always growing!

We were given The Times Atlas of the World as a wedding present back in 1983 and it served us well, particularly for the two overseas trips we made over the following ten years, but since then the European landscape has totally changed. Yugoslavia no longer exists, having been replaced by Slovenia, Croatia, Boznia-Herzgovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia; Czechoslovakia is now two countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic; while East Germany and West Germany are now the one Germany; and White Russia is now called Belarus.

So, in 2014, we decided we needed to update our library and update bought a new atlas:

Philip’s Atlas of the World: In Association with The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

While not as large as our original atlas, a distinct advantage, given the Times Atlas was an absolute whopper (!), this new atlas is incredibly comprehensive with a wealth of interesting information about our wonderful world!

The frontispiece features a Key to World Map Pages (including Keys to City Map Symbols and World Map Symbols; and World Maps Elevation and Depth Tints), while inside the back cover is a Key to European Map Pages and a World Country Index.

The atlas starts with a User Guide and Statistics for Countries (Area, in square kilometres or miles; Population; Capital City and Annual Income) and Cities (population figures), followed by large sections on :

The Future of the Oceans and Seas: Temperature; Salinity; Oceans and Carbon Dioxide; Oceanic Conveyor Belts; Ocean Currents; the Coriolis Effect; Oceans and Resources; Overfishing; Aquaculture; Oil; Dead Zones; Red Tides; Waste Material; Plastic; Ocean Acidification; and Rising Sea Levels.

Satellite Images of the Earth

Gazetteer of Nations (alphabetically organized):  Geography; Politics and Economy; and Key Statistics: area, population, capital city, ethnic groups as a percentage, languages, religions, currency; and a small map and flag.

World Geography:

The Universe: Life of a Star; Black Holes; Galactic Structures; the Home Galaxy; the End of the Universe; the Nearest Stars, with distances in light-years; Star Charts for both hemispheres; and a List of Constellations.

The Solar System: Planetary orbits; Planetary Data (Mean distance from the sun; mass; period of orbit; period of rotation; equatorial diameter; average density; surface gravity ;and number of known satellites); and descriptions of each planet.

Seasons, Time and Motion: The Seasons; Day and Night; Earth Data: distance from the sun; angle of tilt; length of year; superficial area; land and water surfaces; equatorial and polar circumference,s diameters and radii; and volume and mass; Sunrise and Sunset; the Moon and Moon data : Distance from the Earth; Size and mass; Visibility; and Temperature; Phases of the Moon; Eclipses; Tides; and a map of Time Zones and the International Date Line.

Geology of the Earth:

Model of the Earth; Continental Drift; Plate Tectonics; Distribution of Volcanoes; Geological Time Periods; a Map of Earthquake Zones; and a List of Major Earthquakes since 1900.

The Atmosphere:

Structure of the Atmosphere; Circulation of the Air; Frontal Systems; Chemical Composition; Air Masses; Classification of Clouds; Maps of Pressure and Surface Winds and Weather Records for barometric pressure (minimum and maximum); fastest wind speed; windiest place; and worst storm and tornado.

Climate: Climate and Weather Terms;  Maps of Climatic Regions, Temperatures and Precipitation; Temperature and Rainfall Figures; Beaufort Wind Scale;  Monsoons; and Climate Records (minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation; longest heatwave; driest and wettest places; and heaviest hailstones and snowfall).

Climate Change and Global Warming: Maps of World Carbon Dioxide Emissions per capita; and Annual Average Surface Air Temperatures and Annual Average Precipitation; Models of Regional Climate Change and Projected Changes in Global Warming; and Diagrams of Recent and Future Sea-Level Changes and Arctic Sea Ice.

Water and Vegetation: The Hydrological Cycle; Water Distribution; Annual Sediment Yield; Longest Rivers; and Maps, showing Water Scarcity and Natural Vegetation throughout the world.

Biodiversity and the Natural World: World Maps of Threatened Animal Species and Environmental Hotspots; a Map of Australia’s Introduced Species (rabbits, foxes and cane toads) and the Value of Nature (provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural services).

Population: World Maps of Population Density and Population Change; Diagrams and Graphs of World and Nation Income; Population by Continent; Japan’s Ageing Population; and World Population Change over Time; and Data Sets of the Largest Nations; Most Crowded Nations; Least Crowded Nations; and Fastest Growing and Declining Populations.

Food Supply: Water; Fertilizers; Demand for Meat; Pests, Diseases and Weeds; Genetic Modification; World Crop Production and Global Land Usage; Land Management; and Future Potential.

Cities: World Maps of Urban Population and Urbanization of the Earth over time; Graphs of World Urbanization, Urban Advantages (mortality/ literacy) and City Growth; the Largest Cities; Slum Cities; Sustainable Cities; and a List of Cities with over 10 Million inhabitants. Apparently, in 2008, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities.

The Human Family: World Maps of World Migration; Refugees; and Predominant Languages and Religions.

Conflict and Cooperation: World Maps of the Global Peace Index and International Organizations; and Bar Graphs showing Refugee Numbers and Military Spending.

Energy:  World Maps of Energy Balance (the difference between energy production and consumption), Energy Production, and Oil Movements; Bar Graphs of World Energy Consumption and Energy Reserves (oil, gas and coal); Data Sets of Nuclear Power, Hydroelectricity and Wind Power; Peak Oil; Fracking; and Alternative Energy Sources (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biomass).

Minerals: World Map of Mineral Distribution; and Figures and Bar Charts for Specific Minerals (diamonds, blood diamonds; uranium; iron ore; rare earth elements and scrap metals).

Employment and Industry: World Maps of Employment, Industry and Trade, Unemployment, and Tourism and Travel; an Employment Pie Chart; the Percentage of Men and Women in Employment in Selected Countries; and a List of the World’s Busiest Airports.

Trade: World Maps of World Trade, Dependence on Trade (exports as a percentage of GDP), Globalization, Trade in Primary Exports and the Balance of Trade; a Bar Chart showing Traded Products, Pie Charts for Major Exports; and the Globalization Index.

Health: Millienium Development Goals; World Maps of Food Consumption and Infant Mortality; Bar Charts focusing on AIDS; Causes of Death, Medical Provision, Access to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Malaria; and Data Lists on Maternal Mortality Rates and Expenditure on Health in Selected Countries.

Wealth: World Maps of Income Levels, Inflation, and Growth in GNI; Bar Charts showing Indicators for Different Income Levels (high, middle and low), and Extreme Poverty; a Pie Chart for Continental Shares of Population and Wealth; State Finance; and Tackling Poverty.

Standards of Living: World Maps of Indexes for  Human Development and Gender Inequality; and Bar Charts showing Education Levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) in Selected Countries; the Distribution of Spending; Fertility and Education; and Gender Equality.

The next major section contains street maps of all the major world cities in alphabetical order, and then finally, we reach the main World Map Section: world maps of the physical and political world, including thicknesses and depths of the continental plates and oceans; followed by maps of each continent and individual countries.

It finishes with a geographical glossary and an index to all the World Maps with latitudes and longitudes, abbreviations and notes on pronunciation. An excellent publication!BlogEnvtlBooks20%Image (645)

Next week, I am discussing rose pruning, a timely topic since we have just finished pruning all our roses, ready for their new growth in Spring! We will then resume our book posts with the final parts of Our Beautiful Earth: Natural History Books, with two posts on the environmental challenges our special planet faces and measures we can take as individuals to help the situation, before finishing the cold season with a post on our Winter Garden.

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

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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.