March Feature Plants : Bush Harvest

The feature plants in March, Macrozamias and Pittosporum, are a slight departure from my usual garden plant posts, but I wanted to include a few native species and we are growing both a Macrozamia and a Pittosporum in our garden. We also consider Mimosa Rock National Park to be an extension of our garden! Plus, this is the time when both plant species are prominent in the forest with their eye-catching bright red seeds.

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Macrozamia cone and seeds: red jewels on the forest floor!

It’s March and it’s Harvest Time in the bush! The native animals in the forest are having a field day sourcing all their favourite berries. Mimosa Rocks National Park has some beautiful forests of Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), whose understorey is full of Macrozamias and Pittosporum. They are both very different in structure, reproduction, lineage, growth rates and toxicity. I shall be focusing on Macrozamia communis, Pittosporum undulatum and Pittosporum revolutum.

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Spotted Gum forest with Macrozamia understorey, Nelson Beach, Mimosa Rocks National Park

Macrozamia communisBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.49.32Name:

  • Commonly known as Burrawangs, the name given to them by the Dharuk Aborigines of the Illawarra and Sydney regions. The Dhurga aborigines of the South Coast called it : ‘Bung-go ib-bur’, meaning ‘nut’.
  • Its scientific name is derived from 2 Greek words : ‘macros’ meaning ‘large’ and zamia, referring to its genus, while its species name comes from the Latin word ‘communis’ meaning ‘common’, as these plants are abundant in dense stands.

BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3179Distribution :

  • Endemic to the East coast of NSW, it is the most common cycad, with the most extensive distribution of any cycad in NSW , ranging from Taree on the Central Coast to the Bega area, 600 km to the south.
  • They grow in coastal areas, as well as the coastal slopes of the Great Dividing Range (and occasionally the inland slopes) as far west as Mudgee.
  • It is the most southerly occurring cycad in the world and is most abundant on the South Coast of NSW, where it has the greatest overall size, cone size and population density. Near Bateman’s Bay, the stands are so extensive and dense that the ground is often obscured, though many have been cleared for urban development.
  • No other cycad in NSW, or indeed Australia, has such a great population density as Macrozamia communis.
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Macrozamia with a Cabbage-tree Palm (Livistona australis) in Murramarang National Park, just north of Bateman’s Bay

Habitat :

  • Macrozamia communis is an understorey plant in wet and dry schlerophyll forests.
  • On the South Coast of NSW, it is the dominant understorey plant in Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) forests, while on the Central Coast, it grows under forests of Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata), also known as Smooth-barked Apple. It also grows under Bangalay Gums (Eucalyptus botryoides) at Aragunnu.
  • In coastal areas, it grows on sandy soils, with its population density being greatest on stabilized sand dunes, close to the ocean, while on the coastal ranges, it grows on gravelly loams.
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Macrozamias under Bangalay Gums (Eucalyptus botryoides)
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Bird’s Nest Fern : Asplenium australasicum (left) and Macrozamias (right) at Aragunnu

History : Macrozamias are fascinating plants.They are cycads, a small group of plants with unique features and a very ancient lineage.

  • First appearing in the fossil record in the Late Permian, 250 Million years ago before the Age of Dinosaurs, they quickly spread to every continent and latitude from Siberia to the Antarctic throughout the Mesozoic Era.
  • The Jurassic period of the Mesozoic Era is in fact known as ‘the Age of Cycads’, when cycads and gingkos were the dominant plants and there are 19 extinct genera of cycads from that time.
  • Now, there are only 3 families left with 11 genera and 250 species, compared to the 300,000 species of Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants).
  • Once classified as Gymnosperm along with conifers and gingkos, cycads are now considered to be a sister group to all other living seed groups.
  • They are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and each genus has a restricted geographical range, often being limited to specialized or localized sites like areas with nutritionally deficient soil, limestone or serpentine outcrops, beach dune deposits and very steep slopes.
  • Macrozamias are endemic to Australia and have 25-32 species, depending on your source! They belong to the Family : Zamiaceae, which has 8 genera including : Dioon, Encephalartus, Macrozamia, Lepidozamia, Ceraiozamia, Microcycas, Zamia and Chigua.

Unique Features of Cycads:

  • Pachycaul stem– its soft thick trunk is mainly storage tissue with very little true wood;
  • Collaroid roots with symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria, not seen in other seed plants;
  • Large divided fern-like/ palm-like leaves with no axillary buds, like other seed plants;
  • Reproduce by seeds produced on open carophylls (seed-bearing leaves or scales), arranged in cones;
  • Cycads are dioecious– the male and female reproductive structures are on separate male and female plants;
  • Cycads have also been exploited as a food source for a long time, but require extensive processing to remove toxins, the methods differing between areas and over time.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.04.35Description:  Macrozamia communis : Medium to large cycad with a height and spread of 3m. They are very slow growing and long-lived – up to 120 years. They take 10-20 years to mature and produce cones.
Roots : Like all cycads, the roots are contractile: the sensitive growing apex of seedling is drawn below the soil surface, providing protection against drought and fires. The roots are also collaroid : the upper root rises above the ground and contains cyanobacteria, which fix atmospheric nitrogen for the cycads, in return for a stable source of fixed carbon in the form of carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis and protection from harsh environmental conditions and grazing. While cyanobacteria are capable of producing their own fixed carbon, cycad roots reach deeper into the soil and can spread over far larger areas. Nitrogen is essential for the production of genetic material and the structural and enzymatic molecules in all stages of the life cycle and is especially important in the nutritionally deficient soils of many cycads.
Stem : Only producing a single trunk with no suckers, the trunk is 30-80 cm diameter and 30-200cm tall and is typically underground, though plants on shallow soils or rocky quartzite or sandstone ridges often have a short columnar trunk.

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Subterranean caudex

Leaves : 50-100 glossy dark green, pinnately compound leaves up to 2m long,  which form a gracefully arching crown extending from a central trunk. Each leaf has 70-130 pointed leaflets (pinnae) in 2 rows and they decrease in size to sharp spines at the end of the leaf.

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Pinnately compound leaves

Reproduction: Cycads are dioecious and do not produce flowers. Male and female reproductive organs are borne on separate plants, the seeds on scales arranged in large cones (strobili) like conifers. The cones are often formed after fire. The male plant bears 1-5 cylindrical erect cones, which droop after their pollen is shed. The female plant bears 1-3  wider barrel-shaped cones, which are pollinated by Macrozamia Weevils (Tranus internatus) and mature in March, when they break apart to release 100-150 bright red-orange seeds throughout Winter. The seeds have no dormancy, so are very short-lived and subject to damage by dessication (drying-out). They are dispersed by Brush-tailed Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), who break the cones apart to eat the fleshy outer coat of the seeds without damaging the stony inner layer, so the embryo remains viable and germinates readily after dispersal. The major predator of the seeds is the Native Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes), who gnaws through the stony layer to eat the seed contents, including the embryo.

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Female cone
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Bush Tucker! But for humans, only after extensive processing!

Use :

  • Food source : The seeds have a high starch content and containing macrozamin, which is toxic to humans and livestock. It requires extensive processing to remove the toxins. The Cadigal aborigines pounded and soaked the seeds in water for a week, changing the water daily, while others soaked the seed in running stream water for several days. The pulp was then made into cakes and roasted over hot embers.
  • Tools were made from the strongly barbed leaf shafts.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.58.11Horticulture : Highly ornamental, cycads have been in cultivation for many years. There are planted in many different ways :

  • Feature Plant

: Single specimen

: Paired either side of entrances : doors, gates, driveways, like in Asia.

: In a rockery or in a tropical or desert setting, where a large crown is desired without the tall trunk of a palm.

  • Mass Plantings : ground cover
  • Containers : small gardens; patios and verandahs; bonsai specimens

Easy to cultivate and hardy, M. communis is suited to temperate and subtropical regions and can survive temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius.                         Hardiness Zone : 8b-11
They tolerate a wide range of soils, but do best in deep sandy soils, and prefer partial shade, but will adapt to full sun, so long as they get adequate water. These tough plants are drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping. They are also fire-retardant.
Good drainage is ESSENTIAL.
They grow best with a uniform and regular supply of water during the growing season and a good nutrient supply : fertilizer with an even NPK balance.                                       eg:  a regular dressing of slow release Osmocote.
They transplant readily, but as their growth is so slow, it is probably unnecessary. If transplanting, do it in late Spring and be careful of the sharp spines.

Potted Cycads  require bright light and plenty of fresh air and normal room temperature (10-27 degrees Celsius). Use soil-based potting mix with broken pottery shards in the base of the pot for good drainage and stand pots on trays of moist pebbles to get the correct humidity. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, with extra watering when the temperature is above 27 degrees Celsius and mist spray foliage occasionally. A fortnightly dressing of complete fertilizer can be applied throughout the growing season.

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Our little plant

Propogation :

: Seeds : Germinates easily without pre-treatment. Plant seed in well-drained potting soil in a shaded location and water regularly till germination in 6-24 months. Early seedling growth is very slow.
: Offsets : cut off parent plant with sharp knife, leaving as minimal a wound as possible. Treat wound with fungicide (eg sulphur), dry for 1 week, then plant into sterile medium.

Pests and Diseases

: Mealy bugs : apply an insecticide twice during growing season
: Scale insects : occasionally infest the crown. Same treatment as above or use white oil
: Macrozamia weevil : causes sporadic deaths in wild populations
: The fleshy starch-rich stems are susceptible to fungal attack and stem rot.

Pittosporum undulatumBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.16.32Name: Known by a number of names including : Sweet or Orange Pittosporum; Native Daphne; Australian Mock Orange; and Cheesewood, its scientific name is derived from the Greek words : ‘pitta’ meaning ‘pitch‘ and ‘sporos’ meaning ‘seed’, referring to the resinous sticky coating of the seeds; and the Latin word : ‘unda’, meaning ‘wave/ surge‘, referring to the wavy edge of the leaves.

Phylogeny :

  • Family : Pittosporaceae : includes Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum); Bluebell Creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) and the genus Bursaria.
  • Genus : Pittosporum : A very large genus in Australia and warmer areas like Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. There are 14 species in all states of Australia.

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Distribution and Habitat:

  • Moist gullies in rainforests and wet schlerophyll forests, as well as sheltered situations in dry schlerophyll forests and woodlands.
  • Coast and subcoastal districts of Eastern Australia from SE and Central Qld to Eastern NSW, ACT and Eastern Victoria.
  • Naturalized in Tasmania and King Island; SE South Australia; SW Western Australia; Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; as well as Southern Europe (France, Spain, Portugal); South Africa; St Helena; the Azores; India; China; Hawaii; Mexico; SW USA (California); Carribean and South America (Bolivia, Colombia and Chile).
  • Significant environmental weed and is on the Global Invasive Species Database.

Description : Large evergreen tree, usually 4-14m high with a 7m spread, creating dense shade underneath.

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Bark : Coarse grey, while younger shoots are green to reddish-brown.
Leaves: Smooth, glossy green (darker on top, paler underneath), elliptical or ovate leaves with pointed tips and entire distinctively wavy edges. They are arranged alternately on their stems or clustered at the tips of branches.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2066
Flowers : Small, creamy-white, highly fragrant, bell-shaped (tubular) flowers, borne in small terminal clusters of 4-5 flowers in Spring and Early Summer (November-January). Each flower has 5 petals, which are fused together at the base of the corolla and reflex backwards at the tips. They are  pollinated by Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).
Berries : Hard globular or slightly flattened capsules, 1cm diameter, formed in Autumn and lasting several months. They produce their first seed at 5 years old. The capsules turn from green to yellow to orange, then tan when mature, when they split open to release 20-30 sticky, smooth, red-brown, angular seeds, which are very attractive to possums, frugivorous birds and even foxes, often sticking to fur, clothing and footwear. The seeds have short to medium longevity. They germinate in abundance after fire or soil disturbance.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3177

Use : 

  • This plant contains Saponins 152 and 154, which cause dopiness and are fairly toxic to humans, but are poorly absorbed by the body, so tend to pass through without any problems. However, stock should be kept away from infested areas. Saponins are also very toxic to fish and the aborigines used to put large amounts in streams and lakes to stupefy and kill the fish.
  • The opened seeds can be boiled up to produce a gum to smother Pitosporum seedlings in fragile areas.
  • The wood has been used in the manufacture of golf clubs.

Horticulture :  Well established as a garden ornamental plant in Australia and California and also clipped into hedges and used as windbreaks. They are hardy, adaptable and quick growing. They like most acidic soils and extra moisture and prefers granite-derived soils. They can withstand extended dry periods once established and resist maritime exposure.

BUT…
It is very invasive in bushland and easily colonizes moist gullies and disturbed soil in areas of urban development. It is most invasive in areas of high rainfall. It has very rapid growth and adapts to soil with higher nutrient levels more readily than other native species. With changes in fire regimes, it out-competes fire-adapted native species. It dominates other species through dense shading, competition and its superior adaptability to changes in soil nutrients. The berries are also very attractive to birds, so it can be dispersed widely and its spread is very difficult to control. Therefore, do NOT grow near bushland! This website has information about its management especially after fire : http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_Pittosporum.htm.BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2016-02-10 10.12.09Having said all that, we did plant a specimen (see above photo) in our town garden, as the scent of the flowers is superb and despite its feral status, I am still very fond of Sweet Pittosporum! But if you live near bushland, I have included some short notes on an alternative Pittosporum species, which is also very attractive at the moment and is a much safer bet!

Pittosporum revolutumBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 14.33.24Name : Commonly known as Rough-Fruited or Yellow Pittosporum, its species name : ‘revolutum’ means ‘rolled backwards‘, as some leaves are at the edges.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2188

Distribution and Habitat : Endemic to Australia, this species mainly grows in coastal areas, west to the Blue Mountains and Muswellbrook and from sea level to 1100m. It
grows in rainforest and wet schlerophyll forests in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and in dry schlerophyll forests in the south.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2185

Description : Understorey shrub 1-3 metres high.
Leaves : Glossy dark green, ovate or oblong to elliptic leaves with entire but rarely undulate margins and arranged alternately on the stem or clustered at the end of the branch. The young leaves and the lower surface of mature leaves have a dense to sparse covering of rusty hairs, especially around the main veins, giving a slightly furry feel to the undersides of the leaf.
Flowers : Bears fragrant yellow flowers in terminal clusters in Spring. The petals reflex backwards and the sepals, inflorescence and ovary are all covered in rusty hairs.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2187
Berries :
• Slightly compound, amber or orange, ellipsoid or oval capsules with hard thick walls,which often have hairy and warty valves. They ripen in Autumn and break open to reveal numerous red-brown to bright scarlet, very sticky seeds, which are popular with birds.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2079BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.56.10

Use : Was eaten by the aborigines, but has a slightly bitter taste.

Horticulture : Its use as an ornamental plant is now gaining in popularity. Outstanding plant, even in a small garden. It prefers shady areas under large trees.

I hope you enjoy this lovely watercolour painting, painted by my daughter specifically for my Bush Harvest post. They are very cute Native Bush Rats!

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Summer Dreaming

This week, we visited Nethercote Falls, but because we will be revisiting this amazing area in late October to photograph the blooms of Rock Orchids on the cliffs, I will delay this particular post and introduce you to another of our favourite coastal beauty spots : Aragunnu and Bunga Head.Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 12.38.22Aragunnu and Bunga Head are both part of Mimosa Rocks National Park and are accessed off the coastal road half way between Tathra and Bermagui. It is a stunningly beautiful area with much variety and interest for the natural history enthusiast, as well as being popular with fishermen, divers and campers.

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These photos are of the National Park boards on site.

The Mimosa Rocks National Park Management Plan can be found here : http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20110246MimosaRocksNPfinal.pdf, but for now, here is a brief description :Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2877Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2882The geology underlying Mimosa Rocks National Park is very old. Sedimentary rocks like slate, siltstone, shale and greywacke were laid down during the Ordovician Period (430-490 Million years ago), then later  subjected to much folding and faulting, during which time they metamorphosed. These old sedimentary layers have been exposed by wave action and can be seen on the flat rock platforms jutting out into the sea.

More sediments were laid down during the Devonian period (355-410 Million years ago) and at low tide, Devonian fish fossils can be seen in the black mudrock, including some of the earliest known shark fossils. The fossil record also includes some of the earliest known club mosses and other rainforest flora. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos for these fossils, but here is some of the amazing rock !!!Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2890Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2869

During this time, rhyolite ( a viscous sticky form of lava, which flows very slowly ) was extruded over the old sedimentary rocks to a depth of over 140m to produce the columnar (hexagonal) jointing of Bunga Head and the volcanic sea stack castles of Mimosa Rocks.Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-08-20 13.54.16Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 12.11.45Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 12.07.48Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.24.06
Poorly consolidated sediments like gravels, sands and clays were also deposited during the Tertiary and Quaternary periods (the last 65 Million years). Wave action has undercut them to produce gravel beds of water-worn round pebbles of quartz and quartzite. The ‘coffee rock’ found at Aragunnu is such an example and is an eroded podzol which has been hardened by humic groundwater.Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8965Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8964Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.26.58Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.42.36Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.27.36Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 14.28.08The sandy beach at Aragunnu provides a complete contrast to the pebbly beaches and rocky cliffs of Bunga Head. Behind the sand dunes of Aragunnu, Dune Dry Shrub Forest,  dominated by Bangalay (E. botryoides), also contains :
• Coast Banksia (Banksia integrifolia),
• Saw Banksia (Banksia serrata)
• Tree Broom-Heath (Monotoca elliptica),
• Pine Heath(Astroloma pinifolium)
• Burrawangs (Macrozamia communis), and
• a groundcover of Bracken (Pteridium esculentum), grasses, sedges and forbs.Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2802Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2786Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2931Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2805 The Bunga Head Littoral Rainforest (7Ha) contains a low canopy (less than 10m tall) of:
• Lilly pilly (Acmena smithii),
• Rusty Fig (Ficus rubiginosa),
• Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) and
• Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus), as well as
• Bangalay (Eucalyptus botryoides).
The rainforest understorey includes large shrubs of Beyeria lasiocarpa, copper laurel (Eupomatia laurina) and large mock-olive (Notelaea longifolia), and a diverse range of vines, sedges and grasses. The top photo shows a Birds Nest Fern on the left and Burrawangs on the right. The bottom photo is of an Elkhorn Fern. Both the Elkhorn Fern and Birds Nest Fern are at their southernmost geographical limit.Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8971Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9024
The rhyolite ridges of Bunga Head support 30m tall messmates and silvertop ash, as well as populations of the vulnerable Chef’s Hat Correa (Correa baeuerlenii), the rare plant Myoporum bateae, the uncommon yellow wood (Acronychia oblongifolia) and Zieria sp, and an unusual community of Port Jackson Pines (Callitris rhomboidea)  and melaleucas,  mixed with orchids. These photos show the Chef’s Hat Correa at the top and a Rock Orchid below.Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9021Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9023Mimosa Rocks National Park is in a climatic transition zone between Subtropical and Warm and Cool Temperate floras. Bunga Head and Aragunnu are the southernmost limit of many remnant rainforest species, including :
• Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras),
• Small-Leaved Fig (Ficus obliqua),
• Scentless rosewood (Synoum glandulosum),
• Koda (Ehretia acuminata),
• Brittlewood(Claoxylon australe),
• Pointed Boobialla (Myoporum acuminatum),
• Large Mock Olive (Notelaea longifolia),
• Orange Thorn (Citriobatus pauciflora),
• Sweet Sarsaparilla (Smilaxglyciphylla),
• Elk Horn (Platycerium bifurcatum),
• Birds Nest Fern (Asplenium australasicum) and
• Climbing Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis sp).Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9061Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9071I loved the tangled roots and vines in this Fig forest out on one of the rocky headlands.

The wide range of vegetation types provide habitats for :
• 39 species of mammals
• 115 bird species
• 21 reptile species and
• 12 amphibian speciesBlog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9074Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2936It is worth consulting the Management Plan, especially Appendix 2 : Threatened Animal Species for a complete listing. There are 3 endangered animal species :

• Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor)
• Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis)
• Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)

The top photo is of two delightful little Hooded Plovers on Aragunnu Beach, where they breed from August to March. The bottom photo is of Crested Terns and a Silver Gull.2015-06-22 14.25.14 - CopyBlog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2811

There are also 20 vulnerable species including :

• Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)
• Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua),
• Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae),
• Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa),
• Square-tailed Kite (Lophoictinia isura),
• Osprey (Pandion haliaetus),
• Gang Gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum),
• Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) and
• Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus)

The first photo shows a pair of Pied Oyster Catchers with a pair of Hooded Plovers, both Threatened Animal Species, which breed at Aragunnu Beach. I love the bottom image of a pair of Pied Oyster Catchers. They are monogamous birds, which lay their eggs from Spring to Early Summer.Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 14.13.22Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 14.15.42Mimosa Rocks National Park is also the southernmost limit for :
• Topknot Pigeon (Lopholaimus antarcticus),
• Brown Pigeon (Macrophygia amboinensis)
• Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) and
• Variegated Wren (Malurus assimimis).

Before the arrival of Europeans in 1788, the area was occupied by the Dhurga-speaking Djiringanj tribe, one of the 3 groups of the Yuin people, who lived between the Shoalhaven River and Cape Howe, on the Victorian border, for the last 20,000 years. The Djiringang occupied the area from Narooma, south to Bega and west to the top of the range. Food was plentiful and included : fish, shellfish, stranded whales, dolphins, seals, crabs, freshwater eels, birds and their eggs, fruits, seeds, tubers, honey, mammals, lizards and grubs. Cycad (Burrawang) nuts were soaked to remove their toxins, then ground into a starchy flour, which was made into damper. These photos show the huge Cycad cones, which break open to reveal these stunning bright red seeds.Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.49.28Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.50.43The rhyolite pebble and veins of quartz provided stone for tool production and the forests had plenty of material for weapons, utensils, shelters, decoration and ceremonial purposes. The photos below show a huge aboriginal midden in the foreground. Not a bad view for a feast !!Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2899Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2898The Yuin had rich social and ceremonial lives. Groups traveled through the Far South Coast and inland over the Monaro Tableland following ancient songlines. There is an old track over Bunga Head north to Hidden Valley, another little gem. They had sophisticated exchange patterns and large ceremonial gatherings. The park has a number of important ceremonial and mythological sites of spiritual value to the local aboriginals, including middens and artifact scatters, most of which are date to 6000 years old after the last rise in sea levels.

Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.34.13Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.34.38I loved the artistic work on these interpretive boards provided by National Parks.

Aragunnu was an important spiritual place for aboriginal women , who used it as a place to give birth. It is easy to imagine aboriginal children playing in among the rocks and the shallows at the end of this beautiful beach. While we were visiting, a raven flew down to check on us and I like to think that it might carry the spirit of some former aboriginal woman.

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Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2792European settlement started in the 1830s with the arrival of timber loggers, then farmers and graziers. There were no roads and most travel was by coastal steamer from the 1850s on. Spotted gum and stringybark logged in the 1950s and 1960s were a mainstay of  the Sydney boat building industry, as well as being used to build bridges and wharves in Fiji and India. With increasing shipping came the increased risk of shipwreck and in 1863, a paddle steamer called ‘Mimosa Rocks’, which was traveling from Twofold Bay to Sydney, hit uncharted rocks off Bunga Head and sank. It has been commemorated, not only with the name of the rocks themselves, but also the name of the entire National Park, which was gazetted in 1973. The photos below show the site of the shipwreck and some old wreakage off Aragunnu Beach.Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-06-22 11.39.56Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2841The area has 50 campsites and we are looking forward to the warmer weather , so we can spend a few days there. We have visited the area on three day-trips now and each time we discover new treasures including these amazing pagoda formations, shown below ! Whether they are a reflection of the spiritual nature of the area, a form of artistic expression or merely a need to record a visit, their layout is constantly changing due to the action of waves and weathering. Its fun finding them all!Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9000Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9013Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8998Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2906Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9001