Tag Archive | wildflowers

Wildflowers and History #6

Gurulmundi State Forest

We saw many different trees on our drive through the forest – none more striking than the grass trees. At almost all of our stops we found them growing in clusters by the side of the road.

It wasn’t surprising to see grass trees flourishing in this environment, as they prefer dry conditions and poor quality soil. We were surprised though, and excited, to see one grass tree in flower.

Grass trees are very slow growing. They can live for centuries and take up to 20 years to produce their first flower spike. They do not flower every year and often need the stimulation of a bush fire to encourage growth and flowering. While there was no evidence of a recent fire around this grass tree, its flower spike had matured beautifully.

The tiny flowers of the grass tree grow up the spike in a spiral pattern and, laden with rich sweet nectar, they’re a tasty treat for native birds and insects.

Indigenous peoples also knew the value of the flowers, harvesting them to make a sweet refreshing drink. We weren’t tempted to copy them – we were happy to leave this amazing flower spike to the butterflies.

Wildflowers and History #5

Gurulmundi State Forest

After driving for 47 kilometres, we finally arrived at the turn off to Wildflower Road. We’d already found plenty of wildflowers and were hoping to see more.

At first the road passed through open eucalypt forest. In the days before this area was a state forest, timber mills processed cypress pine, ironbark and spotted gum for use on railways and bridges. With the timber cutters long gone the trees now grow undisturbed, surrounded by Mauve Kunzia and Firebush shrubs.

A few kilometres further on the landscape changed, with the forest giving way to a vast expanse of leptospermum bushes, commonly known as tea tree. Although most of the plants had finished flowering, a few bushes were still covered in clusters of waxy white blooms.

For several kilometres we drove beside the Dingo Fence. Built in the 1880s, the 5,614 km fence still protects livestock from wild dog attacks.

A gate marked the boundary of the state forest and the end of Wildflower Road. As always, we made sure to close the gate behind us. We wouldn’t see any more flowers on this day, but there were a few historical sites still to come.

Wildflowers and History #4

Gurulmundi State Forest

I have a namesake – a baby girl born many years ago whose parents liked me and my name. Until we did the Gurulmundi Wildflower Tour, I never knew I also have a floral namesake.

At several sites along the track we came across these information boards, identifying the most common wildflowers.

Even though the signs had suffered from harsh weather conditions the words were still legible.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this plant on the board.

We didn’t have to search long to find the correct tree.

Up close, the long golden flower spikes were beautiful.

I wonder how many people have a person and a plant named for them.

Do you have a namesake?

Wildflowers and History #3

Gurulmundi State Forest

At the 42 km mark of our day trip we came across rusted relics of the past on the side of the road.

The Conloi No. 1 bore and the tank used for storing crude oil pumped from the Surat/Bowen Basin were long ago abandoned, left to decay by the side of the road.

At first glance it seemed there were no wildflowers growing in this parched landscape. But a closer inspection revealed more beautiful blooms growing in the stony soil.

Some were tiny – no bigger than a thumbnail.

The clear blue sky made the perfect backdrop for these scarlet grevilleas.

And way overhead, tufted white blossoms in the highest branches of the gum trees glittered in the glaring midday sun.

Wildflowers and History #2

Gurulmundi State Forest

If there hadn’t been an information sign we would have passed by Gurulmundi without even realising it was there.

A section of disused track and a raised bank where the platform once stood are all that remain of the railway siding on the line between Miles and Wandoan. Nothing is left to show where the tennis courts and state school, which closed in 1965, were located.

The hall looked derelict, although the sign told us it’s still used for country dances.

It was fortunate that we spotted the sign and stopped to look. There may not have been much left of Gurulmundi but we did find more pretty wildflowers by the side of the road.

Wildflowers and History #1

Gurulmundi State Forest

The self drive trail through Gurulmundi State Forest was described as a wildflower tour but, according to the brochure, there were historic sites along the route as well. We added plans for a day trip through the forest to our Miles itinerary; after plentiful rainfall in spring the native flowering plants would surely be in bloom and a history lesson is always interesting.

We headed out of town on the bridge over Dogwood Creek and turned north onto the Leichhardt Highway. We passed the site of the old Dalwogan railway siding, now in the Miles Historical Village, and crossed, for the first of several times, the Dingo Barrier Fence.

The sign at the Gurulmundi turnoff pointed the way ahead.

After 30 kilometres we stopped at L Tree Creek, named after the trees marked by the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844. We couldn’t find any of Leichhardt’s trees but we did spot some bright red flowers along the creek bank – our first wildflower sighting!

Up the hill away from the creek we found more. The crimson blooms of hundreds of kalanchoe plants dotted the landscape, from the edge of the road far off into the bush.

A little further on crimson was replaced by gold. Spiky shrubs, their branches crowned with clusters of tiny yellow flowers, flourished in the stony soil on both sides of the road.

We hadn’t yet entered the state forest and already we’d found some beauties and our first historic site. With 13,000 hectares of forest still to explore we were confident there would be more.

Changing Seasons

Kevtoberfest #23 The Great Alpine Road

With the fun of Kevin’s birthday party over, it was time to say farewell and begin the long journey home. Instead of returning the way we’d come, we had planned to travel through the Alpine National Park to the ski resorts of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. But late winter snowfalls meant the roads were closed in places and only accessible in other areas with tyre chains.

The alternative was to follow the Great Alpine Road from Bairnsdale into the mountains to Omeo, then through the mountain passes to Mitta Mitta on the other side. We’d heard the road was steep and winding, and we were warned to take it slowly on the narrow curves.

The hills and pastures of the lower alpine region were still wearing their brown overcoats, parched and bare after a dry winter.

As the road climbed we began to see signs of the change in seasons, with wattle in full bloom gilding the steep hillsides. Alpine ashes, tall and spindly, had begun to shed their old bark, revealing pristine white trunks beneath.

Even though spring had definitely arrived, winter wasn’t quite gone either. As northerners, we rarely see snow and our first glimpse of a dusting on the distant mountains was exciting. Icy remnants of long ago snowfalls remained in the roadside culverts.

We paused several times to admire the distant peaks, their white blanketed slopes in stark contrast with the deep green of the surrounding eucalypt forest.

Our frequent stops to admire the views combined with the slow pace of travel on the winding mountain road meant our journey of just 236 kilometres took more than six hours.

Lucky we had plenty to look at on the way!



Kevtoberfest #16 Blue Mountains

In late September the Blue Mountains were in full bloom, with flowering natives and exotic blossoms competing for our attention at every stop.

At Jenolan Caves, spring flowers and magnolias filled every available space.

On the Federal Pass track to Scenic World, tiny native blossoms glowed in jewel-like colours.

In Leura, cherry trees laden with delicate blossoms attracted photographers and bees alike.

Waratahs grew wild beside the road to Anvil Rock

and at the Botanic Gardens alongside rhododendrons, proteas and camellias.

Clusters of golden flowers glowed beside blackened seed pods on banksias at Gordon Falls Reserve.

Springtime in the Blue Mountains is blooming beautiful!

Meeting the Locals

Exploring England #30

Our Airbnb home near the Lake District was a pretty stone cottage, one of several in a row surrounded by verdant farmland. A mill pond complete with ducks and their ducklings lay behind the cottages, and beyond the pond at the top of the hill was the Lancaster Canal. A public footpath began at the end of our street, and we decided to go exploring in the hope of meeting some of the locals.

The path took us along the edge of the field where, even in the late afternoon, the thick green grass was still damp with morning dew.

We climbed over a stile

and up the hill to the path beside the canal.

From the top of the hill we could see our cottages and the lush farmland of the Lancashire countryside.

Late summer wildflowers bloomed in profusion along the water’s edge. Some we recognised, while others were new to us.

We did meet some of the residents but they had little to say, merely raising their heads in curiosity as we passed by.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, the temperature began to drop. We retraced our steps until we were on our lane again and, with the day almost over, our cosy cottage was warm and welcoming.

Join Jo and her friends for Monday Walks.

The Essence of Summer

There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus and almost all are native to Australia. Commonly known as gum trees because of the sap that oozes from any breaches in the bark, they grow almost everywhere, from the inland deserts to the alpine areas of the southern states.

The flower of a eucalypt is not composed of petals. Instead, a large number of long feathery stamens are held together by a colourful operculum. As the stamens dry and fall away from the clusters of blossoms, seeds form in the opercula which dry and become hard – we call them gum nuts.

When the gum trees are flowering, we know summer has begun.



Visit Judes’ Garden Challenge to see more of the Essence of Summer