Monday, 30 June 2014

Flinders Ranges: Flora

It was a surprise to see so many plants flowering in the Flinders Ranges. Mostly it was the perennials not the annuals that were in bloom - the small shrubs. You don't see the flowers when you're driving the roads admiring the geology and beautiful landscapes. It's only when you walk that you see the colour of the flowers. The wildflowers must be very beautiful in spring, but there are so many Pattersons Curse plants that the hills will be beautifully purple with the weed.

Flinders Ranges: Fauna

Some of the fauna we saw in the Flinders Rangers. Of note were the hundreds of kangaroos of several species (Western Grey, Red and Eulo) feeding at all times of the day.

Our campsite on Willow Springs was next to dry creek bed lined with River Red Gums and Callitris grew further up the rocky hillsides. We were pleased to share the site with Red-capped Robins, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Grey-crowned Babblers and Australian Ravens. We were a hop and a skip from Stokes Lookout which is a favoured spot to find the elusive Short-tailed Grasswrens but the time of year and the atrocious weather defeated my attempts to find any in residence.

We also saw a huge feral cat creeping its way up a rocky hillside. One of many in the Flinders I imagine.

Flinders Ranges: Geology

Internet access at last. While we were exploring the Flinders Ranges we had no mobile phone access at all. We're at Leigh Creek, plugged in to power, washing and drying, catching up on emails, warming up. The last few days have been a bit torrid, with gale force bitterly cold winds and driving rain - but I think we were better off than most of south-eastern Australia. We stayed at Willow Creek Station and it was a good choice. They know how to set up campsite facilities and there is the bonus of natural beauty as well.

Despite the weather we managed to get out a bit to see the outstanding scenery and geology.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Hattah to Kapunda

We headed into the wind today as we headed west through the Riverland, tracked the path of the Murray until we crossed the bridge at Blanchetown and then left it to find its way south while we made our way to visit relatives at Kapunda. It's a delightful area that deserves more attention than we gave it today. Gales and skiffy showers discouraged us from venturing out of the car but I think we were lucky that we escaped the damaging winds that struck other parts of Victoria and South Australia.

Many of the mallee trees are in bud and some are flowering so it's going to be a wonderful spring I think. It was good to see some of the sandy ground covered in lichen and moss 'just like it orta be', but sad to see the damage that can be done by vehicles. Even one set of tyre tracks can destroy lichens that have taken years to grow on the surface.

Moss and lichens crust the sandy surface.

Damage done by vehicles at a wayside stop.
Mallee trees can be hundreds of years old, regrowing from lignotubers time and time again.

And even though it's June I managed to find several small shrubs in flower. Hopefully that's a sign that I'll find more as we move further north.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Mallee at last

Yesterday we were just about packed and ready to leave home when catastrophe #2 struck. A flexible metal hose leading to a bathroom tap burst and flooded three rooms before we could turn off the mains tap!!

So we spent the next two hours mopping up, replacing the offending hose and lifting carpet so it had a chance of drying out. And then we left. We have no idea at this stage whether the damage is terminal, whether the carpet and vinyl will go mouldy, whether the chipboard flooring will dry out or whether it is an insurance claim. Our family have been left to cope with it all while we just get on with our holiday. There's a lesson here for everyone - turn off the mains water when you leave the house for any length of time. Imagine what the house would have looked like if the hose had burst a couple of hours later!

Today we drove up through Swan Hill and then into mallee country near Hattah. We started to see saltbush and mallee trees on the roadsides, saltpans and lunettes, sandy plains, flocks of Galahs, Mallee Ringnecks feeding on the roadside and sandy tracks tempting us to get off the bitumen. We're starting to feel that we really are on holiday.

We didn't expect to see a plantation of willow trees. It's a project to grow willows to make cricket bats. This plantation was established in 1998 at the appropriately named Wood Wood - they've chosen to plant Salix alba var. caerulea. Seems like the wood from those trees would make a huge number of bats but I suppose they know what they're doing.

Willow plantation, Wood Wood.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

On the wallaby

The best laid plans ...

Plan A was to leave this morning for a two-month caravan holiday through central Australia. We're now on to Plan B which is to leave tomorrow morning.

Mr Boobook went to unlock the van to finish packing and the key wouldn't turn in the lock. The spare key wouldn't work either, and it's almost impossible (or very expensive because you have to break something) to break in to a caravan. It's taken a trip to Melbourne this morning to pick up another door lock and quite a few hours work to install it and we're finally able to get into the van!! Who would have thought? At least it didn't happen in the middle of nowhere.

So tomorrow we leave for 'the outback'. I'm planning to update this blog regularly so friends and family can follow our travels. That's Plan A. There's no Plan B.