06 November, 2011

Heading West

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The Barrier Highway heading west flanked on either side by a flush of wild flowers.

(late September) The Barrier Highway heads across the Western Plains to Broken Hill and the deserts of South Australia. With the Warrumbunbles shrinking out of sight in the rear view mirror the landscape opened out with the road disappearing to a point on the horizon, the landscape becoming dryer and dryer the further westwards.

 Wild flowers along the road side.

The Dry grassland to the far west of New South Wales.

A tough little plant withstanding the head of the baked red earth.
One of few plants in flower, the flowers tough and waxy to the touch, presumably to guard against water loss. Sorry I don't have the resources to find out the names of the plants at present, but a bit of googleing should throw up some info if you really need to know.

The smart and tidy Post Office building in the tiny town of Wilcannia half way along the Barrier Highway. This is the only smart building in the otherwise dilapidated and dying ex-mining town now left by the way side.

A few of the empty dilapidated buildings along the high street. 

A curious looking lizard asking for trouble basking in the middle of the road.

The Warrumbungles


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Some of the spectacular granite bluffs known as 'The Warrumbungles' formed by volcanoes 13 to 17 million years ago, of which 90% have eroded away leaving only the toughest remnants standing sentinel over the predominantly flat landscape.

(mid September) After to many months working away in the orchards I have finally saved what I need to continue my travels and broke away at long last. In fact I finished working in mid September and went on a whistle stop around trip around a small portion of Australia, still covering over 10,000km. I'm now in Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina where I finally have a little spare time to catch up on some posts while I wait for my Antarctica cruise to depart, the reason for spending ten months in an orchard. I'm shore it will be worth every bit of toil.

From Stanthorpe in South East Queensland I headed south west through out back rural New South Wales to the deserts of South Australia. I then turned north on the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, taking a few detours to look at some rocks. Unfortunately I hadn't the funds to make it all the way up to Darwin (net time) so turned east back into Queensland to the tropical coast and the Great Barrier Reef. Finally heading south down the east coast to catch a flight out of Sydney to South America.

In the center of the north eastern quarter of New South Wales is the Warrumbungle National Park, a group of precipitous rocky bluffs, remnants of past volcanic activity that rise dramatically up out of the flat savanna grassland that predominated the surrounding countryside. The park is reputed to be incredibly diverse in flora and fauna owing to its varying elevations and its location between the dry grassland inland to the west and the wetter forest stretching off to the east coast.

Looking down on one of the most distinguished features of the park 'The Bread Knife'.

Views across the peeks of the park and looking out across the western plains, flat to the horizon and where I was headed. The perfect spot for lunch.

 Some of the plants growing on the bright, exposed, rocky parts of the park.

A few more tender herbs in flower in the dappled light of the forest floor in the valleys.

Clematis sp. and Acacia sp. in the forest under-story.

Black snake soaking up the rays in a dry creek bed.
Beautiful patterns created by the many Lichens.

27 August, 2011

Main Range National Park

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Sunlight piercing the canopy illuminates the palm fronds in the dense rainforest and Birds-nest ferns perch high up on the trunks of the tallest trees.

The Cunning Gap it the pass that links Brisbane to the east with the agricultural regions to the west of the Great Dividing Range, a string of mountains and extinct volcanoes which runs the length of the eastern side of the Australian continent. Any streams flowing to the east quickly flow into the pacific but water flowing west takes a long journey inland and out to the Southern Ocean, although it may not make it that far during drought. The pass was discovered by Allan Cunningham (1791-1839) who incidentally was chosen by Joseph Banks to collect plants for Kew Gardens. He arrived in Australia in 1816 and under took many plant hunting expeditions in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, identifying many new plant species. The pass was opened up in the 1830’s, a vital link between communities though treacherous due to the steep unstable terrain which still poses problems today.

The Cunningham Gap still being repaired after sections of it fell of the mountain of were buried by landslides during the floods.

Looking up through a stand of palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana).

Looking up the trunk of a Strangler Fig tree which is one of the most prominent tall tree species and a shaft of light on a little shrub.

Higher up the pass where the forest is more light and open.

Looking up a tall Hoop Pine (Auricaria cunninghamii) draped with mosses and a young orchid among the mossy branches.

Unusual bulges on the trunk of a tree.

This picture was actually taken in the Greenstone Valley in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. My juvenile side felt that it would pair up well with the previous picture. Gota love nature!

Higher still mist from passing banks of clouds add to the atmosphere and the fronds of tree ferns replace those of the palms.

The tough waxy leaves of a tiny epiphytic orchid that ad fallen from the canopy.

The spent flower spike of a Spear Lilly (Doranthes excelsa) on the rocky outcrops that break above the tree line.

Looking up to the summit. The craggy rocks are the plug of a long extinct volcano which are peppered with Spear Lilies and Grass Trees.

Looking to the north to the sheer cliffs of a once vast volcanic creator.

Looking out to the east towards Brisbane and the coast and the flower of a Plectranthus species.