Our Beautiful Earth: Part Two: Natural History Books : Birds and Butterflies

One of the wonderful benefits of a garden, apart from beautiful flowers and fresh home-grown food, are all its other inhabitants – the interesting insects and spiders, the beautiful butterflies and the amazing bird life! We are always finding something new, both in our garden and our explorations of this beautiful area, which is so rich in natural history! Because the insect world is so vast, we have yet to find a good general guide on Australian insects and possibly never will! I suspect that it is probably easier to research and identify them from internet sites like :

http://anic.ento.csiro.au/insectfamilies/ ;

https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Collections/ANIC/ID-Resources

http://www.ozanimals.com/australian-insect-index.html    and

https://australianmuseum.net.au/insects .

However, butterflies are a particular love of mine and there are a number of excellent publications!

I have always adored butterflies. They are such fragile ephemeral creatures, yet remarkably tough to survive at all and have such beautiful patterns, both as adults and caterpillars, and interesting life cycles, their emergence from their pupas being quite miraculous! While we have a number of butterflies in our garden here in Candelo, like the majestic Orchard Butterfly, we particularly loved their colourful cousins in Tropical North Queensland, like the iridescent-aqua Ulysses Butterfly, the pursuit of whose image resulted in my daughter falling through old rotten verandah boards and damaging her leg! In 2008, we were lucky enough to visit Iron Range National Park, a biological hotspot, not just for birds, but also butterflies, where we watched butterfly expert and James Cook University lecturer, Peter Valentine, in a crane, netting species in the tops of tall trees, while being kissed on our hands by salt-hungry butterflies – a very special moment! So, we could definitely identify with the author of this book:

An Obsession With Butterflies by Sharman Apt Russell 2003

This paperback is a fascinating read about equally fascinating creatures!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (554) - Copy

I learnt so much about them, including some of the following facts:

Butterflies belong to the Order Lepidoptera, which contains 18 000 known species of butterflies and 147 000 species of moths. This was back in 2003. There are more species identified now – see later!  Apparently, their appearance can morph within a gender; within different populations and habitats, and even within the same place at different times of the year, which makes identification a very difficult task indeed!!!

They have wonderful names like owls; birdwings; apollos; hamadryads; satyrs; jezebels; tortoiseshells; milkweeds; snouts; fritillaries; painted ladies, admirals, buckeyes, checkerspots ; crescents; moonbeams; brimstones; sulphurs; hairstreaks; swordtail flashes; metalmarks; coppers; cornelians; ceruleans; azures; oak blues;  imperial blues; emperors and even, white albatrosses.

In the Middle Ages, people believed buterfloeges were fairies in disguise, who stole butter, cream and milk.

Lord Rothschild (1868 – 1937) had a butterfly collection of 2.25 Million butterflies and moths, which he bequeathed to the British Museum, London, making it the largest collection in the world at that time.

2000 species of butterflies exhibit myrmecophily (a love of ants), where ants will maintain and protect larvae from parasitic wasp attack, in exchange for honeydew secreted by glands on the caterpillars eg. Bright Coppers and other blue butterfly species.

On emerging from its chrysalis, the Tiger Swallowtail engages in puddling or salt-drinking at muddy puddles with their bar buddies, who then practice hilltopping behaviour, where they congregate at the top of the hill to lie in wait for unsuspecting (or usually, not so unsuspecting) females to mate! While waiting, they engage in spiral territorial fights trying to establish dominance, all the while keeping a lookout for females! Not that different to humans really!

Monarch butterflies in Canada and Northern USA overwinter in Mexico. They can fly in clouds at altitudes as high as 3000 feet and as far as 50 miles a day. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9rZz3fILt4 and https://www.mexperience.com/travel/outdoors/monarch-butterflies-mexico/.

We also have migratory butterflies in Australia. See: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Insects/Butterflies+and+moths/Common+species/Migratory+Butterflies#.WMh7e2fj_IU and https://australianmuseum.net.au/caper-white-butterfly.

I remember sitting on our east-facing verandah at Dorrigo and watching hordes of Caper Whites, flying west up the escarpment, then up over our roof and ever onward. And they weren’t just hill-topping- there were too many of them!!! If this book has whetted your appetite to know more about butterflies, it is worth obtaining a comprehensive guide.

We actually possess three : Butterflies of Australia by IFB Common and DF Waterhouse 1972/ 1981; The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by Michael F Braby 2004; and The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010 . The first one is Ross’s old classic; the second, a more recent field guide, a perfect weight and size to carry with you on your butterfly walks; and the third and most recent, written by one of Ross’s ecology lecturers, when he studied environmental science at Griffith University, back in 1976 to 1978. This latter book is the one we tend to use most, so is the one I will discuss!

The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010

This is an excellent book – very comprehensive, with clear readable text and lots of wonderful illustrations of butterflies in the field, reacting with their natural environment, rather than as dead museum specimens (the usual presentation in previous guides). If you can only own one butterfly guide, this is it!

As of 2010, in Australia, there are over 20 000 species of butterflies and moths, arranged in 82 families. The majority are moths, but the 400 species of butterflies are grouped in five families.

In Part One, the book discusses their anatomy; life cycle, reproduction, habitats, relationships with  plants and other animals and human impacts and butterfly gardening.

The larger Part Two is devoted to an in-depth discussion of each family, including identification notes about all the different species, including scientific name, size and habits, as well as a distribution map and illustrations of each species at each life cycle stage: egg, larvae (caterpillar); chrysalis (pupa); and adult male or female.

In the back is a list of butterfly books; journals; websites and societies; and two appendices : a checklist of Australian butterflies; and a list of larval host plants of Australian butterflies.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (518)

Birds

Another major interest is ornithology and we are so lucky here in Candelo with our beautiful bird population. Living high on the hill in amongst the old pepperina and loquat trees, we have an excellent vantage point for watching these amazing creatures, especially from our verandah. Not only do we have parrots and cockatoos in abundance, but also a number of smaller birds, like fairy wrens, finches and eastern spinebills, despite the high local population of cats!

Our immediate environment on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is very rich in birdlife as well, which I will write more about later in reference to local bird guides, but for now, a look at more general guides!

Every birdwatcher has their favourite bird book, which they believe is superior to all others! While my parents swore by Peter Slater and other ornithologists liked Graham Pizzey (both books, which we have owned in the past!), these days, we tend to refer to Simpson and Day as our first choice, followed by Michael Morecombe’s book for more detailed information and the Reader’s Digest Guide for top photographs.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Simpson and Day   1984 – 1996     5th EditionBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (505)

This is an excellent field guide with a waterproof cover, ideal for using outside! The introduction has a key to all the families and their page numbers, as well as a diagram of a bird’s body and information on bird identification using this book.

Most of the book is devoted to field notes about each bird species: its common and scientific names; abundance; movement (sedentary, annual or partial migratory and nomadic) ; description of males, females and juveniles; size; voice; and habitat, as well as excellent colour illustrations of each bird (male/ female/ immature/ races) and maps showing distribution (breeding/ non-breeding and vagrant, as well as boundary lines between races). Special identifiable features are also highlighted with black-and-white sketches of their hatchlings; head profiles; markings; tail patterns; eyes, bills and claws; or activity (display and courtship; flight; perching; calling; diving; stalking) for quick easy reference.

The Handbook in the last quarter of the book has detailed notes on the life cycle of birds; hints for bridwatchers; bird habitats in Australia; prehistoric birds; modern avifaunal regions; DNA – DNA hybridization;  and more information on the different bird families in Australia, including the breeding season for each species and further reading. There is also a rare bird bulletin; a checklist for Australian island territories; and a glossary of bird terminology.

Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe 2000BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (506)

While this book has very similar information, there are two major differences, which are very useful. Firstly, on the inside of the back cover (as well as in the introduction), there are colour tags for each family group with page numbers for quick reference, to which I constantly refer. And secondly, there is a large section in the back with 1000 colour illustrations of nests and eggs, showing the huge diversity in building techniques and aiding identification (photo below).

Accompanying the text are detailed notes on breeding season and location; courtship; nest material, shape and size; clutch and egg  size; incubation ;  fledging and leaving the nest. In the back is a section on migrant waders with a map of distribution;  a list of extinct birds and new discoveries; and references to bird books, magazines and prominent bird groups and schemes.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%Image (507)Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds 1976

The big advantage of this book is its wonderful photographs of birds in their natural environment, including amazing shots of birds feeding, wading, sitting on nests or feeding nestlings, but its large size means that it is certainly NOT a field guide! We have used this book so much that we are now on our second copy!

Part One starts with a map of altitudes; average annual rainfall and rainfall variability; and vegetation zones in Australia, then explores each bird habitat from rainforest, forest and woodland to scrubland, shrub steppe,  grassland, heathland, mangroves and wetlands.

In Part Two, each bird has either a full page or double page spread with wonderful photographs, general notes (often with interesting historical notes)and an italicized section specifying other names, the length and description of males, females and juveniles; voice; nesting and distribution, including a distribution map. Towards the end of this section are lists of rare visitors, escaped captives and unsuccessful introductions, as well as notes on the different orders and families of Australian birds.

Part Three is concerned with the life of birds: the behaviour which distinguishes species (locomotion; flight; finding food; adaptations to feeding; care of feathers; aggression displays;  and courtship rituals); migrants and nomads; regulation of bird numbers; prehistoric birds of Australia; and the origins of Australian birds. It is such an interesting book with a wealth of information about Australian birds.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (515)

The next two books are devoted to birds of the world and show the huge diversity and beauty of these incredible creatures.

Encyclopaedia of Birds edited by Joseph Forshaw 1998

While the primary focus is always on birds of your own country, it is great to learn more about their worldly cousins, especially if travelling overseas. The introduction looks at bird anatomy and classification; the evolution of birds from feathered dinosaurs 150 Million years ago; bird habitats and adaptations to their environment; bird behaviour and endangered species.

The remainder and majority of the book is devoted to the different orders and suborders of birds eg albatrosses and petrels; divers and grebes; herons and their allies; waterfowl and screamers; and waders and shorebirds.

Each section has key facts in an orange box: the name of the order; number of families; genera and species; the smallest and largest types and conservation status (though this information is probably outdated now!), as well as a world distribution map and detailed notes about each type of bird and lovely illustrations and photographs. For example, in Herons and their Allies,  there are notes on identification by bill shape and historical notes on the Sacred Ibis of Ancient Egyptians, as well as specific notes on herons, night herons, bitterns, storks, new world vultures, ibises, spoonbills and flamingos. Kingfishers and their Allies covers kingfishers, todies, motmots, bee-eaters, rollers, ground-rollers, courols, hoopoes, and hornbills.

It is a fascinating book with lots of birds, of which I have never even heard and is a great addition to our natural history library.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (552)

Birds of the World by Colin Harrison and Alan Greensmith 1993

Slightly different in approach to the previous book, this  pocket sized guide describes over 800 bird species of the world, with half and full page spreads devoted to each bird. Each entry has a colour-coded band on the top, specifying the family and species name and length with detailed descriptive notes, including their nests and distribution; terrific photographs annotated with key identification pointers; scale silhouettes to compare bird height with the size of this book; pictures of alternate plumage, a worldwide distribution map and a band at the bottom of the entry specifying plumage, habitat and migratory status.

There are also notes on the relationship between birds and humans over history; types of feathers; bird anatomy; bill shape; variation within species; nesting boxes and bird feeders and water containers; birdwatching in the field; identifying birds in flight; and a useful identification key. An excellent taster to the wonderful world of birds!

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an excellent website for bird information. See: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478 and https://www.allaboutbirds.org/. I discovered them, when researching Birds-of-Paradise. They have some wonderful video footage of the 39 species. See: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/search/?q=Birds%20of%20Paradise.

We would dearly love to see these beautiful birds in their natural environment in New Guinea one day!  In the meantime, we can satisfy our desire with the above videos and maybe one day, this bucket list book: Birds of New Guinea by Thane K. Pratt & Bruce M. Beehmer 2015 . See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/birds-of-new-guinea/fp9780691095639.aspx.

The following two books are useful guides to birdwatching locations, especially the second one, which focuses specifically on our local area.

Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia by Sue Taylor 2013

Having lived in the country for most of our life and being keen visitors to National Parks, we have never really had to think about where to see birds, but this book would have been very useful during our 2008 trip around Australia, as well as being of great value to city birdwatchers in planning their ornithological excursions.

We feel we have seen a fair bit of Australia and key birdwatching venues, so it was an interesting exercise to tick off the places which we had visited in the book, finding to our surprise that we’d only been to 46 out of the 100 places listed! Happily, there is obviously much more to see!!! We are looking forward to a desert trip one day to see more of our beautiful parrot species.

While Sue admits the choice of places was subjective, I agreed totally with many of her selections. How can we ever forget the vast flotillas of Black Swans at Tower Hill, Victoria; the huge diversity of waterfowl at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory, as well as at Parry’s Lagoon in Western Australia; the enormous flocks of Plumed Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese at Hasties Swamp on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland, nor the Eclectus Parrots, Palm Cockatoos, Magnificent Riflebirds and Sunbirds at Chilli Beach in Iron Range National Park and the delicate Jacanas, Blue-winged Kookaburras, Brolgas and Magpie Geese at Lakefield National Park, both areas on Cape York, North Queensland. We finally saw a Cassowary in the wild on our last bushwalk at Mission Beach; called and cuddled Providence Petrels out of the sky at Lord Howe Island; and visited Broome Bird Observatory in Western Australia. It was great seeing the inclusion of our old stamping ground at Lamington National Park and two local areas of our new home : Mogareeka Inlet and Green Cape.

There are beautiful photographs throughout the book of birds in their natural environment. It is a lovely book to own!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (508)

Birding Australia: Australian Edition 2008 by Lloyd Nielsen

A very similar book, which covers a much larger area, but doesn’t have the lovely bird photos of the previous book. It is very much a directory with maps, a brief description of each area, its climate, access/ directions and its birding highlights, as well as lists of key species and endemics; good birding spots and best times; suggested itineraries; regional field guides, CDs and DVDs; local bird groups, accommodation, tours and websites, and a table of times for first light, sunrise, sunset and last light for the first day of each month.

A very comprehensive book, which is backed up by the Birding Australia website:  http://www.birdingaustralia.com.au/.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (574)

Birdwatching on the Far South Coast New South Wales by Far South Coast Birdwatchers Inc 2008

Essential reading for birdwatchers on the Far South Coast of New South Wales! We are so lucky in this area to have a wide variety of habitats with many wonderful waterways from mountain and forest; lakes and rivers; and National Parks to agricultural land and dams and many coastal lagoons and beaches. We also have three designated birdwatching routes, which never fail to please, especially the dam and floodplains at Kalaru, near Tathra, which always have a multitude of waterbirds.

This useful small book, compiled by the local birdwatching group,  is divided into three sections: Places to Go; Birds to See; and Other Information. In Places to Go, each area is described, including access, favourite birdwatching spots; and the birds likely to be seen, as well as providing a handy map and random hints like binocular adjustment and care; what to do if you find a bird on the ground and the Birdwatchers’ Code of Ethics. Like with the previous book, while we have already explored many of the areas mentioned, we still have plenty of local excursions in the future!

The second section, Birds to See,  lists 300 species of birds in the Bega Valley, including its scientific name; residency and abundance status; the best spots to see them and other general notes.

The last section suggests useful books and websites; gives the contact details of the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) and Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and a few notes about dealing with ticks, mosquitoes, sandflies and leeches!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (509)

The next two books are very interesting reads about our Australian bird life.

The Lyrebird: A Natural History by Pauline Reilly 1988

My daughter based one of her science projects in Year 10 on Superb Lyrebirds, of which we had quite a large population on our rainforest block on the escarpment, adjoining Bellinger River National Park. We used this book extensively in her research for this project, as well as in the formulation of her experimental hypotheses.

She was particularly interested in their song, as male lyrebirds are superb mimics and will often go through an extensive repertoire of different bird calls to attract their mate. Armed with a tape recorder, Caro would tiptoe up on the birds, only to have them invariably go silent on her and glide off like Houdini into the bush, highly frustrating for her and by the end of it, I don’t think she wanted to see another lyrebird for a long while!

Nevertheless, she did get enough results to confirm Pauline Reilly’s assertion that the amount of time between between its own calls during the mimicry sequence is fixed and specific to each male, allowing their identification and ownership of territory.

However, her statement that lyrebirds do not mimic birds, which breed at the same time as themselves, was not supported by Caroline’s evidence, as she clearly recorded them mimicking Eastern Whipbirds in the subtropical rainforests of Dorrigo!

For anyone interested to know more about these fascinating birds, this book is a must! Chapters cover their origins and relationships; their distribution and annual cycle; descriptions of their physical appearance and  the roles of both males and females; immature lyrebirds; song and mimicry;  and random and interesting extra information. I have always loved Pauline’s story about the 1930s flute player, who used to play two popular songs of the time ,‘Mosquito Dance’ and ‘The Keel Row’,  near his pet lyrebird, who incorporated the tunes into his song, then passed them on to his descendants, who melded them together in their territorial calls, still heard in 1969.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (510)

Where Song Began by Tim Low 2014

Australia has so many fascinating and unusual birds from the lyrebirds with their amazing mimicry to the Satin Bowerbirds, which build courting platforms, decorated with entirely with blue tobacco flowers, cornflowers, pegs, milk bottle tops etc); the scrub turkeys and mallee fowl, which build enormous incubation mounds; the male emus and cassowaries, who raise the young; the Laughing Kookaburra, which eats snakes, the territorial magpie, nominated by Canadian biologist, the aptly named David Bird, as ‘the most serious avian menace in the world‘, yet with such a beautiful melodious song; and its incredibly beautiful colourful and raucous parrots!

This is a fascinating book, primarily  about the origin of birds and their evolution. There is so much interesting information about birds and their behaviour, particularly our Australian species, and while I really don’t want to add any spoilers, some of the topics include the beginning of song and the origin of parrots (both in Australia);  the birds of New Guinea; gigantism in birds; rainforest pigeons and their role in forest evolution, the endangered Gouldian Finch; seabirds; and the relationship between people and birds.

It’s a very readable book, backed up by both the fossil record and contemporary research and genetic studies. I was fascinated to learn that flamingoes used to live in Australia 20 Million years ago, having always doubted the inclusion of flamingos in Swiss Family Robinson, a childrens’ book about a family, shipwrecked on a tropical island near New Guinea. Apparently, there were 3 species of flamingos at Lake Eyre, up until 1 Million years ago. And that I’m afraid, is as much as you get…!  Enjoy the book!

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Next, I will be discussing books about more fascinating animal life.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part One: Natural History Books: Plants

Given that we are keen gardeners, it should be no surprise that another great interest is botany and the beautiful wildflowers of our incredible continent! In Australia alone, we have over 18 000 species of flowering plants, grouped in 200 families! We are forever identifying and photographing wildflowers whenever we are bushwalking and are always learning new things.

The botanical world is endless and knowledge is always expanding. The Pea Family is a classic case, so the best one can do is to have a broad understanding of the major families and know how to work the plant identification keys, but even then, there are always anomalies!  From my experience, it is useful to have a number of wildflower books, especially those pertinent to your specific locality, though having said that, there are often cross-overs between areas, so a wide variety of books is beneficial. Recent publications are also useful, as taxonomists often change scientific nomenclature, especially in the Eucalypt world! Here is a good general Australian wildflower book:

Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers by Denise Greig  1999

This book covers over 1000 Australian wildflower species, commonly encountered growing wild. They range in size from tiny annuals and terrestrial orchids to large perennials and shrubs. The book only includes a few trees, mainly colourful rainforest species or large-flowered mallees, and some common and conspicuous introduced plants, but ferns, fungi, sedges and grasses are not covered.

It is primarily a field guide rather than a definitive reference work, and early chapters are devoted to an explanation of terminology and nomenclature; how to use the guide; a small section on plant anatomy; a map of Australia showing the vegetation zones with accompanying descriptive text; and a guide to all the different Australian plant families, with a brief description and page reference numbers.

The remainder of the book is devoted to each family with species descriptions, flowering times and distribution on the left-hand page and colour photographs of each plant on the right-hand side. In the back is a useful glossary and bibliography. There are so may Australian wildflowers, but this general guide is a start!

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Because we lived in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales for many years, the next set of books were very useful.

Wildflowers of the North Coast of New South Wales by Barry Kemp  2004

Local flora guides are essential and this one is terrific! It covers the New South Wales coast from Newcastle, north to the Queensland border (500 km), and altitudes up to 800 metres elevation.

The plants are arranged into major habitat groups: Coastal Dunes, Headlands and Estuaries; Swamp Forest, Freshwater Wetlands and Riverbanks; Coastal Heath; Woodland Heath; Open Forest; Rainforest and Weeds, all sections with a description of each environment and its challenges and further division, based on size (Small Trees and Large Shrubs;  Small Shrubs and Herbs) and then family (in alphabetical order); genus and species. Beautiful photographs of both habitat and each species abound.

Many of the plants described are not restricted to this area, so the book is still relevant to Sydney and South-East Queensland.

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Australian Rain-Forest Trees WD Francis 1970

One of the original classics in rainforest tree identification, this third edition was produced almost 50 years ago, the first edition being published in 1929.

The introduction covers rainforest distribution in Australia; the character of Australian rainforests; the relationship of rainfall to rainforests; their atmospheric conditions and light; the soil and leaf litter; the effect of bushfires; tree size; buttresses and flanged stems; the bark, wood and leaves of Australian rainforest trees and the cultivation of these trees in Australia.

There is a brief description of the families of Australian rainforest trees, followed by identification keys and detailed descriptions of each family, including the derivation of its name, description, distribution, remarks and uses, as well as references, for both subtropical (Part One) and tropical rainforest trees (Part Two) !

I loved its black-and-white photographs of huge old rainforest trees with enormous girths, their height dwarfing the humans (often with axes in hand, the book having been produced by the Forest and Timber Bureau!) beside them, as well as close-up scaled photographs and diagrams of leaves, flowers and seed pods!

There is also a personal connection to this book, with photographs of my husband’s aunt and uncle in one of the photos, as well as a number of her moustached surveyor father, James Edgar Young, an early member of the Queensland Naturalists Club Inc, which was started in 1906 and still operates today.

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Ornamental Rainforest Plants in Australia by David L Jones 1986

Another excellent guide to Australian rainforest plants, with not an axe in sight!

One thousand species are discussed in detail, especially those with ornamental interest, with a focus on their cultivation and propagation in the home garden.

There is a wealth of information on rainforest types and distribution; cultivation requirements (soil; light; planting; mulching; watering; fertiliser; and pruning); leaf terminology (divisions, shape and margins); creating a rainforest (site conditions; species selection and layout; preparation and planting; mulching and nutrient recycling; watering and misting; and maintenance); and propagation by seed, cuttings, layering, division, grafting and budding.

The plants are discussed in family groups, with general notes on family features; horticultural attributes; cultivation; and propagation, then specific entries on genus (arranged alphabetically) and their species (common and scientific names; type of rainforest habitat; flowering period; description; distribution; notes and cultivation and propagation).

There are black-and-white scaled botanical sketches of foliage, fruit and flowers throughout, as well as coloured plates of photographs, making this book an invaluable identification guide as well.

In the back of the book is a variety of lists of rainforest plants for different situations and purposes, titled: Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, Coastal and Inland Regions; Pioneer Plants and Fast Growing Species; Indoor Plants; Shade Trees; Curtailing Stream Bank Erosion; Attractive or Decorative Bark, Foliage, New Growth, Flowers and Fruit; Fragrant Flowers; Edible Fruit; and even Species Attractive to Nectar-Feeding or Fruit-Eating Birds.

This book certainly fulfils its promise of encouraging a love of rainforest plants and incorporating them in the garden.

BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (522)Gardening With Australian Rainforest Plants by Ralph Bailey and Julie Lake 2001

A very similar book, also promoting rainforest gardens, with a slightly different approach. While starting with a description of the different types of Australian rainforests, it digresses to dispel certain misconceptions and myths and then has very detailed chapters on:

Planning : Site considerations; design; climate; and soil

Plant Selection : Watercolour garden designs; buffer zones; essential steps in the creation of the garden; and lists of plants for specific needs eg windbreaks; buffer zones; variegated foliage; fragrance; and the rainforest floor.

Planting : Soil preparation; pH; planting for the different levels of the rainforest (for example : canopy, understorey and floor); climbers; planting in established gardens; watering; protection from wind and frost; staking and mulching; and more lists of plants: shrubs and understoreys; climbers and scramblers; palms; trees and shrubs with spectacular flowers; trees for the home garden; and pioneer plants.

Final Details: Vantage points; furniture; lighting; and rainforest pools, creeks and waterfalls.

Care and Cultivation: Water; fertilising; pruning; weed control; insect attack; and common pests and diseases;     and

Feature Rainforest Plants and their incorporation into mixed and exotic gardens; poolside plantings; colder climates; and boggy areas and creek banks.

There are also chapters on : Small Gardens and Courtyards: Seaside Rainforest Gardens; Drier Inland Gardens; Container Growing; Wildlife in the Rainforest Garden, including bird and butterfly attractants and pond life; Rainforest Plants for Bush Tucker, including lists of edible and toxic plants; and finally, propagation by seed, cuttings and grafting.

The authors include their 100 favourite rainforest plants, with key symbols for light levels, temperature, water requirements and special features for quick reference. Primarily a gardening book, its photographs are still useful for supporting other identification guides.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (573)

Rainforest Plants I-V by Nan and Hugh Nicholson 1985-2000

A wonderful series of five books by the owners of Terania Creek Nursery in Northern New South Wales, we used these small books extensively during our Dorrigo years, as our block was perched right on the escarpment, bordering Bellinger National Park and Dorrigo National Park and was surrounded by subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest species.

The photographs are beautiful and make identification much easier, though at times I wished that they covered all aspects – flowers, fruit and leaves on the one page!

The accompanying text is also very informative with common, scientific and family names and notes about the name derivation; distribution; identification features; habitat; fruit, seeds and dispersion; germination and use in the garden.

Other features include:  a distribution map for the East coast of Australia (Volume 1); notes on growing a rainforest and weeds (both in Volume 2); rainforest types (Volume 3); disturbing rainforests (Volume 4); and rainforest seeds and their propagation (Volume 5), as well as a cumulative index for all 5 books.

There are certainly some beautiful rainforest plants and this series really engenders a great appreciation of them all.

Australian Rainforest Fruits: A Field Guide by Wendy Cooper 2013 *

I always used to hanker after this book, but alas, it was too expensive at the time, but had we stayed in Dorrigo on our rainforest block, we would no doubt have bought it at some stage. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/australian-rainforest-fruits/cs9780643107847.aspx.

Mind you, if we had had the money, we would have loved the definitive reference guide to Australian plants :  the Flora of Australia series, co-published by CSIRO and Australian Biological Resources Study, since 1981 . See http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/series/6  and: http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/flora-of-australia  and http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/flora-of-australia/families.

The plan was for more than 60 volumes, covering almost 30,000 species, systematically arranged by family, including flowering plants, conifers, ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens of Australia and its oceanic islands. It is now no longer available in printed form, but fortunately for us, it is now presented as an online Australasian eFlora platform. See: http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/ and http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/flora/index.html and http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/flora/main/index.html.

BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_1077While on the subject of Australian flora (and fauna), it is well worth checking out an organization, called Bush Blitz, which is based at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra and conducts biological surveys all over Australia, discovering many new species in the process. Our friend, Brian Hawkins, with whom Ross worked back at the Rainforest Centre in Dorrigo, is a Senior Project Officer with them. See: http://bushblitz.org.au/expeditions/ and http://bushblitz.org.au/team-profiles/.

Guide to Wildflowers of Western Australia by Simon Nevill and Nathan McQuoid 2008 *

No botanical library would be complete, nor botanist satisfied, without a visit to Western Australia during the Springtime with a wildflower guide in hand! Each locality has its own unique set of wildflowers, a sample of which is included in special beds at Kings Park. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/05/favourite-late-19th-century-gardens-in-australia/. I wish we had had this guide with us during our visit in 2008! See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/guide-to-the-wildflowers-of-western-australia/s-n780975601914.aspx.

Field Guide Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria by Tony Bishop 1996

The number and diversity of orchids is so vast, that it is worth having a specialised book on these beautiful little plants. We had a number of different orchids on our Dorrigo trees and rocks, like the sweetly scented Orange Blossom Orchids, Sarcochilus falcatus, and the delicate Dagger Orchids, Dendrobium pugioniforme, and Box Orchids, Dendrobium aemulum.

In Victoria, we also really enjoyed hunting for terrestrial orchids at the Grampians, as well as Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road each year, when a specific area was fenced off during the Spring Wildflower Festival and marked with identification flags to aid the search. I remember dragging my daughter and her non-botanically inclined boyfriend along one year and watching the little old ladies taking them under their wing was priceless!

We also really loved seeing the wonderful Spring display of Rock Orchids, Dendrobium speciosum, on the cliffs of the Merrica River last year. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/. They brought back many fond memories for Ross of the King Orchids on the cliffs of his childhood home in South-East Queensland. He adores their scent, which is very similar to that of the flowers of another rainforest vine, Ripogonum scandens.

This comprehensive guide covers the lot from descriptions of Horned Orchids, Donkey Orchids and Hare Orchids; Bird Orchids, Duck Orchids and Beak Orchids; Lizard Orchids; Mosquito, Midge and Gnat Orchids; Onion and Leek Orchids; Greenhoods, Ladies’ Tresses and Helmet Orchids; Elbow Orchids and Parsons’ Bands; Fairy Orchids and Sun Orchids; and Waxlips,Tongue and Beard Orchids, to name but a few!

Each genus and its species are described with general remarks about the genus and specific details on each species, including common and scientific names, flowering season, description, distribution and habitat; identification features and similar species, all supported by excellent colour photographs and identification keys, though it still doesn’t make the task any easier, as so many of them are alike!!!!

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The last two books are very pertinent to our local area now.

Native Plants of the Blue Mountains by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham 1995

I always love visiting the Blue Mountains, especially in Spring, when all the wildflowers are in full bloom, not to mention all the wonderful gardens!

The sandstone plateau supports many vegetation communities: eucalypt woodland and open forest; tall open forest and closed forest; heath and cliff-faces; and swamps and stream communities. There are over 1500 species of flowering plants in the Blue Mountains National Park, including 20 endemic plants species and 72 rare or threatened plants.

After a brief description of the general area, the book is divided into each of these plant communities, with a general description and photo, followed by detailed entries (including a description; preferred habitat and family name) of all the plant species within those communities on the left page, with photos of each species on the right page. For more on the flora of the Blue Mountains. It is also worth consulting: http://www.waratahsoftware.com.au/wpr-flora-bluemountains.shtml.

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Kosciuszko Alpine Flora by Alex Costin, Max Gray, Colin Totterdell and Dane Wimbush 2000

Back on Australia Day 2005, the family enjoyed the wonderful 22 km Main Range Walk from Charlotte’s Pass up to Hedley Tarn, Blue Lake, Club Lake, Lake Albina and Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, then back via the old road.

There were masses of wildflowers (Lake Albina particularly stole my heart!) and still patches of snow, despite being High Summer! We bought this book to help us identify all the photographed wildflowers, little realizing that years later, we would be residents of the Far South Coast of New South Wales, within a morning’s drive of this very special alpine area!

The photographs in this book are superb, many having been taken on beautiful clear sunny days, unlike our 2005 trip, which still included a fair proportion of mist and cloud! It is a very interesting and informative book, with chapters on alpine and subalpine areas; the evolution of the Kosciuszko Alpine Area; the human history of the area and its impact on the Kosciuszko flora; the plants and plant communities, including montane and subalpine communities; the alpine communities of feldmark; heaths; herb fields; grassland; bog and fen; introduced species; and distribution and succession in alpine communities. There are also excellent maps and profiles of the area.

The rest of the book is devoted to the 212 native species, subspecies and varieties of ferns and flowering plants in the Kosciuszko Alpine Area. There is an introductory table with species and common names, as well as growth form, habitat, distribution and page number, followed by beautiful photographs of each plant species in its habitat. I look forward to doing more alpine walks next Summer!

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Flowers of the South Coast and Ranges I-III by Don and Betty Wood 1998-1999 *

While we have yet to purchase this set of books, I have often browsed them and we will definitely be adding them to our library over time, as they are THE guides to our local flora on the Far South Coast of NSW. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-ranges-i/wb9780958577205.aspx.

http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-ranges-ii/wb9780958577212.aspx.

http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-rangers-iii/wb9780958577229.aspx.

Even though fungi are not plants, I will include them at the end of this post, as they inhabit a similar world!

A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia by AM Young 2005

I love looking for fungi, especially on wet Autumn days, when not much else is in flower! They can look quite exotic and have such a wide diversity of form, colour and texture, as well as a fascinating life history!

I find them all endlessly fascinating from the puffballs and jelly fungi (ear shaped Auricularia; brain-like Tremella and the bright yellow pikes of Calocera) to the giant bracket fungi, delicate coral fungi, trumpet-shaped Cantharellus and stinkhorn fungi – the Aseroë and meshed Colus, the earth stars and cone-shaped, honeycombed Morchella. They vary from white and creams to browns, reds, yellows, greens and even blues and purples, as well as having amazing stripes, spots and patterns. Some are even luminescent, though I have yet to see one!

It’s difficult to choose, but I think my favourites are the white spotted bright red and extremely toxic Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria), the fairy toadstools of childrens’ books; the quaint Earth Stars Geastrum triplex and the Red Starfish Fungus, Aseroë rubra, with yes!, its bright red starfish-like double arms, waving at the top of its body.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_0939This is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, about which is still very little is known! This book is only concerned with macrofungi, the fungi whose finer structures can be seen without a microscope (as opposed to microfungi-like moulds) and at the time of publication, there were 20 000 to 25 000 species of macrofungi in Australia, of which 60 per cent are unknown, and yet they perform an essential role in the life cycle of all living matter, being the prime agents of decomposition and the recycling of nutrients and elements.

They also have important mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of other shrubs and trees like eucalypts, casuarinas and wattles, as well as being an important animal food resource.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948The introductory chapters explores the fungal organism and anatomy (we only see the fruiting bodies); fungal reproduction and spores, which also display a wide variety of shape and texture; the difference between toadstools and mushrooms; the divisions within macrofungi : Ascomycetes (yeasts; truffles and morels; ); Basidiomycetes (the majority of bushland fungi, including cultivated mushrooms); and Myxomycetes (slime moulds); and collecting, describing and preserving fungi.

It includes interesting fungal facts about fairy rings; luminescence, as in the Ghost Fungus of South-East Queensland rainforests, which are the favourite food of Giant Land Snails; mycorrhizal relationships; fungal-infected caterpillars; and their role in the diet of Australian marsupials and reptiles, as well as that of humans!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10 The book then has a black-and-white illustrated key  for all the different types of fungi, but because so many fungi have yet to be identified and the book only describes less than 200 species, the keys serve more to indicate groups of species or genera, then refers to the relevant sections of the book. Because the number of Agarics or Gilled Fungi is quite large, they have been divided on their location or food source: forest/ woodland (wood, leaf litter, soil); grassland; animal remains; and dung. There is also a toxicity key (most important for those adventurous souls out there!).BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_0962 The main body of the book is then devoted to species descriptions – their common names; fruiting bodies; spores; habitats; distribution and notes, backed up by black-and-white illustrations and a central section of superb colour photographs. Did you know there was a fungi called a Curry Punk, that Stinkhorn Fungi emit the odour of rotting meat to attract flies for spore dispersal or that the fruiting body is 90 per cent water and is totally for spore production and dispersal. It is such an interesting book and an essential component of the natural history library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (524)

Note: You will notice that I have included an asterisk * next to some of the books mentioned. These are books, which are on our bucket list, which we would love to purchase over time,  which leads me to my final recommendation! If you are visiting the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, an excellent bookshop for natural history and gardening books is the Botanical Bookshop at Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St., Acton ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6257 3302. Opening times are : 9:30am to 4:30pm 7 days a week (Closed Christmas Day).  You can also order books online at  http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au.

To see us through the Winter, over the next 5 weeks, I will be focusing on other natural history and environmental books in our library, after which I will have an update of the Winter Garden and resume the normal format of posts on different types of roses, special rose gardens to visit and more interesting books on history, art and architecture, poetry and travel !

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant

House

Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens

Shed

Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/12/13/wonderful-wonboyn/) in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/18/south-east-forests-national-park/).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!

Mt Imlay National Park

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

Geology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eriostemon virgatus

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

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

South East Forests National Park

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

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

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

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

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Heavily forested slope and escarpment

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

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The old homestead

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

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Red-Necked Wallaby
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Another local resident!

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

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Sphagnum Moss

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

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Southern Swamp with waterlilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Colourful fungi in leaf litter

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

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Wombat hole

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

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Magpie
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Ground Thrush

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

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

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

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

Hinterland Dry Grassy Forest

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

Wet Gully Fern Forest

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

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

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

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Our destination : Wolumla Peak

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

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Fire-Spotting Tower

We could see Merimbula (photos 1-4) and Pambula (photo 5) and the coast to the east and south;BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1431BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1433BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1449BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1579BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1434 the escarpment behind to the west and to the north, our own little village of Candelo.BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1452BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1451 The vegetation was lovely- Fireweed Grounsel Senecio linearifolius, white and golden everlasting daisies, red heath, wattle…BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1460BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1468BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1457BlogSEForestsNP20%ReszdIMG_1456