Forests,Flowers and Fairy Wrens

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blog 13

Forests, Flowers and Fairy Wrens

We have been deep in the forest on several occasions, mainly in the National Parks down here in the South East of Western Australia. We are still in the 'ups' and it’s still mostly wine – apparently the region’s climate is similar to Bordeaux.  We are skinflints and haven’t tried any of the local wines – primarily because we buy so much fuel we keep getting BOGOF deals in the Bottleshops, or we buy cleanskins (good wines – end of line offers I think – they don’t have the wine makers labels on).

The forests have been awe inspiring in both their size and the size of the trees.  We have been trying to identify the major trees – there are Jarrah forests and Karri forests and then there’s Marri and Tingle!  Great names.  We’ve got the Karris and the Tingles sussed but we can’t tell our Jarrahs from our Marris!  The prettiest tree around at the moment though must be the aptly named Christmas Tree.

We stayed in a lovely NP called Shannon, named after the town which used to be there.  It had been a logging town with a short lifespan.  They had built a dam to service the town in 1947 but by 1965 it was all over and the town was left deserted.  You can walk around the old site – no buildings left but signs and photos of where they stood, the old recreation ground now a favourite haunt of the kangaroos and the post for hole 7 (90 yards, par 3) where the golf course was.  The campsite was huge and had all mod cons but there were only 5 vans there, it’s so quiet here at the moment.  At a site in Lane Pool NP we were the only people there!  We had the toilets and camp kitchen to ourselves.

Close by was the Gloucester Tree, one of 3 Karri trees previously used as fire lookouts, now in a NP and open to the public to climb – if they have the nerve – it’s 90 metres high!  I had a go but when I got of the way up I realised I just wasn’t fit enough or strong enough to do it!  A couple of days later we were up on the Tree Top Walk at the Valley of the Giants, 40 metres up among the treetops.  John did it!!  Then there were the Tingles which you could walk through – there was a famous old Tingle that people parked their cars inside but sadly it didn’t survive that indignity.

 We stayed in a campsite nearby and saw our first Bandicoot and families of Fairy Wrens which are so sweet and beautiful, these were cobalt blue and black with long tails, though I believe there are 9 varieties of Fairy Wrens in Australia.  As usual the males have all the colour!   They also had pretty cheeky Kookaburras there!  We love the Magpies – they sound like something out of Star Wars.  They’re not related to our European Magpie, just pied plumage.

After 4 days in Albany waiting for a part for the van (cracked exhaust manifold for those technical people  - we had to wait over the weekend) we have headed slightly north to the Stirling Range NP – the first mountains we have seen since the Kimberleys.  And very impressive they are too, abruptly rising in peaks above the bush.  We had a go at walking up Bluff Knoll – 1073m – on a steep, stepped path 6km return.  We didn’t quite manage to reach the top but enjoyed the spectacular views and beautiful wildflowers.  We had missed the wildflowers on the wheatbelt – we were too late and it hadn’t been a good season because of drought conditions – but we have made up for it in this area.  Another high point, which we did reach, was the Granite Skywalk – a quite amazing feat of engineering and very exciting to get too, scrambling over rocks and climbing a ladder.

The weather is still mixed – there are hot days and cool days and thunderstorms.  The mechanic in Albany reckons ‘you can get 4 seasons in a day down here’.  I don’t think he gets out much!
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Comments

Jane Smith on

The skywalk looks amazing, and the wild flowers and trees are so diverse. Hard to imagine the heat, going to get colder again here apparantly! Going to carol concerts and drinking lots of mulled wine. Love to you both.
Jane and DaveX

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