Sunday, May 05, 2013
Ahhh. As much as I love hiking and camping I do love my creature comforts as well! Showers and beds are very nice. My body really appreciates them. That being said today I visited the Valley of the Giants. It is such a well thought out way to explore the trees. I've never walked up in a canopy before and was truly impressed!
The Tree Top Walk is a 600-metre walk that has a gentle gradient. It is suitable for children and all ages, including wheelchairs and strollers. Good thing too because I am quite tired and was not up for a really strenuous walk today.
A walk trail links the Tree Top Walk to the Ancient Empire boardwalk where you can get up close and personal to the 400-year-old giants of the forest. It is based on the theme of the lost era of Gondwana. The 600-metre boardwalk has been designed as an interpretive experience, to explore the science, fantasy, intrigue and the grandeur of the old trees.
In paleogeography Gondwana, originally Gondwanaland, is the name given to the more southerly of two supercontinents (the other being Laurasia) which were part of the Pangaea supercontinent that existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago. Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya (Million Years Ago), thus joining East Gondwana to West Gondwana. It separated from Laurasia 200-180 Mya (the mid-Mesozoic era) during the breakup of Pangaea, drifting farther south after the split.
Gondwana included most of the landmasses in today's Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar and the Australian continent, as well as the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, which have now moved entirely into the Northern Hemisphere.
The continent of Gondwana was named by Austrian scientist Eduard Suess, after the Gondwana region of central northern India, from which the Gondwana sedimentary sequences (Permian-Triassic) are also described.
The adjective Gondwanan is in common use in biogeography when referring to patterns of distribution of living organisms, typically when the organisms are restricted to two or more of the now-discontinuous regions that were once part of Gondwana, including the Antarctic flora. For example, the Proteaceae family of plants known only from southern South America, South Africa and Australia, is considered to have a "Gondwanan distribution". This pattern is often considered to indicate an archaic, or relict, lineage.
The path on the Ancient Empire Boardwalk leads visitors to one of the most popular of the gnarled veterans, known as Grandma Tingle, or the Gatekeeper. The second section of the Ancient Empire walk is a mixture of boardwalk and stabilised earth paths which winds in and out, up, over and through seven more giants. Ancient Empire Entry is free. Tree Top Walk entry prices:- Adult $12.50.
After doing the Tree Top Walk and the Ancient Empire Boardwalk I was tuckered out. I walked 1,568 steps today and volunteered at the Boardwalk for about three hours. Way more than I planned to do today but it was satisfying. After all of that I just went back to my room and rested the rest of the day so I could do more tomorrow.
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Having slept at Woolbales Campsite we awake and get everything packed after a quick breakfast knowing we have a long ways to go until we get to Walpol and rooms with showers and beds! Not to mention other people fixing our food and delivering it to us! lol
We get treking and finish making our way finally to Mandalay beach. It takes its name from the Norwegian barque Mandalay that was wrecked in 1911 off the coast of Western Australia. The ship left Delegoa Bay in Africa, for Albany and as she sailed across the Southern Ocean off the coast of Western Australia a strong southernly gale swept the ship to shore.
Captain Emile Tonnessen and his crew managed to keep the vessel clear of Chatham Island, only to be confronted by Long Point. Realising it would be impossible to round the point in the gail, the captain decided to beach the vessel. All lives were saved and despite rough seas, the crew managed to get most of the provisions ashore.
Members of the Thompson family found the crew and took them to their home at Tinglewood Lodge. At times part of the wreck emerge from the sand even now.
We keep walking and come upon Long Point. It has amazing granite cliffs and pristine white sand. The contrast between the dark granite and white sand makes it a very picturesque place.
By definition, granite is an igneous rock with at least 20% quartz by volume. Granite differs from granodiorite in that at least 35% of the feldspar in granite is alkali feldspar as opposed to plagioclase; it is the alkali feldspar that gives many granites a distinctive pink color. Outcrops of granite tend to form tors and rounded massifs. Granites sometimes occur in circular depressions surrounded by a range of hills, formed by the metamorphic aureole or hornfels. Granite is usually found in the continental plates of the Earth's crust. Since the granite here at Long Point is dark we know that the feldspar in it is not the alkali feldspar. So it must be the plagioclase variety which is dark. Plagioclase is an important series of tectosilicate minerals within the feldspar family. Rather than referring to a particular mineral with a specific chemical composition, plagioclase is a solid solution series, more properly known as the plagioclase feldspar series (from the Greek "oblique fracture", in reference to its two cleavage angles). The sodium and calcium atoms can substitute for each other in the mineral's crystal lattice structure. Plagioclase in hand samples is often identified by its polysynthetic twinning or 'record-groove' effect. Plagioclase is a major constituent mineral in the Earth's crust. Plagioclase is also a major constituent of rock in the highlands of the Earth's moon.
We keep hiking and come across Point Nuyt and the Nuyt Wilderness Walk. The following trails form part of the Nuyts Wilderness: Mount Care Summit Walk, Deep River Loop, Shedley Drive Loop Walk, Mount Clare picnic area to Thompson Cove, Mount Clare picnic area to Aldridge Cove, Mount Clare picnic area to Mount Hopkins. Each part of the trails or loops are harder than the last one. By the last leg one should be in good shape to take it on. I'm glad that we're just passing through the area! You know when "A compass, GPS and map are essential" is recommended it's pretty rough area.
At Mount Clare the Giant Red Tingle Trees lets us know that we are about to descend into Walpole. The Red Tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii) of south west Western Australia is one of the tallest trees in the state and can measure up to 24 metres round at the base and grow to a height of 75 metres and live for up to 400 years. Yes, this one is yet another one of the many Eucalypts. The trees often have a shallow root system and grow a buttressed base. Forest fires often act to hollow out the base of the trees creating a large cavity. The area where the trees are found have been shrinking due to the climate changing over millions of years. They are now found primarily in Walpole-Nornalup National Park and in a few isolated sites outside the park in the Walpole area. The red tingle tree is often compared to the other two species - the Yellow tingle (Eucalyptus guilfoylei) and Rate's tingle (Eucalyptus brevistylis) which are smaller.
Walpole lies very close to the northern point of the 100-hectare Walpole Inlet, from which it takes its name. The inlet in turn is named for the Walpole River, discovered in 1831 by Captain Thomas Bannister, and named by Governor Stirling for Captain W. Walpole. Land in the Walpole area was reserved for a national park in 1910, and the area subsequently became a popular holiday destination. The railway reached Nornalup in 1929, and the Walpole town site was gazetted in 1933. Timber milling soon followed. Now the region is famous for its Giant Red and Yellow Tingle trees, many over 400 years old.
Walpole was always the preferred name, but it was believed this was already in use in Tasmania. So the newly-gazetted township was officially named Nornalup, but this caused confusion with the railway terminus. Eventually the Post Office advised that there was no Walpole in Tasmania, and in 1934 the town reverted to its original name of Walpole.
As we hike in we only have eyes for our hotel rooms and a shower! This last part was very hard hiking. I was able to get in 1,926 steps today and this was supposed to be a day I take it easy. I also did some concentrated walking for about 15 minutes.
So time to shower and rest!
Friday, May 03, 2013
Waking up while I'm camping has got to be one of my favorite things to do. The first thing I notice is the air getting warmer. Then slowly but surely the birds start their morning vocalizations. One by one louder and louder they get. As the birds join in the talking then the buzz of the insects start to happen. No alarm clock annoyingly buzzing or clanging. Just a nice gentle awareness of the nature around you. It just fills my soul with calmness and awareness of this wonderful world around me. No hustle or bustle, no pushing to meet deadlines just being one with nature.
So we all start to wake up in the Lake Maringup campground and get our breakfast going. We all start to clean and pack for the day. Today we are going to hike in the D'Entrecasteaux National Park. This is where everything changes! From Mountain ranges to sandy beaches and everything in-between!
We finish packing up and start to hike out and hit the trail. On the trail we start to see very interesting trees that have flowers that look like they could clean a bottle out. They are very colorful and interesting to see. There are a lot of birds and insects around the flowers so I assume there is some sort of nectar in it.
Bottlebrushes are members of the genus Callistemon and belong to the family Myrtaceae. They are closely related to paperbark melaleucas, which also have 'bottlebrush' shaped flower spikes. It is difficult to tell to which genus some species belong. Botanists are currently closely studying these plants to determine how they are best classified. There are 40 species currently called Callistemon.
Most Bottlebrushes occur in the east and south-east of Australia. Two species occur in the south-west of Western Australia and four species in New Caledonia. Bottlebrushes can be found growing from Australia's tropical north to the temperate south. They often grow in damp or wet conditions such as along creek beds or in areas which are prone to floods.
The flower spikes form in spring and summer and are made up of a number of individual flowers. The pollen of the flower forms on the tip of a long colored stalk called a filament. It is these filaments which give the flower spike its color and distinctive 'bottlebrush' shape. The filaments are usually yellow or red, sometimes the pollen also adds a bright yellow flush to the flower spikes.
Each flower produces a small woody fruit containing hundreds of tiny seeds. These fruits form in clusters along the stem, and are usually held on the plant for many years. In some species though the fruits open after about a year. Fire also stimulates the opening of the fruits in some bottlebrushes.
The new leaves of many bottlebrushes are very ornamental. The leaves are often colored and, in some species, they are covered with fine, soft hairs. The flowers can be spectacular and are irresistible to nectar-feeding birds and insects. Most species are frost tolerant.
They have been grown in Europe since a specimen of C. citrinus was introduced to Kew Gardens in London by Joseph Banks in 1789. In Australia, Callistemon species are sometimes used as food plants by the larvae of hepialid moths. These moths are commonly called Swift Moths or Ghost Moths. The Witchetty grub (which are sometimes hepialid larvae) is a popular food sources especially among aboriginal Australians.
As we hike in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park we notice it has high dunes then we com upon some spectacular coastal cliffs! The different areas are so interesting. One of the park’s outstanding natural features include a series of hexagonal-shaped basalt columns to the west of Black Point.
Basalt is a common extrusive igneous (volcanic) rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava exposed at or very near the surface of a volcano. Basalt is an aphanitic igneous rock with less than 20% quartz and less than 10% feldspathoid by volume, and where at least 65% of the feldspar is in the form of plagioclase.
Aphanite, or aphanitic a name given to certain igneous rocks which are so fine-grained that their component mineral crystals are not detectable by the unaided eye (as opposed to phaneritic igneous rocks, where the minerals are visible to the unaided eye). This geological texture results from rapid cooling in volcanic or hypabyssal (shallow subsurface) environments. As a rule, the texture of these rocks is not quite the same as that of volcanic glass (e.g. obsidian), with volcanic glass being even finer grained (or more accurately, non-crystalline) than aphanitic rocks, and having a glass-like appearance.
Aphanites are commonly porphyritic, having large crystals embedded in the fine groundmass or matrix. The large inclusions are called phenocrysts. They consist essentially of very fine-grained minerals, such as plagioclase feldspar, with hornblende or augite, and may contain also biotite, quartz, and orthoclase.
This is a picture of Feldspar. I thought it looked cool.
Basalt is usually grey to black in color, but rapidly weathers to brown or rust-red due to oxidation of its mafic (iron-rich) minerals into rust. It almost always has a fine-grained mineral texture due to the molten rock cooling too quickly for large mineral crystals to grow, although it can sometimes be porphyritic, containing the larger crystals formed prior to the extrusion that brought the lava to the surface, embedded in a finer-grained matrix.
Porphyritic is an adjective used in geology, specifically for igneous rocks, for a rock that has a distinct difference in the size of the crystals, with at least one group of crystals obviously larger than another group.
Basalt with a vesicular or frothy texture is called scoria, and forms when dissolved gases are forced out of a solution and form vesicles as the lava decompresses as it reaches the surface.
The major streams and rivers, in the park, include the Warren, Donnelly and Shannon rivers. Coastal heathlands, grasslands, low woodlands and scattered pockets of karri forest are all some of the areas we come across. Quokkas, western quolls, possums, wallabies and bandicoots are just some of the native animals we see, and we saw some Southern Right Whales when we were along the coast.
The western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) is also known as the chuditch (esp. Western Australia, from Noongar djooditj), atyelpe or chilpa (from Arrernte), kuninka (from Western Desert language) and western native cat. It is a medium-sized predator and has a white-spotted brown coat and a long tail like its eastern and northern relatives. It differs from the closely related eastern quoll in possessing a first toe on the hindfoot and a darker tail. It is classed as a near-threatened Australian dasyuromorph, whose distribution is now confined to south-western Western Australia. They are active mostly around dawn and dusk when their coat blends into the surroundings the best.
Bandicoots are a group of about 20 species of small to medium-sized, terrestrial marsupial omnivores. They are indigenous but not endemic to Australia. The word itself is often used as a common name for any of them, and is an anglicised form of the Telugu word pandi-kukka, loosely translated as pig-dog. The embryos of bandicoots, unlike other marsupials, form a placenta-like organ that connects it to the uterine wall. The function of this organ is probably to transfer nutrients from the mother. However the structure is small.
I hope as we set up our camp at Woolbales Campsite we get to see some of these cute little animals. I'm sure they are shy and quite hard to see. Maybe if we are all quiet and still the animals will come say hi. Dinner is a hearty Mac 'n Cheese for me tonight. I've done a lot of work today.
I ended up having 2,489 steps and helped clear parts of the trail for 30 minutes.
I'm a pooped pup and soon my eyes just can't stay open so I go to sleep planning on getting up early tomorrow morning.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Northcliff was a wonderful town to stay in. The people there are so friendly and willing to help a stranger. Especially one from America. They cater to the Trekkers and are willing to do what ever is needed. I vote that it is 'the Friendliest town in Australia'!
I had a great sleep and was ready to hit the trail this morning. I'm glad because we are finally going to get into some real wilderness where one is truly cut off from 'civilization'. Today we are going to follow the Gardner River to its source Lake Maringup. But first we will take a great trek through Shannon National Park.
Shannon National Park was declared a national park in 1988. The park covers the entire Shannon River basin. The area contains biologically rich wetlands and heathlands as well as old growth and regrowth karri forests. The area remained largely untouched by logging until the 1940s due to the inaccessibility of the area. A timber mill and the town of Shannon were established in the 1940s as a result of a timber shortage during World War II. The town had over 90 homes, a hall, post office, church and nursing station. A dam was built in 1949 to guarantee water supply during the summer months. The mill eventually closed in 1968 and the houses were sold and moved leaving the townsite empty and a campground now stands were the town once did. The area was gazetted as a national park in 1988. A 48 km (30 mi) unsealed road called the Great Forest Trees Drive was completed in 1996 and provides tourists with the opportunity to view many of the features of the park.
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation that is adapted to its unique soil conditions. Wetlands consist primarily of hydric soil, which supports aquatic plants. Hydric soil is a soil that formed under conditions of saturation, flooding, or ponding long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater, or brackish. More about brackish water in a minute. Main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs and fens.
A fen is one of the four main types of wetland and one of two types of mire (the other being a bog). It is usually fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater. Fens are characterised by their water chemistry, which is neutral or alkaline, with relatively high dissolved mineral levels but few other plant nutrients. They are usually dominated by grasses and sedges, and typically have brown mosses. Fens frequently have a high diversity of other plant species including carnivorous plants. They may also occur along large lakes and rivers where seasonal changes in water level maintain wet soils with few woody plants. The distribution of individual species of fen plants is often closely connected to water regimes and nutrient concentrations. Fens have a characteristic set of plant species, which sometimes provide the best indicators of environmental conditions. Fens are distinguished from bogs, which are acidic, low in minerals, and usually dominated by sedges and shrubs, along with abundant mosses.
Some types of wetlands include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.
A carr, the name of which is derived from the Old Norse kjarr, meaning a swamp, is a type of waterlogged, wooded terrain that, typically, represents a succession stage between the original reedy swamp and the eventual formation of forest. The carr is one stage in the progression of vegetation beginning from a terrain that is submerged by fresh water along a river or lake margin. It begins with reed-swamp. As the reeds decay, the soil surface eventually rises above the water, creating fens that allow vegetation like sedge to grow. As this progression continues, riparian trees and bushes appear and a carr landscape is created. In effect a wooded fen in a waterlogged terrain. At this stage the pH is not too acidic and the soil is not too deficient in mineral elements.
Pocosin is a term for a type of palustrine wetland with deep, acidic, sandy, peat soils. A palustrine system includes any inland wetland which lacks flowing water, contains ocean-derived salts in concentrations of less than 0.05%, and is non-tidal. Groundwater saturates the soil except during brief seasonal dry spells and during prolonged droughts. Pocosin soils are nutrient deficient (oligotrophic), especially in phosphorus. There are often perched water tables underlying pocosins. Shrub vegetation is common. Pocosins are sometimes called shrub bogs. Additionally, pocosins are home to rare and threatened plant species including Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) and sweet pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra).
Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica. They can also be constructed artificially as a water management tool, which may play a role in the developing field of water-sensitive urban design.
As we walk the different types of wetlands play out and we are able to see for ourselves the differences and play a game trying to name the one we are walking through currently. As the day goes by we notice the change as we come upon the rugged D'Entrecasteaux National Park.
The park is named after the French Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux who was the first European to sight the area and name Point D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. The park contains a great variety of scenery including beaches, sand-dunes, coastal cliffs, coastal heath and pockets of Karri forest. Rivers such as the Warren, the Donnelly and the Shannon flow through the park and discharge into the waters off-shore. Important large scale wetlands, known as the Blackwater, and lakes such as Lake Jasper and Lake Yeagarup are found within the park boundaries. Broke Inlet is contained within the park boundaries at its eastern end. It is the only inlet in the South West that has not been significantly altered within the catchment area. The gneiss basement rocks project through the shallow waters to form small islands in the Inlet. Gneiss (pron.: /ˈnaɪs/) is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks. It is foliated (composed of layers of sheet-like planar structures). The foliations are characterized by alternating darker and lighter colored bands, called "gneissic banding". Sandy Island in Windy Harbour is part of the park; it is an important nesting site for seabirds, with up to 300,000 breeding pairs of Flesh-footed Shearwaters, a high proportion of the global population.
We hike along loving all the beautiful scenery snapping pictures as we go along. We find the Gardner River and follow it all the way up to the Lake Maringup campsite happy to have this day over but amazed at all the different ecosystems we saw. After dinner we sit and compare pictures that we took along the trail.
I ended up with 2,394 steps today and 120 minutes of clearing the trail. I plop into my sleeping bag happy to finally stop moving.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
::Yawn:: This morning was way to early for me. I stayed up late watching the stars in the sky. It was great after everyone else went to bed and the lights were all off. Just amazing to see them all and I was able to see several shooting stars. I have to admit I wished for a nice easy day that was filled with learning.
We break camp and start on the trail. We find Moons Crossing which is where the early settlers used to cross their cattle herds. We keep hiking and finally come upon Blackberry Pool Walk. There are two trails that can be walked. The areas understory of plants is well established after the fire came through here. Plants like Casuarina, Acacia and Banksia establish themselves rapidly early in the regrowth cycle from seed on the forest floor. The slower growing eucalyptus, like Karri and Jarrah, become tall and slender as they compete for sunlight.
Casuarina is a genus of 17 species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australasia, the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It was once treated as the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three genera.
They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m tall. The foliage consists of slender, much-branched green to grey-green twigs bearing minute scale-leaves in whorls of 5–20. The flowers are produced in small catkin-like inflorescences; the flowers are simple spikes. Most species are dioecious, but a few are monoecious.
A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollinated (anemophilous) but sometimes insect pollinated. They contain many, usually unisexual flowers, arranged closely along a central stem which is often drooping. They are found in many plant families. As we learned previously an inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches.
Dioecy (Greek: "two households"; adjective form: dioecious) is characterised by a species having distinct male and female organisms. Monoecious means having the stamens and the pistils in separate flowers on the same plant.
The fruit is a woody, oval structure superficially resembling a conifer cone made up of numerous carpels each containing a single seed with a small wing. The generic name is derived from the Malay word for the cassowary, kasuari, alluding to the similarities between the bird's feathers and the plant's foliage. Casuarina species are a food source of the larvae of hepialid moths; members of the genus Aenetus. They burrow horizontally into the trunk then vertically down. The Noctuid or Owlet Moths, that have the Turnip Moth in it, is also recorded feeding on Casuarina.
The Acacia, also known as a thorntree, whistling thorn or wattle, is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not. They are pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannins and condensed tannins that historically in many species found use as pharmaceuticals and preservatives. In 2005 the genus was divided into five separate genera under the tribe "Acacieae." The genus Acacia was retained for the majority of the Australian species and a few in tropical Asia, Madagascar and Pacific Islands.
The Banksia are a heavy producers of nectar, they form a vital part of the food chain in the Australian bush. They are an important food source for all sorts of nectar eating animals, including birds, bats, rats, possums and stingless bees. Furthermore, they are of economic importance to Australia's nursery and cut flower industries. However these plants are threatened by a number of processes including land clearing, frequent burning and disease, and a number of species are rare and endangered.
Large older trees and smaller trees not originally logged have flourished in the Blackberry Pool forest area. On the trails you will notice the large amount of leaf litter and debris shed by the tall trees, particularly the karri. This organic material decays on the forest floor, the breakdown often aided by fungi which are unique to the area. The nutrient rich soils produced are called karri loams and have been utilized for farming throughout the district.
As we keep walking towards Northcliff the surroundings change. The forest has areas of deep sand and low scrublands creeping into it. Then there are some sandy Tea-tree flats and farmland starting to creep in as well. The Nyoongar Aboriginal people used to manage large areas along here for grazing for thousands of years. They also used to use a mosaic of cool fire to manage and assist the plants to regenerate and maintain plant diversity. Later the cattlemen continued this practice as well.
Northcliff was originally made as a First World War Settlement Scheme. It has turned into a wonderful, close-knit community which caters to the Trek walkers. They will drive you where ever you want to go. They are always quick with a smile and willingness to help whenever they can. The good old fashioned country hospitality is so warm and genuine one cannot help but feel a part of their community while you are there.
Today I ended up with 1,847 steps and 90 minutes is gardening. I keep finding people who need help in their gardens. I love it. They all share seeds with me and help me learn about the pests to watch out for. It'll be fun to get home and plant!
Once I get to my room I shower to get the layers of trail off and decide to take a nap.
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