Beautiful Bithry

Bithry Inlet, at the mouth of Wapengo Lake, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, is another favourite beauty spot in Summer.BlogBithry20%IMG_8810 BlogBithry20%IMG_8837Its shallow waters are perfect for families with young children, as well as fishermen (who catch bream, salmon, mulloway and flathead) and birdwatchers.BlogBithry20%IMG_8815BlogBithry20%IMG_8851BlogBithry20%IMG_8881 In the photo above is a lone puffer fish, while the photos below shows a congress of Pied Oystercatchers, discussing the latest weather!BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.10.22BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.09.16 Here is a photo of our map to give you an idea of its location!BlogBithry20%IMG_8898

This area also has an interesting historical component, of which we were unaware on our first two visits. We always knew that the land adjoining Bithry Inlet, the property called Penders, had been donated by Ken Myers and Sir Roy Grounds to the New South Wales Government for incorporation into Mimosa Rocks National Park, but did not realize that it contained a number of significant structures and areas that the general public could explore, as indicated by the map on the interpretive signs at the site:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.04.57 They include: the Myer House and precinct (though this is off-limits when booked out in holiday times); the Barn and Geodesic Dome; the Bum Seat, The Point, the picnic table and various sculptures and structures like the old Wind Tower; the Forest Plantation; the Orchard and Lake; and the various coastal walks, including a 2 Km walk to Middle Beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.44BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.49 Each area is well-signposted with interpretive signs seen above (which were produced by The Interpretive Design Company, based on NPWS brand templates, and can also be accessed on http://interpretivedesign.com.au/portfolio/wayfinding/wayfinding-signs/. They give maps and information about the history and all the personalities involved. Here is a brief summary!

Kenneth Baillieu Myers (1921-1992) was the Director and Chairman of the famous Myer Emporium, which had been established by his father Sidney, a Russian immigrant, in Melbourne in 1911. His background and the development of this iconic business is an amazing story in itself. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/myer-simcha-sidney-7721.

Like his father, Kenneth was a successful businessman, a patron of the arts, humanities and sciences and a great philanthropist, being heavily involved with and donating to a wide number of institutions, including:

The Howard Florey Institute for medical science research;

Canberra’s National Library, of which he was chairman from 1974 to 1982;

The National Capital Planning Committee;

The Australian Universities Commission;

The Australian Broadcasting Commission, of which he was chairman from 1983 to 1986; and

The National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian Arts Centre, which he chaired from 1965 to 1989.

For more information about Kenneth, it is worth reading his biography, The Many Lives of Kenneth Myer by Sue Ebury 2008. See: https://www.mup.com.au/books/9780522855463-the-many-lives-of-kenneth-myer , as well as : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/lifestyle/life-in-the-business-of-giving/news-story/89849fe8aa80c5bcc133ba4bc4e5e074.

During his time at the National Gallery of Victoria, he developed a close friendship with Sir Roy Grounds, the architect of the Victorian Arts Centre, built in 1968. They shared each other’s visions and design philosophies, as well as a love of nature, conservation and creativity.

Sir Roy Burman Grounds (1905-1981) was a pivotal figure in the development of Modernism in Australian house design. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grounds-sir-roy-burman-12571. Famous for the design of the Victorian Arts Centre, which won the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture Gold Medal in 1968, he received a knighthood in 1969. He was fascinated by idealistic geometric forms and strongly believed in nature as a central influence in his creative process, both tenets which he was able to fully explore in the building of his structures at Penders.

Roy Grounds initially purchased the 544 acre (224 hectares) property in May 1964, but he and Ken Myers became tenants in common with equal shares in 1966. The land, which stretched from Bithry Inlet south to Middle Beach, was predominantly covered in spotted gum and mahogany forest with an understorey of macrozamias, though much of it had been cleared to graze dairy cattle. For historical information about the property, see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/cmpFinalPenders02Historical.pdf. By January 1965, the Myers and Grounds families were camping at Penders.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.27.15The first structure built at Penders was a simple slab seat at The Point, affording panoramic views over the sea and entrance to Bithry Inlet (first photo) and back over the inlet to Wapengo Lake (second photo).BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.00.52BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.31 The seat was built from 1964-1965 from slabs, salvaged from an enormous tree felled before their arrival at Penders, with small log rounds acting as low stools and tables.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.32.26In 1965, Roy Grounds submitted plans for a barn,which was built with the help of locals, Bob Hunter and Nev Whittle, and which Roy and his wife, Betty, then proceeded to use as a holiday house. It’s a delightful structure and is also known locally as The Tepee!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.34.56BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.20 Based on a nonagon (nine sides), The Barn was built from spotted gum logs, cut on site and treated with an early version of the Tanalith process, while the floor is made of small timber rounds from off-cuts, thus reducing waste (second photo below).BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.38The walls and ceiling are formed by bright yellow blinds, which were raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys, to control light, weather and cross-ventilation and allow a harmonious union between nature and the built environment. They billow like sails in the wind and at night were a canvas for red and gold reflections from the flickering fire!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.50Originally, the barn had a sod roof of yellow daisies in amongst Kikuya grass, but unfortunately, it became a home to bush rats and the weight of the roof in wet weather caused sagging of the roof and splaying of the barn supports, threatening imminent collapse! This is a photo of the original sod roof from the interpretive board.BlogBithry2517-07-25 13.05.05 It was replaced by a corrugated yellow fibreglass roof, which acted as a permanent beacon of golden light, which could be seen from Wapengo Lake, until it too was replaced with the current roof in 1993. Below is a photo of the inside of the roof:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.40Inside, there was a wood stove and hot water service; a septic system; a sunken bathroom; a battery room, housing a dozen 12 volt car batteries, storing power from an 11 metre tall wind tower beyond the Point; and even a kitchen sink!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.27.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.51 The Wind Tower was built by Nev Whittle in 1964 from untreated stringybark poles in a tripod construction, braced at intervals, with a ladder attached and 3 wind blades on the top. A 32 volt DC generator was housed in a shed at the base of the windmill, with wires leading underground to the battery room of the Barn. Water was pumped in from tanks and dams.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.01Outside the Barn is a outdoor table and bench, the Marr Bench and Table, so called because they were designed and built by Marr Grounds, Roy’s son, also an architect, sculptor and educator, being the Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design and Art in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sydney until 1985. See: http://www.marrgrounds.com.au.

BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.21.07BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.12 We ate our picnic there, accompanied by a rather quiet swamp wallaby.BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.37BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.47Nearby  is the Bum Seat, also designed by Marr, another wonderful spot to dream and contemplate and admire the stunning Bithry Inlet! The Bum Seat is a simple timber slab, inscribed with the imprints of two large and two smaller female and male bottoms. Marr also erected a number of statues around the grounds, as well as a few utility buildings.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.22.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.11BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.48The nearby Geodesic Dome was constructed by Roy after the Barn to house his carpentry tools and then, Betty’s vegetable and herb garden.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.45 Its form is based on the repetitive use of a single geometric shape, the triangle, with the three ends of tanalith-treated saplings, each meeting another 5 triangles, the hub giving the dome its structural stability and protected by galvanised Tomlin garbage tin lids. Eighty percent of the dome was enclosed using panels of yellow sail cloth, the north facing aspect glazed with clear acrylic and was heated by the battery system, allowing the cultivation of pawpaws!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.42.12Being passionate about conservation and environment, the Myers and Grounds planted many trees to revegetate the previously logged site and  in 1966, started a small scale commercial timber production, using a Tanalith treatment process (using Copper azole). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_preservation. By the mid-1970s, eucalypt plantations were established on one third of the property, being cared for and maintained by John and Mary Cremerius, who were originally employed to clean up the degraded site, with a team of seven foresters under the supervision of Lindsay Pryor, a botanist and expert in eucalyptus taxonomy, who founded the Australian National Botanic Garden. By 1982, there were 1050 trees planted to each hectare and today, there are over 60 000 trees in various stages of growth.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.30.23BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.00.59The Myer House was designed by Sir Roy Grounds for Ken and his first wife, Prue, and their five children, and built between 1969 and 1970 by Kingsley Koellner, with the help of George Hoylands, of Bega. Below are some photos of the Myer House and Precinct, including the tennis court, outdoor table and path down to the beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.06BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.09.42BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.19.29 Ken and Prue divorced in 1977, Ken remarrying a Japanese artist, Yasuko Hiraoka (1945-1992), later that year. Ken and Yasuko modified the house by adding a series of infilled spaces to the perimeter verandah. They also moved the kitchen from the entrance hall, which was refitted to allow the Japanese practice of removing one’s shoes before entering the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.08.53BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.18.39Yasuko shared Ken’s passion for the natural world, working on the vegetables and herbs, while Ken pruned the fruit trees and roses.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.42.17 I love the netted Orchard with its huge old camellias and old gnarled fruit trees,

 

although it’s all a bit the worse for wear these days, allowing previously prohibited access by kangaroos like this huge fellow!BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.08.14 While they lived there, they were virtually self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, with supplies topped up by the produce of the Cremerius garden and the odd spot of fishing.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.45BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.26 The orchard was watered from the nearby dam, a very peaceful spot covered in water lilies. In 1983 and 1985, Yasuko’s father, Masa Suke Hiraoka, laid out a small nine-hole golf course nearby, the first tee marked by a timber block with his initials, MH. The area is slowly regenerating since revegetation work was carried out in 1993.BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.03.50BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.06.27 Unfortunately, Ken and Yasuko died in a light airplane crash, when on a fishing expedition, in Alaska at the end of July 1992. There is a lovely memorial site to their memory up on the ridge in the forest. Joanna Baevski, Ken’s daughter, became the lessee of the Myers precinct on their death and from 1993 to 1994, added a bedroom for her daughter on the north-east corner of the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.35BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.24BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.40Sir Roy Grounds and Kenneth Myer had offered Penders to the New South Wales State Government back in 1973, on the basis that it would be reserved as National Park. It was officially gifted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in 1976, being incorporated into the 5802 hectare Mimosa Rocks National Park. Marr Grounds and his daughter became the lessees of the Ground’s precinct after Roy’s death in 1981, with Marr being the primary occupant and caretaker till 2011. The blinds of the Barn were replaced in 1984 after 20 years of gales and Marr dismantled the windmill in 1996, leaving three inclined posts as a sculptural relic and installed a series of commemorative lead plaques across the site after Ken’s death.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.16BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.09In 1981, the Barn was placed on the Register of the National Estate. In 1991, it  was classified by the National Trust and included on its register and in 1998, the Barn, Geodesic Dome and the site of the former timber preservation works were added to the NSW State Heritage Inventory as an example of coastal forest regeneration, a plantation timber production and experimental architecture.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.39The final parcel of land of 20 hectares was handed over to NPWS in 2011 on the expiry of the Myer and Grounds’ leases. In 2012, the Myer House underwent extensive renovation work, restoring the interiors to their original style, and is now available to the general public for short-term stays for up to 12 people. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/myer-house. In 2013, Penders was added to the State Heritage Register.

We loved exploring the history of the area, as well as doing the 2 Km walk south to Middle Beach. See: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/middle-lagoon-walking-track. The track follows the coast through grassland (first two photos) and into the forest with its beautiful misshapen tree trunks (3rd and 4th photos), across cliff tops, ridges and gullies, past the Middle Beach Trig (5th photo) and Stinking Bay, so called named for the dead fish which accumulate in the bay, to the lovely ocean beach (6th photo), lagoon (7th photo) and rock platforms (8th photo). Here are some photos from our walk in July 2017.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.40.07BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.50.06BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.53.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.12.08BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.00.50BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.44.25BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.55.32BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.52.57 En route, we were lucky enough to see, not just one, but three echidnas! According to the National Park Ranger, who we also met along the way, echidnas mate in Winter, often forming trains of up to 10 male echidnas following a female, and their sighting often foretells rain and yes, we did indeed get rain two days later!BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.20.12 For more on Penders , see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5053623.

There is also an audiotape on : http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/05/21/3507120.htm.

Next week, we return to my craft library with a post on my favourite Drawing and Art books!

 

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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A Slice of History : Moogareeka Inlet, Ford Headland and Moon Bay

Last week, I wrote primarily about Tathra Headland and the township. Now that the holiday period is just about over, I thought I would finish it with a post on the northern end of Tathra Beach, where the Bega River meets the sea. This is also my last Thursday post for the time being, as I really do need to get some work done! But the Tuesday posts will continue in a similar weekly format : a monthly feature plant; a favourite garden post; recipes or local beauty spots and a monthly garden post.

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The Bega River meets the sea
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Low tide

The Bega River (48.6 km long) starts at the confluence of the Bemboka River and the delightfully-named Tantawangalo Creek at Moran’s Crossing. It travels east, then north north-east to Bega, where it is joined by the Brogo River, then continues south-east, then east to its mouth at the Tasman Sea via Moogareeka Inlet, 4 km north of Tathra.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.18.17BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.14.18BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-28 10.25.09Moogareeka Inlet enters at the northern end of Tathra Beach and is the start (and southernmost point ) of Mimosa Rocks National Park.

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View south from the northern end of tathra Beach back to Tathra Wharf and township
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The shallow waters of Moogareeka Inlet and the bridge
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Moogareeka Inlet
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Such a tranquil place…at least when this photo was taken!

It is very shallow and sandy and a haven for birdwatchers. Birds include : sea eagles, pelicans, little terns, crested terns, pied oyster catchers, red capped plovers, royal spoonbills, cormorants, rails, herons, rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and yellow-tailed black cockatoos.

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Royal Spoonbills mine-sweeping!
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Rainbow Lorikeet enjoying the banksias
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The resident birdlife : Pelicans, cormorants, crested terns and sea gulls
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Red-capped Dotterels on Tathra Beach, sheltering from the wind
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White-faced Heron fishing in Moogareeka Inlet
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Pied Oyster Catcher fishing with the heron
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Pelicans are one of my favourite sea birds!
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Juvenile Butcher Bird learning picnic etiquette!

Fishermen also love the inlet, where they can catch:  bream, dusky flathead, estuary perch, luderick, whiting, black fin, yellow fin, jewfish, mullet, tailor and bass. There are prawns in season, as well mussels and oysters on the rocks. A veritable feast indeed!

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Steamed mussels for dinner!

BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 16.20.52The area has a rich aboriginal history. With all this abundance of seafood and fruits of the forest, the Yuin people led rich lives and tended to be less mobile than their cousins from the interior, who used to visit. Moogareeka Inlet was the end-point for a major travel route from the Monaro Tableland to the coast and was a popular camp for aborigines. Evidence includes :

  • Bunan Ground (raised ring of stones used in male initiation ceremonies) in the Moogareeka-Moon Bay area
  • Nearby rock shelter with occupation deposits
  • Fish trap in Lower Bega River, noted by George Robinson in 1844
  • Extensive middens at Moon Bay

Unfortunately, a road was built in the 1850s along the north side of the Bega River to access these middens, which were then carted away and crushed by the early settlers to make lime, used in mortar for the building boom in the recently gazetted township of Bega. There were probably other aboriginal artefacts (eg burials in the aeolian sands, isolated stone artefacts and scarred trees), but much would have been destroyed by logging, clearing and early cultivation.

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Oyster-lined rocks on Moogareeka Inlet
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Offerings from Tathra Beach : pippies, cockles, mussels, oysters, brooch and tapestry shells, scallops, abalones and ear shells, keyhole limpets, spindle and jingle shells and mud whelks. We were mystified by the red and purple, highly scented seed pods- perhaps they were wedding confetti?

The first encounter between aborigines and Europeans occurred in 1797, after the wreck of the ‘Sydney Cove’ with 3 survivors finally making it to Sydney after travelling up the coast. By the 1840s, most aboriginal men were employed as agricultural labourers or in the whaling industry, while the women worked as domestic servants or bore children to the occupiers of their land.

In 1843, former convict Fred Moon landed with sheep at a nearby bay, which later bore his family name, Moon Bay. He called his sheep property ‘Riverview’, as it was situated on the prominent headland overlooking the mouth of the Bega River.

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‘Riverview’ on headland at the mouth of the Bega River
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‘Riverview’ with Tathra and Tathra Wharf in the background
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Looking south to Tathra from ‘Riverview’ over the mouth of the Bega River
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Beach below ‘Riverview’ on Moogareeka Inlet

Over the years, there were a succession of owners and a large variety of agricultural enterprises from sheep and cattle grazing to dairy farming, orcharding and vegetable growing. The last owner, Mr Neil Ford, was even part of a government-sponsored scheme to grow drugs for pesticide manufacture. The old property is now known as Ford Headland.

The  variety of enterprises is reflected in the large number of sheds, aviaries, pens, stockyards, coops, cages and fences. There are also the remains of the old 1890s house.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.41.41BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.06.51‘Riverview’ (34 ha) was acquired by National Parks on 2nd October 1992 under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme (1973), which allowed for the purchase of coastal areas of significant cultural and natural heritage values. It is one of the most significant former farming properties in Mimosa Rocks National Park.

It is always a fascinating spot to visit, as I love old, wild, overgrown gardens! An assessment by National Parks in 1999 identified over 80 exotic plant species, including an avenue of Golden Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), ornamental shrubs and the remains of orchards and vegetable gardens.

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Black-eyed Susan vine climbing into a tree
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Looking up to ‘Riverview’ from Moogareeka Inlet
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The old driveway

Invasive species that have escaped into the surrounding native vegetation include Periwinkle (Vinca major), Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata), Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia sp) and Passionflower (Passiflora sp).

Potentially invasive species include Cassia (Senna pendula), Privet (Ligustrum
spp), Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) and Giant Reed (Arundo donax). The area contains minor infestations of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sp), Blackberry (Rubus sp), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) and Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albifolia).

There is such a sense of history and it is wonderful imagining what the lives of the early settlers would have been like before modern day roads and bridges!!! I think that it would have been a fantastic place to grow up and explore!BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 13.02.25The shallowness of the water in Moogareeka Inlet make it an ideal spot for families and kids. There are boat launching ramps, a playground and BBQ and picnic facilities. Water sports include power boating, water skiing, wind surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing and sailing. Here are 2 keen fishermen:BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 13.23.46BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 13.53.43Between Moogareeka Inlet and Wajurda Point , there are 3 small beaches, dominated by rocky reefs and backed by steep 20-30 m high bluffs. It is fun exploring the ridges and finding routes down to the beach, when the tide is too high to make it around the rocks.

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Mouth of the Bega River
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Looking back south to the mouth of the Bega River and Tathra Beach
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Walking north from the mouth of the Bega River
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Sheer cliffs add to the challenge of exploring this coastline
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Beach just to the south of Moon Bay

Here are some photos of the wonderful geology:BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.14.48BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.12.49BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.22.38BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-11 15.09.48BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-08-30 11.12.28Moon Bay lies 500m south-west of Wajurda Point and forms a semi-circle 200m wide and 270 m long. The beach faces east and is well protected from the winds, so it is a popular spot for families ( as well as local nudists apparently!). The beach does shelve steeply and rapidly, so care should be taken when swimming. There are rips after periods of high waves. It has a low backing fore-dune and a small backing valley.

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Looking at the northern end of Moon Bay
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Looking at the southern end of Moon Bay

BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.38.42BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.39.02There are fascinating cliffs at the southern end of the beach – a geologist’s delight!BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.42.11BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 11.42.37BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-05-10 14.16.15

The large rock ledges projecting into the bay are perfect for rock fishing, especially at dusk. Fishermen catch bream, flathead, salmon, mulloway and gummy sharks.BlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-06-19 12.01.51

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Southern end of Moon Bay

At the northern end of the beach are remains of a log slide and mooring site, where timber and farm produce from ‘Riverview’ were loaded onto barges for transfer to waiting ships in the early days. Evidence includes the rusted stubs of mooring rings, grooves in the cliff face and a cutting.

There are 3 access points to Moon Bay :

1.Wajurda Point / Moon Bay Carpark : end of 2 km dirt road from Tathra-Bermagui Road.

There are 2 walks :

Wajurda Point Lookout (500 m) : magnificent views over nelson Lagoon to Picnic Point

Northern end of Moon Bay (250 m) : steep track with stepsBlogFordHdld SliceHx 20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.17.112. Link walk between former car park at the eastern end of Old Moon Bay Rd via the Moogareeka Fire Trail to Bay Drive Carpark.

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Moogareeka Fire Trail

3. Bay Drive Car Park, Moogareeka Inlet :

Old ‘Riverview’ driveway (600 m), then a 700 m track through the old property to a signposted walking track down to the southern end of Moon Bay.

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View of Moogareeka Inlet from Bay Drive
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Looking towards ‘Riverview’ from Bay Drive car park
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Walk from ‘Riverview’ downhill to Moon Bay
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Walking towards Moon Bay along the flat
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The Neighbourhood Watch!
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The end of the walk : Moon Bay
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Scarred old tree from early days

We usually do this walk first, then return to Bay Drive car park via the Moogareeka Fire Trail. It is a lovely walk, especially as you descend on the old dirt road through the forest with tantalizing glimpses of Moogareeka Inlet through the trees. We’ve seen cyclists, a tiger snake, but no nudists as yet!

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Acacia longifolia
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Stunning fruit of Pittosporum revolutum
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This sleepy Tiger Snake gave us a bit of a fright on our Mothers’ Day walk last year
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We felt much safer with this little fellow!

Sapphire Dreaming

The Far South Coast of NSW, from Bermagui to Eden, is known as the Sapphire Coast and it is easy to see why, when you view that blue, blue sea with rolling green farmland running straight down to the beach and discover hidden gems like Hidden Valley, which lies just to the north of Bunga Head and Aragunnu, which I covered in a previous post ‘Summer Dreaming’, and which is also part of Mimosa Rocks National Park.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.24.44This magical stretch of coastline from Goalen Head in the north to Bunga Head in the south, can be accessed via Hergenhans Rd, 2.8 km off the Tathra-Bermagui Rd. We first visited this area last May and were blown away by the spectacular beauty of the place. The track through the paddock leads down to Bunga Beach and a small creek, which leads back to Bunga Lagoon.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.39.36BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.40.49BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8742BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.45.48Across the creek is a large rocky outcrop, which serves as a wonderful vantage point from which to plan your explorations. To the north, Goalen Head (1st and 2nd photo below) and the south, Bunga Head (3rd and 4th photo below).BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.49.54BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.50.14BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.50.43BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.46.19We  started by walking down Bunga Beach South to Hidden Valley and Bunga Head, then returned along an old farm track to Bunga Beach North and Goalen Head.

Bunga Beach South is a sandy beach 1.3km long, and is a breeding site of Hooded Plovers (Thinornis rubricollis). We saw a National Park sign the other day, which said there were less than 50 Hooded Plovers left in NSW! Here are a few photos of our journey down the beach. The rocks and their weathering patterns were amazing!BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.16.34BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.14.04BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.16.10BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.14.41BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.13.38BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.17.01BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.19.41BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.23.54BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.29.40BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.36.32BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.42.07The Southern end of the beach is 370m long and  has a small creek at its northern end, which feeds into Hidden Valley. Bunga Head lies to the south with its hexagonal columns and dramatic cliffs.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.59.00BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.49.11BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.50.09BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.54.59BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 12.51.39Hidden Valley is well-named, as it is tucked in behind the northern side of Bunga Head and can only be accessed on foot via an old farm track through regenerating bushland from the Bunga South car park at the end of Hergenhans Rd or via Bunga Beach South. There is an informal old track (3km) over the 127m high Bunga Head, but it is not easy to find and is not promoted by NPWS, due to cultural sensitivitiesBlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.01.06BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.09.47Hidden Valley was an old farm and its old sheds, toilet and rainwater tank still remain. Past clearing, grazing, fencing and the establishment of exotic pastures, earthen dams and vehicle tracks have destroyed much of the natural ecology and left the area with weeds like Kikuyu, fireweed, blackberries and Arum lilies.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.04.11BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.06.56The 105 ha property was gazetted in 1994 under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme, which was established by the NSW Government in 1973 to purchase coastal freehold properties with significant cultural or natural heritage values. Gradually, the area is being revegetated by native coastal banksias (photo above) and coast wattles. There are also a few remnant Forest Red Gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis ), which used to cover much of the area originally, and a few Cabbage Palms (Livistona australis), representing this species’ southernmost limit in NSW.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.07.43BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 13.31.11We are really looking forward to camping here in Summer. There is a large grassed area and a wood barbecue and the beach below is 250m wide and protected by both headlands from the southerly and northerly winds. Apparently, you can catch bream, flathead, salmon, mulloway and gummy sharks.

After taking the inland route back to our starting point, we then set out to explore Bunga Beach North and Goalen Head.

Bunga Beach North is 200m long and has a cleared grassy slope behind and a rocky reef in the centre. It too has black rounded volcanic boulders. The small creek, which leads to Bunga Lagoon, is usually blocked at its mouth, unless there has been good rain. Bunga Lagoon is home to many local and visiting birds.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.45.07BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8795Goalen Head is composed of highly folded and faulted sedimentary rocks like slate, siltstone, shale and greywacke laid down during the Ordovician Period (which was 430-490 Million years ago). During this time, volcanic gabbro rock intruded into the sedimentary layers.The aborigines used the gabbro for tool production.BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8747BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.44.12BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8748BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8788Today, this gabbro is covered by deep fertile well-drained chocolate soils on the crests and slopes, well-drained loams near bedrock outcrops and poorly drained black earth in the drainage lines.

The original native vegetation communities are thought to have included :

  • Bega Dry Grass Forest
  • Coastal Scrub
  • Bunga Head Rain Forest
  • Coastal Warm Temperate Rainforest
  • Dune Dry Shrub Forest and
  • Coastal Foothills Dry Shrub Forest.

Sadly, none of these original communities remain, due to extensive clearing and grazing, though there are still some remnant Forest Red Gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis). Regrowth thickets of Coastal Banksia and Coast Wattle are reestablishing along the seaward edge of the headland, but the area is predominantly grassy : dense swards of Themeda Grassland, dominated by Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis) and introduced Kikuyu Grass (Pennisetum clandenstinum). This grassland is highly disturbed, but still significant, due to the restricted distribution of this community in the region.BlogSapphire dreamg20%Reszd2015-05-05 11.43.50BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8750We have seen many kangaroos grazing (top photo above), but apparently the Eastern Ground Parrot also feeds on the Goalen Head Grasslands, as do rabbits and the odd deer. There are also numerous weeds including fireweed, blackberry, sea spurge and sea rocket.

Goalen Head was also an old property, which was purchased under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme. The 104 ha farm (Murrah, Goalen Head) was gazetted in 2001 and added a further 3km of coastline to the National Park.BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8786BlogSapphire dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8782From the headland, there are excellent views north to Murrah Beach ( 1st photo above) and south to Bunga Head (2nd photo above). Murrah Beach is 12 km south of Bermagui, but has very difficult access, due to the closure of the road by the owners of the private property, through which it passes. It backs onto Murrah Lagoon, a 110 ha body of shallow water, fed by the Murrah River, and has much bird life and fish, including bream, whiting, flathead, redfin, leatherjackets, mulloway and the odd gummy shark. It sounds like a really interesting spot to explore, but the only access appears to be by walking north along the coast from Goalen Head. We started to attempt this on our second visit to the area, but it is quite a long walk and really requires a whole day itself. Another hidden treasure, another day, another story …!!!

PS. The featured image on this post was a pod of more than 20 dolphins off Goalen Head.BlogBdayblessgs40%ReszdIMG_8771

 

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.

Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_2796

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