Wednesday, May 15, 2013
We wake up and have a lovely breakfast and all pile into our campers to start our little caravan up again. I'm really liking this driving with walking in-between destinations. We still get enough walking in but are able to go farther.
After being on the road for a bit we turn off the main highway and end up in Northampton. It is an attractive historical town, with an outstanding National Trust building. The town lies on the North West Coastal Highway. Formerly named Gwalla after the location's copper mine, it was established by the Cornish ex-convict Joseph Horrocks. It is also the closest service town to the micronation, the Principality of Hutt River.
The town is known for its many wildflowers, and cave paintings at the Bowes River turnoff. The cave paintings show that the region has been inhabited by Indigenous Australians. Copper and lead ore were found in the 1840s, and by 1877, 4,000 tons of copper and lead were being produced each year.
Northampton was classified as a Historical Town by the National Trust of Australia in 1993 and is steeped in history.
When visiting Northampton you have a chance to visit a rich past. Before European settlers arrived here there were Aborigines in the area. You can see some aboriginal paintings in the sheltered overhangs at Bowes River Road, turn off a kilometer before Horrocks Beach.
More recently the townsite of Northampton was founded. In 1848 Welsh and Cornish miners began mining lead and by 1855 copper mining had also commenced.
The Lynton Convict Hiring Station was established in 1853 to supply labor, and Port Gregory served as the port for exporting the mined minerals.
In 1879 the first public railway of Western Australia was opened between Northampton and Geraldton. The Northampton railway station has been restored and you can visit it at the Mary Street Railway Precinct. Here you can find a display of railway memorabilia and rolling stock items. On the main street you can also see one of the old carriages.
The Northampton Visitor Centre, a stone building which was formerly the Old Police Station, quarters and courthouse, was built in 1885.
You can also visit the site of Northampton's first bank (1908), Chiverton House (c.1885). Or step into the past in the Northampton Family Store (1910) where you really can find everything. The Northampton Family Store will give you a feel of what shopping was like in years gone by with old fashioned service and original fittings.
Something unique to the Northampton area is The Independent Principality Of Hutt River. In 1970 the owners of this 18,500 acre property seceded from the rest of Australia to become a new Principality. They now have their own money and stamps so don't miss out on this unique experience, drop into the Principality of Hutt River.
We end up though at Hutt Lagoon. Hutt Lagoon is a salt lake located near the coast just north of the mouth of the Hutt River. The lake is about 14 kilometres in length along its long axis which is oriented in a northwest-southest direction, parallel with the coast. It is around 2 kilometres wide. The Hutt Lagoon comprises most of the Hutt Lagoon System, a DIWA-listed wetland system that also takes in a number of adjacent small lakes, such as Utcha Swamp.
The lagoon, or marginal-marine salina (salt lake), is an elongate depression about 70 square kilometers in area, with most of it lying a few meters below sealevel. It is separated from the Indian Ocean by a beach barrier ridge and barrier dune system. Similar to Lake MacLeod, 40 km to the north of Carnarvon, Hutt Lagoon is fed by marine waters through the barrier ridge and by meteoric waters through springs.
Due to the salina’s sub-sealevel position, seepage of seawater into the salina is continuous year round. During the winter wet season, the amount of water coming into the salina is substantially increased by the influx of meteoric groundwater. Hutt Lagoon has a Mediterranean climate; high evaporation rates (2150–2400 mm) are characteristic of the summer. There is moderate rainfall in the winter. These factors combine to form a setting within which salt is deposited seasonally and the rates and style of precipitation follow a balance between influx of water and removal by evaporation. During the summer about 95% of the salina surface is a dry salt flat.
Hutt Lagoon is a pink lake, a salt lake with a red or pink hue due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina, a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. The lagoon contains the world's largest microalgae production plant, a 250 ha series of artificial ponds used to farm Dunaliella salina.
Hutt Lagoon provides a commercial supply of Artemia parthenogenetica, brine shrimp. Artemia is a specialty feed used by prawn and fish farmers and the aquarium fish trade.
Aren't they cute?
I'm glad that we passed the processing plant! The 'aroma' I'm sure would have been quite huge! I have fish tanks and smelled the foods. They can be quite aromatic if you know what I mean.
Moving on we ended up in the Principality of Hutt River. There was no one there to greet us. They have their own money, stamps, and currency. They do accept all forms of payment but you cannot use your credit card. It is a cash only place. Also there is a $2.00 fee for an entry/exit Visa. But there is no tax on it. Of course that is if there is someone to give it to you.
This was the only thing there and it stuck it's tongue out at us!
Port Gregory is a small town and fishing port in the Mid West region of Western Australia.
Port Gregory, located close to the mouth of the Hutt River, was established in 1849 and named after brothers Augustus and Frank Gregory, two of Western Australia's most active explorers.
Port Gregory lies near the mouth of the Hutt River on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. This picturesque fishing village is encircled by five kilometers of exposed coral reef. Originally developed to serve the Geraldine Leadmine, the town is now a holiday hotspot for fishing, diving and offers a range of accommodation options.
Experience great fishing, swimming and windsurfing in the clean and protected natural harbor.
Visit the ruins of the historic Lynton Hiring Station, which once housed the convicts who worked on the Geraldine Mine and local pastoral stations.
We walk about stretching our legs so we don't get cramps in them. We spot many flowers and other natural life. After a bit we load back up and wander up the coast and we spot the Kalbarri National Park.
Kalbarri National Park abounds with opportunities and is one of the most exciting and spectacular in Western Australia. Marvel at nature's ability to carve the landscape. Explore the depths and heights of the river gorges and sea cliffs and admire the floral beauty of the vast, rolling sand plains.
The major geographical features of the park include the Murchison River gorge which runs for nearly 80 kilometres on the lower reaches of the Murchison River. Spectacular coastal cliffs are located on the coast near the mouth of the Murchison River and the town of Kalbarri.
Twenty-one plant species are found only in the coastal cliff tops and gorge country predominantly in the National Park. One of the best known local plants is the Kalbarri catspaw, a small yellow or red plant that is usually seen on recently burnt country from August to September. Several orchids can only be seen in and near the park, including the Kalbarri spider orchid and the Murchison hammer orchid.
Kalbarri Spider Orchid
Drakaea is an endangered genus of orchid that is native to Australia. Orchids in this genus are commonly called "Hammer Orchids". The common name refers to the shape of the orchid, and the way it moves, resembling a hammer. The genus was named after Miss Drake, a botanical artist who drew orchids and other plants to assist taxonomists in England in the 19th century. Members of the Drakaea genus are characterized by an insectoid labellum that is attached to a narrow, hinged stem, which holds it aloft. The stem can only hinge backwards, where the broadly winged column carries the pollen and stigma.
Hammer orchids have specified their method of pollination by only being pollinated by the Thynnid wasp. The female wasps being flightless wait on top of stems for the males, to fly in and carry them off. Then they will mate in mid-flight. Hammer orchids, being deceitful, mimic the female wasps; their labellum being similar in color and in structure to the female wasp's abdomen. The orchids also produce pheromones very similar to those that the female wasp produces.The female wasp produces the pheromones to attract the male. This is one of the more notable examples of mimicy in plants. When the male becomes attracted by the pheromones released by the orchid and its shape, it tries to fly away with the labellum, which makes the stem holding it move backwards. Which in turn brings the male wasp's thorax in contact with the sticky pollen packet. The male wasp will become tired of trying and fly off. In order for the Hammer orchid to be successfully pollinated, the male wasp must be fooled by another individual orchid, where it goes through the same procedure. But this time the pollen is deposited in the stigma, and so that plant has been pollinated. This form of symbiosis is not mutualistic, the wasp getting nothing in return for having pollinated the hammer orchid. This method does not always work for the plant's pollination because the male wasp does not always fall for it, especially during mating season when there are more active female wasps.
Murchison Hammer Orchid
The small-petalled Beyeria or short-petalled Beyeria, once thought to be extinct, was re-discovered in the park in 1994. The population in the park is one of only three known populations.
Beyeria is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the family Euphorbiaceae known as turpentine bushes. The genus is endemic to Australia.
Walking along the cliffs gave us new energy and we were snapping pictures all the time. I know I almost backed off the cliff trying to get the perfect picture.
We all loaded back up and made our way to Rainbow Jungle.
When we first set out to create Rainbow Jungle in 1984, we had only one ambition....To Be The Best. Rainbow Jungle is now a world leader in the breeding of endangered species and is regarded as Australias most beautiful parrot habitat.
A walk on the wild side, where you will find the largest parrot free flight aviary in the country, with the largest flock of Purple Crowned Lorikeets in the world and many other magnificently coloured Australian parrots.
You will wander through the center along paved brick pathways, through landscaped tropical gardens, past waterfalls, fountains, stained glass windows, gargoyles and lily ponds. You will enjoy close encounters with the magnificent Australian Black Cockatoos - the red, the yellow and the local white tails. Around every corner there are parrots in every color of the rainbow, including the beautiful Eclectus parrot and the fantastic, exotic Sun Conures.
After such a wonderful time in the Jungle we continue north to the town of Kalbarri. The local Aboriginal people inhabited the area for thousands of years and have a dreaming story about the Rainbow Serpent forming the Murchison River as she came from inland to the coast. The first European people to visit the area were the crew of the trading ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, who put two mutinous crew members ashore near Bluff Point just south of the town. The cliffs near the river mouth were named after another trading ship, the Zuytdorp, that was wrecked there in 1712. The area became a popular fishing and tourist spot in the 1940s and by 1948 the state government declared a townsite. Lots were soon surveyed and the town was gazetted in 1951. Kalbarri was named after an Aboriginal man from the Murchison tribe and is also the name of an edible seed.
The town is geared towards tourism and fishing, with attractions including the daily pelican feeding, the Kalbarri National Park, Murchison River Gorge and the Murchison River. There are two charter boats to go on to view the Murchison River.
The Kalbarri National Park is home to a phenomenon of geography and geology known as the Z Bend, a walking track, and "Nature's Window", a rock formation overlooking hundreds of kilometers of Murchison River. Red Bluff and other coastal cliffs and formations are located south of the town.
Murchison River Gorge is a riverine gorge in Mid West Western Australia. Carved by the meandering lower reaches of the Murchison River, it is more than 80 kilometers long, and up to 129 meters deep. It begins about 13½ kilometers north-northwest of Ajana, and extends to the mouth of the river at Kalbarri.
Widely considered a site of outstanding natural beauty, it is a major tourist attraction. Specific points of interest for tourists include the Z Bend lookout and The Loop walking trail.
It is also of immense interest to geologists, as it contains outstanding exposures of Tumblagooda sandstone, an Ordovician redbed deposit that contains fossils of eurypterids, representing some of the earlier fossil evidence of land animals. Fossilised eurypterid tracks are fairly common in the vicinity of the gorge, as are the tracks of outher arthropods, possibly trilobites.
The Tumblagooda sandstone is a geological formation deposited during the Silurian or Ordovician periods, around four to five hundred million years ago that is now exposed.
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six of the Paleozoic Era, and covers the time about 1.5 million years ago.
Eurypterids (sea scorpions) are an extinct group of arthropods related to arachnids which include the largest known arthropods that ever lived. They are members of the extinct order Eurypterida (Chelicerata); which is the most diverse Paleozoic chelicerate order in terms of species. The name Eurypterida comes from the Greek word eury- meaning "broad" or "wide" and the Greek word pteron meaning "wing", for the pair of wide swimming appendages on the first fossil eurypterids discovered. Eurypterids predate the earliest fishes. The largest, such as Jaekelopterus, reached 2.5 meters or more in length, but most species were less than 20 centimeters. They were formidable predators that thrived in warm shallow water, in both seas and lakes, in the Ordovician to Permian from 460 to 248 million years ago. Although informally called "sea scorpions", only the earliest ones were marine (later ones lived in brackish or freshwater), and they were not true scorpions. According to theory, the move from the sea to fresh water probably occurred by the Pennsylvanian subperiod. Eurypterids are believed to have undergone ecdysis, making their significance in ecosystems difficult to assess, because it can be difficult to tell a fossil moult from a true fossil carcass. They went extinct during the Permian–Triassic extinction event 252.2 million years ago, and their fossils have a near global distribution.
An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton (external skeleton), a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda (from Greek ἄρθρον árthron, "joint", and ποδός podós "leg", which together mean "jointed leg"), and include the insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. Arthropods are characterized by their jointed limbs and cuticles, which are mainly made of α-chitin; the cuticles of crustaceans are also biomineralized with calcium carbonate. The rigid cuticle inhibits growth, so arthropods replace it periodically by moulting. They range in size from microscopic plankton up to forms a few meters long.
Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites form one of the earliest known groups of arthropods. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period (521 million years ago), and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before beginning a drawn-out decline to extinction when, during the Devonian, almost all trilobite orders, with the sole exception of Proetida, died out. Trilobites finally disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago. The trilobites were among the most successful of all early animals, roaming the oceans for over 270 million years.
Monkey Mia is a popular tourist destination located about 800 km north of Perth, Western Australia. The reserve is 25 km northeast of the town of Denham in the Shark Bay Marine Park and World Heritage Site.
The main attraction is the daily feeding of the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming close to shore for more than forty years. Rangers from the Department of Environment and Conservation carefully supervise the process.
Mia is the Aboriginal term for home or shelter, while the Monkey part of the name is allegedly derived from a pearling boat called Monkey that anchored at the now Monkey Mia in the late 19th century, during the days when pearling was an industry in the region.
Exmouth is a town on the tip of the North West Cape in Western Australia. The town is located 1,270 kilometers north of the state capital Perth and 3,366 kilometers southwest of Darwin. The location was first used as a military base in World War II.
After a long drive we are very happy to stop traveling and get a chance to really stretch our legs. We check in and happily go for a cranny poke in the wonderful shops that are near our hotel. I return to have dinner and a lay down after all the traveling we did today. Time to have a good sleep so I can get up early to get on the road again.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
We wake up early and all pile into our caravans. Mixing it up as we go. All the luggage was found in the end and we all get a move on. Our fist stop is the lovely town of New Norcia. It is a beautiful little town that is based on a Monastery.
The monastery is the heart and soul of New Norcia. From the very first years of the monastery in the 1840s, the rhythmic life of monasticism has guided the town.
Following the Rule of St Benedict the monks of New Norcia live a life of work and prayer and all are welcome to join the monks at prayer.
Christian monasticism originated amongst men and women who sought union with God in the desert or far off places removed from civilization. Originally practiced by solitary individuals, monasticism gradually developed into structured community life. One of many rules, the Rule of St Benedict was simple and adaptable and gave priority to communal life based on a balance of Prayer and Work.
In Benedict’s Rule he establishes the hierarchy of the monastery, the arrangements regarding prayer and work, details concerning the food, drink and clothing of monks, correction and relations with the outside world. In all these regulations his aim is to give the strong something to strive after but at the same time not drive the weak away. The daily program is designed to allow for periods of silence, prayer, work, and the slow, deep reading of scripture and approved texts.
The Rule calls for promises of stability, obedience and “conversion of life”. Stability enables continuity of community life, obedience ensures adherence to the Rule, administered by an Abbot, and conversion of life makes way for ongoing growth into the way of Christ. New Norcia would never have come about, or continued, were it not for the spirit of St Benedict and his Rule, which led the founders to build a stable monastic community as the cornerstone of all its life. One of the most famous sections of the Rule is Chapter 72: The Good Zeal of Monks. It is a summary statement of what Benedictine monastic life is all about.
Benedictine monks and nuns learn early in their initiation into the monastic life that this life is characterized by the ever-renewed effort to ‘listen’ to God. Their life of humble, loving, serviceable obedience presupposes their determination to give themselves completely to ‘searching for God’. Whatever your background or beliefs, the monks invite you to join the Community to pray the Divine Office or to celebrate Mass.
Roman Catholic men who are interested in the possibility of joining our monastery are invited to contact the Vocations Director. If you are interested, you may be invited to stay in our Guesthouse.
Normally we ask you to come for an initial visit for a period varying from a week to a month.
The next step is a period postulancy (3-12 months) during wihich you live, pray, and work with the community.
If you are accepted as a candidate, you are admitted as a novice for one year, during which you will study the Rule of St Benedict, the Constitutions of our Congregation, monstaic spirituality etc.
At the end of the novitiate year, you may be admitted to temporary (simple) profession for a period of three years during which further studies may be undertaken e.g. some monks undertake a degree in theology, others focus more on practical skills.
After this three years of temorary profession, you would prepare for final (solemn) profession for the rest of your life.
Some monks are ordained priest, others are not. That depends on the community’s need for priests, as well as on the willingness of a monk to be ordained.
From the time Benedict of Nursia (AD 480-547) set out on his monastic search for God, ordinary Christians sought to draw guidance from his spiritual teaching. A form of common life arose in which lay people and secular clergy were affiliated with his communities, and this continues to the present day. The word ‘oblate’ comes from the Latin oblatus which means ‘one [who is] offered’.
Living in a monastery does not mean you do not need money. Every monastery has to be able to function in the "outside" world. They do have their own gardens but there are items that even they need to purchase. To do this every monastery sells items to earn money. Each monastery sells different items and have different things that they are known for. Here are some pictures of items that this monastery sells.
A variety of cute books
Adorable "worry" stones
New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town and has a unique heritage. Founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks, the town has had many purposes; a mission, a monastery, a provider of education and now as a place of spiritual retreat.
But it is not only the majestic buildings set amongst the Australian bush that sets New Norcia apart; its history is also encapsulated in the archival records of New Norcia and in the library and museum collections.
After our wonderful visit to the Monastery and buying tons in the gift shop we keep traveling in our caravans. Almost as soon as we start we are sidetracked again! We end up in the Wildflowers Interpretative Education Center.
Entry and a comprehensive tour of the Wildflower packing, drying and dying sheds is free. There are eleven countries that we export flowers to, and the colors and volume of each flower is mind blowing.
The paddocks around the packing sheds are used to crop everlasting and kangaroo paws. Many of variety of flowering gums and shrubs are also bound for export.
The 4000 acres of flowers that grow on the farm have been captured by the ‘Leyland’ brothers, as well as the photos from Kalbarri to Esperance. There is a video about the Wildflower Farm that gets shown in the restaurant area. Staff are trained to give information to travellers with a selection of maps and guides.
Hanging above your heads as soon as you walk into our shop are a flourish of pink and white everlastings, as well as some vibrant yellow daisies. If your planning to come and buy some of the range, make sure you get here quick because everything hanging on our roof is just $2.00!
Pink everlastings are sprouting up all over the place as the temperature rises. 34km from the post office west of Moora along the North west road.
Here are some incredible educational information about this wonderful place.
The partnership between the Shire of Moora and Western Wildflower Farm involves three major components. These components include the development of this website, a Wildflower Interpretative Education Centre at Western Wildflower Farm and finally a School Education Program.
The importance of developing a dedicated website featuring detailed information about Western Australia’s wildflowers was identified. A site focuses on road conditions, where species are flowering and general visitor information. The difference this site offers is the weekly updates during June through to November.
The "Gateway to the Wildflowers"
The Wildflower Interpretative Education Centre is described as the “Gateway to the Wildflowers”. This dedicated Interpretative Education Center is for tourists seeking a wildflower experience. The Centre displays a photography section naming over 150 species and includes general information about each species. The Center also features a wildflower garden where 20 different species are grown within the grounds. Large location maps are also displayed at the Centre as well as weekly updates of where species are currently flowering.
Educating our Youth
The School Education Program component focuses on educating our youth about our natural resource available to us in Western Australia. Our youth need to be aware of our resource and learn how to sustain it for future generations. The education program includes field trips teaching students botanical and common name species and what conditions the species can be found grown in. The program also includes the students creating a wildflower display which will be exhibited publicly.
After having a look about taking pictures of all the wildflowers and having a really fun time we move on and soon find ourselves in the Shire of Moora.
The Shire of Moora is a busy little town that has everything one could want to have a great life. They work hard as accommodating everyone from young to elderly. With a Vision for the town as they do It is easy to see what the attraction is about the shire.
Vision: "Shire of Moora - a vibrant, affordable Regional Center with a growing, caring community."
It looks like they don't have a massage therapist. I'll have to look into moving here just for fun. I love that they even have a Performing Arts Center that is very active. The depth and breadth of what they perform is extremely impressive! The amount of parks and services is better than most towns I know of, and the amusing sculptures and the town clock shows that they are very willing to be whimsical here in Moora.
There is even a Wildflower drive that they have mapped out and hope you will come see.
We have fun doing a short cranny poke into some of the quaint shops before we have to go and I have to say everyone was so friendly and willing to talk with us.
We leave Moora and continue on our way to Geraldton. Ann is such a great tour guide but she is quite unpredictable at times. We no sooner get back on the road then she veers off on a side rode and we all follow her wondering where she is going to. When we get there we are stunned. There is a huge field of wildflowers as far as one can see. We all get out and take tons of pictures. It's like a travel brochure but it's real!
Getting out we find a Lechenaultia Macrantha!
Lechenaultia macrantha is a species of low growing plant found on sandy or gravelly soils in Western Australia.
The species, when viewed from above, has a wreath-like form during its flowering period around August to November. The prostrate habit of Lechenaultia macrantha is between fifty and one hundred and fifty millimetres in height and spreading out to one metre. The branches are fleshy, the leaves are narrow, linear, and up to forty millimetres in length. The large yellow, pink, red flowers are arranged at the terminus of branches in a ring. The diameter of the five petals is between thirty and thirty five millimetres.
The distribution of the species is the Geraldton Sandplains and Avon Wheatbelt regions in the southwest of the state.Lechenaultia macrantha is placed in the family Goodeniaceae, nearly all of which are found in Australia's arid regions. A common name for the plant is Wreath lechenaultia.
Walking a bit farther we find an Upside Down Pea. Leptosema is a genus of flowering plants from the legume family Fabaceae. This species occur in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
We get back into are vehicles and keep driving on to Geraldton. Arriving in Geraldton in good time we are able to see some of the sights before we get to our accommodations for the night.
The construction of the St Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral started in 1916 but was not completed until 1938. The cathedral was designed by Monsignor John Hawes who was both an architect and a priest.
The memorial for the World War II cruiser HMAS Sydney is located on top of nearby Mount Scott. The memorial recognizes the loss of the light cruiser during a mutually destructive fight with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran off Shark Bay in November 1941, with none of the 645 aboard surviving. A temporary memorial, consisting of a large boulder, a flagpole, and a bronze plaque, was erected in 1998. A permanent memorial (made up of four major elements: a steel based on the ship's prow, a granite wall listing the ship's company, a bronze statue of a woman looking out to sea and waiting in vain for Sydney to return, and a dome made up of 645 stainless steel seagulls) was dedicated on November 18 2001, the day before the 60th anniversary of the battle.
We end up at our Caravan Park and finally get parked and settled. We all get our chairs our and set up in a circle so we can eat our dinners and chat about the day's events and what we have learned.
My knee is still cranky so I only have 930 steps. It is better than yesterdays steps but I get frustrated. I'm being good though with the encouragement of my ride mates and taking it easy on the knee. I am down to 196 pounds though! I really can't wait for my back surgery.
Well It's time for sleep and a well earned one at that.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Hi all! Better late than never I guess. I was going to take today off but it's been a good day overall but one really big stressor for me happened so I decided to come play here instead!
I can't believe I'm on another trek! So I'll do the best I can. I'll have to start checking on this board throughout the day.
I'm glad we stopped at The Williams Woolshed! What a cool place that was! I've always loved crocheting and knitting with wool. I ended up learning about sheep shearing in the old days.
Shearing sheds (or wool sheds) are large sheds located on sheep stations to accommodate large scale sheep shearing activities. Regional variants of shearing shed architecture throughout Australia and New Zealand have been identified through different uses of building materials and local styles of design.
It is usually regarded as necessary to be able to shed, and keep dry, sheep for two days of shearing. Wet or damp sheep may cause health problems for the shearers and damp wool can't be pressed. In many instances sheep are held under the shed or in an adjacent area known as a sweating shed. In the shearing shed the woolly sheep will be penned on a slatted wooden or woven mesh floor above ground level. After shearing the shearing shed may also provide warm shelter for newly shorn sheep if the weather is likely to be cold and/or wet.
Ideally shearers should not have to cross the shearing board with their sheep or move them excessive lengths. Earlier shed plans often had the catching pen on the opposite side of the release chutes which necessitated shearers crossing the board and paths with the roustabout. In Australia and New Zealand a "Roustabout" can be any worker with broad-based, non-specific skills, in any industry. However, they are more commonly found in rural employment, especially sheep farming.
The Wool Room is planned to reduce walking distances for all shed hands. The shorn fleece is picked up by the roustabout and cast onto a wool table for skirting, rolling and classing, before being placed in the appropriate wool bin. Good light is essential for quality shearing, wool classing and grinding etc., and is a very significant factor affecting sheep flow in the penning area. In the southern hemisphere southern walls can have translucent sheeting installed there as a source of natural lighting because direct sunlight is never a problem.
Good ventilation is essential to provide fresh air and improve working conditions during hot weather. Shearing sheds can become extremely hot, even in cooler climates, during the summer. The body heat of the sheep and the insulating qualities of wool contribute to the problem.
Sheep shearing, shearing or clipping is the process by which the woollen fleece of a sheep is cut off. The person who removes the sheep's wool is called a shearer. Typically each adult sheep is shorn once each year. The annual shearing most often occurs in a shearing shed, a facility especially designed to process often hundreds and sometimes more than 3,000 sheep per day.
Sheep-shearing was an annual June event in medieval England, culminating in the sheep-shearing feast. In Australia, up until the 1870s, squatters washed their sheep in nearby creeks prior to shearing. Later some expensive hot water installations were constructed on some of the larger stations for the washing. Sheep washing in Australia was influenced by the sheep breeders of Saxony in Germany who washed their sheep and by the Spanish practice of washing the wool after shearing. There were three main reasons for the custom in Australia:
1. The English manufacturers demanded that Australian woolgrowers provide their fleeces free from vegetable matter, burrs, soil, etc.
2. The dirty fleeces were hard to shear and demanded that the metal blade shears be sharpened more often.
3. Wool in Australia was carted by bullock team or horse teams and charged by weight. Washed wool was lighter and did not cost as much to transport.
The practice of washing the wool rather than the sheep evolved from the fact that hotter water could be used to wash the wool, than that used to wash the sheep. When the practice of selling wool in the grease (with the Lanolin left in) occurred in the 1890s, wool washing became obsolete.
Australia and New Zealand had to discard the old methods of wool harvesting and evolve more efficient systems to cope with the huge numbers of sheep involved. Shearing was revolutionized by the invention of an Australian sheepgrower, Frederick York Wolseley. His machines made in Birmingham England by his business The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company were introduced after 1888, reducing second cuts and shearing time. By 1915 most large sheep station sheds in Australia had installed machines, driven by steam or later by internal combustion engines.
The wool is removed by following an efficient set of movements, devised by Godfrey Bowen in c. 1950, (the Bowen Technique) or the Tally-Hi method developed in 1963 and promoted by the Australian Wool Corporation. Sheep struggle less using the Tally-Hi method, reducing strain on the shearer and there is a saving of about 30 seconds in shearing each one. When one is talking about one sheep it's not much but when one is talking about 3,000 sheep that's a lot!
Once the entire fleece has been removed from the sheep, the fleece is thrown, clean side down, on to a wool table by a shed hand. The wool table top consists of slats spaced approximately 12 cm apart. This enables short pieces of wool, the locks and other debris, to gather beneath the table separately from the fleece. The fleece is then skirted by one or more wool rollers to remove the sweat fribs and other less desirable parts of the fleece. The removed pieces largely consist of shorter, seeded, burry or dusty wool etc. which is still useful in the industry. As such they are placed in separate containers and sold along with fleece wool. Other items removed from the fleece on the table, such as feces, skin fragments or twigs and leaves, are discarded a short distance from the wool table so as not to contaminate the wool and fleece.
Following the skirting of the fleece, it is folded, rolled and examined for its quality in a process known as wool classing, which is performed by a registered and qualified wool classer. Based on its type, the fleece is placed into the relevant wool bin ready to be pressed (mechanically compressed) when there is sufficient wool to make a wool bale.
Wool Bales on the way to market.
Blade shears consist of two blades arranged similarly to scissors except that the hinge is at the end farthest from the point (not in the middle). The cutting edges pass each other as the shearer squeezes them together and shear the wool close to the animal's skin. Blade shears are still used today but in a more limited way. Blade shears leave some wool on a sheep and this is more suitable for cold climates where the sheep needs some protection from the elements. For those areas where no powered-machinery is available blade shears are the only option. Blades are more commonly used to shear stud rams.
During Australia's long weekend in June 2010, 111 machine shearers and 78 blade shearers shore 6,000 Merino ewes and 178 rams at the historic 72 stand North Tuppal station. Along with the shearers there were 107 wool handlers and penners-up and more than 10,000 visitors to witness this event in the restored shed.
A culture has evolved out of the practice of sheep shearing, especially in post-colonial Australia and New Zealand. The sheep-shearing feast is the setting for Act IV of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale.
"Wife make us a dinner, spare flesh neither corne,
Make wafers and cakes, for our sheepe must be shorne,
At sheep shearing neighbors none other thing craue,
but good cheer and welcome, like neighbors to haue"
On that we bid adieu to the Woolshed and drive to the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. What a wonderful place this is that Ann has found for us. The Canoes that she's hired are so fun and we can't help but splash and play with the paddles as we race to the island. The first island we visit is the Seal Island.
Seal Island is an island located approximately 8.5 kilometres (5 mi) south-east of Albany. The island is located approximately 3 kilometers offshore from Frenchman Bay in King George Sound. The island is designated as a nature reserve and has a total area of 2.8 hectares.
George Vancouver named Seal Island in 1791. The island is composed entirely of granite and is only accessible at the western end. Below are some of the animals we see.
The Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) lives only in Western Australia and South Australia and nowhere else in the world. The total population of these animals is only about 10,000 to 12,000, which makes the Australia sea lion one of the rarest sea lion species in the world. They can live for up to 20 years of age.
Sea lions have a blunt dog-like snout and can be recognised as 'eared' seals by their ear flaps. The males (called bulls) may reach about 2.5 metres long and weigh up to 300 kilograms. They have chocolate brown fur, with a creamy crown and neck. Females (called cows) are silvery grey above and creamy yellow below, growing up to 1.8 metres long and weighing up to 105 kilograms. Pups are born with chocolate brown fur, which is lost after the first moulting phase.
Bottlenose dolphins are actually small whales, and belong to the group known as 'toothed whales'. They are air breathing mammals so, even though they have adapted to the marine environment, they still must come to the surface to breathe through the blowhole on top of their heads. The common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) are so named because they have a short rounded snout or 'beak' that resembles a bottle.
Bottlenose dolphins are sleek and streamlined and can travel at speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour. They have a prominent dorsal fin, which can be seen slicing through the water. Bottlenose dolphins vary in size, shape and color depending on where they are found. In general dolphins have a dark grey back and a light grey belly. This helps to camouflage the animal so when potential predators (such as killer whales or sharks) look up from the deep, the light grey belly blends in with bright surface waters. When seen from above, the grey back blends in with the deep dark waters below. Bottlenose dolphin calves weigh around 15-30 kilograms at birth and around 70-130 centimetres long. They will grow up to seven times their original body weight in their first year. An adult will reach 2-4 metres and weigh between 150-650 kilograms. Bottlenose dolphins can live to over 30 years of age.
Bottlenose dolphins eat around 15 kilograms of food per day consisting of a wide variety of fish, squid and octopuses. The offshore form may be able to dive to depths of more than 600 meters to catch food. Dolphins use echolocation for hunting and navigating. The clicking sounds they make travel through the water hitting objects up to 200 metres in front and echoing back to the dolphin, which allows them to work out the size, shape, speed, distance and direction of their prey. Working together as a group, dolphins can trap schools of fish or squid by rounding them up and diving into the middle to feed, swallowing their food whole and head first.
We then make our way to Penguin Island to see the wee little ones. We learned about them on the other Trek but let's refresh our memories.
The little penguin is the smallest of the 17 penguin species and is the only one that nests along Australia's mainland coast. These flightless seabirds are superbly adapted to the marine environment. Their wings have evolved into flippers with which they propel themselves, 'flying' underwater. On land they stand upright, walking or waddling awkwardly on their hind legs. Little penguins have a life expectancy of 6 or 7 years, although some survive for 20 years.
Little penguins are a bluish-grey colour, with a white underside and throat. They have a black bill, pale pink feet and silvery-grey eyes. The males are slightly bigger than the females, and have a deeper bill and a larger head. Adults stand about 40 centimetres tall and weigh about a kilogram.
The little penguin colony on Penguin Island eats more than 100 tonnes of fish every year. Little penguins can swim 8 kilometers per hour and dive as deep as 60 meters to catch pilchards, whitebait and other small fish. The birds may venture up to 200 kilometers from Penguin Island on extended feeding excursions, but while breeding they generally feed within 15 kilometers of the island. The shallow nearshore waters of Becher Point, which is just south of Penguin Island in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, is a very important nursery area for juvenile whitebait, the little penguin's favourite food while rearing its chicks.
In Western Australia, little penguins have declined in number since European settlement. Predation by introduced animals such as foxes, dogs and cats has had a severe impact on birds nesting on the mainland and colonies are now largely confined to offshore islands. At sea, penguins are vulnerable to hazards such as discarded plastics and fishing line, boat strikes and oil pollution, and are also taken by natural predators like sea lions and sharks. Other impacts include people trampling their nest sites, loss of suitable habitat and destabilization of foredunes (which may prevent penguins from accessing nest sites).
The little penguin has up to nine different calls ranging from short, sharp barks when at sea and sharp, snorting yelps when disturbed. Little penguins are excellent swimmers and are able to spend long periods at sea but they generally spend the day at sea and return to their colonies after dark.
Well after a fun filled day in the Park we all pour back into the campers to finish our drive up to Perth and our hotel. I sure hope I can get to the laundry so I can wash all my clothes for the next day! I also want to check on my bags and get some of my extra clothes out since we will be spending some days in towns. I'd really like to look better than on the trail.
We arrive at Quest on James in good time. Apparently we all have 'lead footed drivers' and have plenty of time to shower, exchange clothes, wash clothes and get ready for the marrow.
I only did 600 steps today since my knee was still cranky from yesterday and I did no exercise since I decided to celebrate Mothers Day as if I was still in the USA. But I'll be ready for tomorrow no matter what happens. Have a great sleep everyone and I'll see you in the morning.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I woke up this morning just loving what we did so much I did one more excursion. I went to the Torndirrup National Park.
Torndirrup National Park is a national park in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Torndirrup National Park has many impressive rock formations on the coast. These include the Gap, Natural Bridge and the Blowholes all shaped from the local granite.
The area is composed of three major rock type, one of these being gneiss. We learned about this type earlier in the Trek. The oldest of these was formed 1300-1600 million years ago. This rock type can be seen along the cliff walls of the Gap. The granites were formed later as the Australian Plate collided with the Antarctic Plate 1160 million years ago as molten rock rose to the surface. These granites are visible in the tors atop Stony Hill.
A large array of floral species can be found within the park including the Woolly-bush, peppermint tree, Swamp Yate, various Banksias and Karri forest. Coastal plants such as native rosemary, banjine and thick leafed fanflower are found in the heath. The park is also home to the very rare Albany Woolly-bush and the critically endangered Blue Tinsel Lily of which only a single population exists.
Adenanthos sericeus, commonly known as Woolly Bush, is a shrub native to the south coast of Western Australia. It has bright red but small and obscure flowers, and very soft, deeply divided, hairy leaves.
The Woolly Bush mostly grows as an upright, spreading shrub but occasionally takes the habit of a small tree up to 5 m tall. It has erect branches that are covered in short hairs when young, but these are lost with age. Leaves may be up to 40 mm long, and repeatedly divide by threes into from 5 to 50 narrow laciniae, circular in cross-section, with a diameter of less than 0.5 mm.
Flowers are red, and occur alone or in small groups, hidden within the foliage at the end of branches. As with most other Proteaceae, each flower is composed of a tubular perianth of four united tepals, ending in a structure called a limb; and a single pistil, the stigma of which is initially trapped inside the limb, but is released at anthesis. In the Woolly Bush, the perianth is bright red, about 28 mm long, hairy on the outside but smooth and hairless inside. The style is about 40 mm long; being much longer than the perianth, it is very sharply bent for as long as the stigma remains trapped within the limb, and then springs erect. The fruit is an oval-shaped achene about 5 mm long.
Agonis flexuosa (Peppermint Tree) is a species of tree that grows in the south west of Western Australia. It is easily the most common of the Agonis species, and is one of the most recognizable trees of Western Australia, being commonly grown in parks and on road verges in Perth.
The species is commonly known as Western Australian Peppermint, Swan River peppermint and willow myrtle for its weeping habit.
The Peppermint Tree occurs mainly as a small and busty tree, usually less than 10 metres tall, although it may grow to 15 metres. It has fibrous, black and long bark, and long, narrow, dull green leaves, with tightly clustered inflorescences of small, white flowers in the axes. It grows in a weeping habit, and looks remarkably like the weeping willow from a distance. Leaves are narrow and reach a length of 150mm. It is most readily identified by the powerful odour of peppermint emitted when the leaves are crushed or torn.
It flowers between August and December. The fruit is a hard capsule, 3 to 4 mm across, with three valves producing small seeds.
Adenanthos × cunninghamii, commonly known as Woollybush, Albany Woollybush or Prostrate Woollybush, is a hybrid shrub in the family Proteaceae. It is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia.
It has an erect and spreading habit, growing to 1.5 m in height. Young branches are covered by short white hairs, but these are lost with age. The leaves are about 25 mm long, and deeply divided into three narrow segments, each of which is typically further divided into two laciniae. Thus most leaves have 6 laciniae, though sometimes there are 8, and very rarely fewer than six. Each lacinia is about 3 mm wide, somewhat concave, with a linear margin.
The single red flowers appear in September and October and again in March. It has a similar appearance to Adenanthos sericeus, but has leaf segments that are flattened rather than cylindrical like those of A. sericeus.
Calectasia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Dasypogonaceae. They are commonly referred to as Tinsel Lilies, and are endemic to southern Australia. The Blue Tinsel Lily is a rhizomatous, clump forming, woody perennial herb growing between 0.1 m and 0.6 m high to 0.3 m wide. Blue Tinsel Lily flowers are vivid blue/purple, anthers are red and yellow.
Details of the ages of sexual maturity, life expectancy and natural mortality of this species are unknown. However, the species is known to be slow growing. The flowering period occurs from June to October. The species is believed to flower between three and five years, and presumably has a substantially longer period to attain maximum reproductive potential. A portion of the adult population was killed by fire in 1997 and several juveniles still had not flowered by 2004 suggesting a long juvenile period.
Little is known about the levels of flower and fruit production of the Blue Tinsel Lily. However, it is speculated that because of the species' floral architecture, it is pollinated by wasps and is therefore indicative of floral mimicry.
Fauna such as kangaroos, bush rats, pygmy possums and short nosed bandicoots are found within the park. Many reptile species are also to be found including Tiger snakes, bardick, children's python and Dugites. In 1876 the rare Dibbler was found in the park.
Tiger snakes are a type of venomous snake found in southern regions of Australia, including its coastal islands and Tasmania. These snakes are highly variable in their colour, often banded like those on a tiger, and forms in their regional occurrences.
Individuals also show seasonal variation in colour. The total length can be up to 2.9 meters. The patterning is darker bands, strongly contrasting or indistinct, which are pale to very dark in color. Coloration is composed of olive, yellow, orange-brown, or jet-black, and the underside of the snake is light yellow or orange. The tiger snake uses venom to dispatch its prey, and may bite an aggressor; they are potentially fatal to humans. Tolerant of low temperatures, the snake may be active on warmer nights. When threatened, they will flatten their bodies and raise their heads above the ground in a classic prestrike stance.
Children's python (Antaresia childreni) is a nonvenomous python species found in Australia. Adults grow to an average length of about 1m, with a maximum of 1.5m. The body is slightly laterally compressed with a short tail. Anterior maxillary teeth and mandibular teeth are very long, gradually decreasing in size posteriorly.
The diet consists of reptiles, birds and small mammals, particularly microbats which they catch by dangling from stalactites in caves, which they commonly inhabit, and snatch them out of the air as they fly past.
The Dugite (Pseudonaja affinis) is a venomous, potentially lethal, snake of the family Elapidae native to Western Australia. Dugites are coloured grey, green or brown. The colors vary widely between individuals and are an unreliable means of identifying species. The most distinguishing characteristic is the shape of the head, this is small compared to the neck, and grades imperceptibly into the body. They can grow up to 2m long.
Its venom is potentially one of the most lethal in the world, causing coagulopathic and procoagulant effects. Dugites generally avoid biting humans, but risks of encounters rise when they are most active during the mating season through October and November.
Dibbler is the common name for Parantechinus apicalis, an endangered species of marsupial. It is an inhabitant of the southwest mainland of Western Australia and some offshore islands. It is a member of the Dasyuromorphia order, and the only member of the genus, Parantechinus. The dibbler is a small, carnivorous, nocturnal, with speckled fur that is white around the eyes.
The dibbler was believed to have become extinct until it was rediscovered in 1967 at Cheyne Beach on the south coast of Western Australia after a gap of 80 years. It remains an endangered species. The Perth Zoo in Western Australia operates a conservation project for the dibbler which is helpful in its survival and breeding, and along with the Department of Environment and Conservation have helped to breed and release more dibblers into the wild.
In the early 19th century, dibblers were widely distributed across Western Australia. By 1884, they were declared extinct, but some were found on the southern coast of Western Australia in 1967. They are threatened by habitat loss (land clearing, forest fires) and predators. Their predators are mainly feral foxes and feral cats.
Dibblers weigh about 40–100 grams and eat insects, small reptiles, and nectar. The dibbler is a solitary, mostly nocturnal species. The dibbler's habitat is an unburnt vegetation area with a thick litter layer and sandy soils. They can be found sleeping in hollow logs and caves during the day.
Birdlife includes honeyeaters, wattlebirds, Button Quail, Western Rosella and a variety of sea birds.
Buttonquail or hemipodes are members of a small family of birds, Turnicidae, which resemble, but are unrelated to, the quails of Phasianidae. Buttonquails are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more brightly coloured of the sexes, and initiates courtship. Unusually, the buttonquails are polyandrous, with the females circulating among several males and expelling rival females from her territory. Both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 12 or 13 days, and the young are able to fly within two weeks of hatching.
They superficially resemble the true quails of the genus Coturnix, but differ from them in lacking a hind toe and a crop. The females of this family also possess a unique vocal organ created by an enlarged trachea and inflatable bulb in the oesophagus, which they use to produce a booming call.
The Western Rosella (Platycercus icterotis) less commonly known as the Stanley Rosella, Earl of Derby's parakeet or Yellow-cheeked parakeet, is the smallest species of rosella and is found in the South West of Australia, in Eucalypt forests and timbered areas. These are smallish parrots measuring 25–30 cm in length and weighing from 28 to 80 g, with an average of 63.3 g. They are red from the head to the breast with white or beige-ish yellow cheeks and blue and green patterned wings with males being slightly larger and having a more vibrant yellow cheek colouring. Their bills are a grey 'horn' colour like most Australian parrots.
Western Rosellas socialize in pairs but will often congregate in largish groups of twenty or so to forage when the season permits; their diet is herbivorous, consisting mostly of grass and seeds. They nest mostly in hollow tree trunks usually a meter or so deep and will favor hollows that have dust in the bottom (as may be created by insects boring out the tree or limb). The female incubates the eggs and leaves in the morning and afternoon to eat food found by the male.
Whales and seals can be seen from the cliffs of the park in the correct season. Also the rare and ancient Main's assassin spider, currently listed as threatened, was found to inhabit the park during a survey conducted in 2008.
The park has numerous walks mostly of a distance of less than 1,500 metres, including the Jimmy Newhills walk and the Stony Hill Heritage Trail walk. The longest trail is the 10 km Bald Head Walk along Flinders peninsula finishing at Bald Head at the eastern edge of the park.
Apparently I really was enjoying myself and not paying attention to how far I was walking because I did 2,639 steps today and worked on clearing the trails for 2 hours! Needless to say I'm exhausted and sore but I had a great time today learning so much and seeing all the wildlife. I'll see those who are going on the Central Trek. I'm sleeping tomorrow and letting Ann drive!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Wow! Is it really almost over? I feel almost lost thinking about not being on the trek. I'm glad there is the Central one to do next. I love backpacking and hiking. Two things I am not capable of doing right now. Maybe after my back surgery and the year healing as well. I've really enjoyed posting/blogging this trek and am happy that others enjoyed reading what I learned. The Blogs on my spark page have pictures now thanks to Big Angel and they really make a huge difference.
I awake this morning with all these thoughts roaming around in my head. Listening to the birds warble and cry in the morning air as I awaken. Realizing that the salt air gave me a great sleep as it always does. I stretch my whole body feeling the new muscles that have been built on this trek and realize how good it has been for me. I really don't want to wake up because I don't want it to end but I really want a shower, bed and to see Albany and all it has to offer. The lure of a bed with fresh linen is to much for me so I arise and start my morning. Oatmeal, Teechino and dried fruits are my breakfast. It is the ultimate food for me. Adding in Chia seeds is just the best. I pack my backpack up, get my tent rolled waiting for the oatmeal to thicken. Then I break my fast watching the waves on the ocean that is not to far away. Listening to the ever pounding surf and watching the sea birds join me in breaking their fast as well. After eating I wash everything up and finish packing the last minute items in their place. We all get on the trail and are kind of quiet each in their own thoughts about this trek.
As we start hiking out of Torbay beach we start talking and soon everyone is in a great mood. We all realize that this is it. The last time for some of us to be packing our packs and hiking out. We also realize that there is a whole new town for us to explore and to have someone else cooking for us and cleaning up after us! After being on the trail we've come to really appreciate being able to go out to eat and sleeping in a bed. We realize that not everyone has that depending on where you live.
Very soon we see Mutton Bird Island. Mutton Bird Island is an irregularly shaped island, with an area of 44 ha. Its highest point is 40 m asl. It is part of the Mutton Bird Island Group, lying close to the southern end of the south-western coast of Tasmania. It is also part of the Southwest National Park, and thus within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site. The island is part of the Port Davey Islands Important Bird Area, so identified by BirdLife International because of its importance for breeding seabirds.
Recorded breeding seabird and wader species are the Little Penguin (3000 pairs), Short-tailed Shearwater, (530,000 pairs), Fairy Prion (2500 pairs), Pacific Gull, Silver Gull and Sooty Oystercatcher.
The Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest species of penguin. The penguin, which usually grows to an average of 33 cm in height and 43 cm in length (though specific measurements vary by subspecies), is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand, with possible records from Chile. Apart from Little Penguins, they have several common names. In Australia, they are also referred to as Fairy Penguins because of their tiny size. In New Zealand, they are also called Little Blue Penguins, or just Blue Penguins, owing to their slate-blue plumage, and they are called Kororā in Māori.
Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evidence suggests the split between Eudyptula and Spheniscus occurred around 25 million years ago, with the ancestors of the White-flippered and Little Penguins diverging about 2.7 million years ago.
Like those of all penguins, the little penguin's wings have developed into flippers used for swimming. The Little Penguin typically grows to between 30 and 33 cm tall and usually weighs about 1.5 kilogram on average. The head and upperparts are blue in colour, with slate-grey ear coverts fading to white underneath, from the chin to the belly. The flippers are blue. The dark grey-black beak is 3–4 cm long, the irises pale silvery- or bluish-grey or hazel, and the feet pink above with black soles and webbing. An immature individual will have a shorter bill and lighter upper parts. Like most seabirds, they have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years, but flipper ringing experiments show in very exceptional cases up to 25 years in captivity.
The greatest threat to Little Penguin populations has been predation (including nest predation) from cats, foxes, large reptiles, ferrets and stoats. Due to their diminutive size and the introduction of new predators, some colonies have been reduced in size by as much as 98% in just a few years, such as the small colony on Middle Island, near Warrnambool, Victoria, which was reduced from approximately 600 penguins in 2001 to less than 10 in 2005. Because of this threat of colony collapse, conservationists pioneered an experimental technique using Maremma Sheepdogs to protect the colony and fend off would-be predators.
Little Penguins spend the whole day swimming in the sea. They are out at sunrise and hunt into the evening. Little Penguins preen their feathers to keep them waterproof. They do this by rubbing a tiny drop of oil onto every feather from a special gland above the tail.
These birds feed by hunting fish, squid and other small sea animals, for which they travel and dive quite extensively. They are generally inshore feeders. The use of data loggers has provided information of the diving behavior of Little Penguins. 50% of their dives go no deeper than 2 m and the mean diving time is 21 seconds. Yet, they are able to dive as deep as 20m and remained submerged as long as 60 sec.
Little Penguins mature at different ages. The female matures at 2 years old. The male, however, matures at 3 years old. Little Penguins only remain faithful to their partner in breeding seasons and whilst hatching eggs. At other times of the year they do tend to swap burrows. They exhibit site fidelity to their nesting colonies and nesting sites over successive years.
Little Penguins live year-round in large colonies, with each individual breeding pair forming a burrow in which to raise their chicks (of which two are born at a time, usually about 2 days apart). Little Penguins typically return to their colonies to feed their chicks at dusk. The birds will tend to come ashore in small groups to provide some defense against predators which might pick off individuals one by one. In Australia, the strongest colonies are usually on cat-free and fox-free islands.
South of Perth, Western Australia, visitors to Penguin Island are able to view penguins in a totally natural state. Less than one hour from the centre of the city, it is possible to see Little Penguins in all months, including visiting sensitive areas where they remain on land for extended periods for the purposes of molting.
At Phillip Island, a viewing area has been set up at the Phillip Island Nature Park to allow visitors to view the nightly "penguin parade". Lights and concrete stands have been erected to allow visitors to see but not photograph the birds interacting in their colony.
The Short-tailed Shearwater or Slender-billed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), also called Yolla or Moonbird, and commonly known as the muttonbird in Australia, is the most abundant seabird species in Australian waters, and is one of the few Australian native birds in which the chicks are commercially harvested
Each parent feeds the single chick for 2–3 days and then leaves for up to three weeks in search of food. These foraging trips can cover a distance of 1,500 km and mean the chick may be left unattended for over a week. When the chicks fledge they weigh around 900 g, and may be heavier than their parents.
The Fairy Prion (Pachyptila turtur) is a small seabird with the standard prion plumage of black upperparts and white underneath with an "M" wing marking. The Fairy Prion is the smallest prion and it measures between 23–28 cm long. Its plumage is blue-grey on its upperparts, and white underneath. They have a dark "M" on their upperparts extending to their wingtips, and their tail is wedge-shaped with a dark tip. They have a blue bill and feet.
The Fairy Prion is a member of the Pachyptila genus, and along with the Blue Petrel makes up the Prions. The prions are small and typically eat just zooplankton; however as a member of the Procellariiformes, they share certain identifying features. First, they have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns. Although the nostrils on the Albatross are on the sides of the bill. The bills of Procellariiformes are also unique in that they are split into between 7 and 9 horny plates. They produce a stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. The proventriculus is generally a glandular part of the stomach that may store and/or commence digestion of food before it progresses to the gizzard. This is used against predators as well as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights. Finally, they also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe. It excretes a high saline solution from their nose. The diet consists mainly of planktonic crustaceans and other tiny sea animals, which they feed at night from the water's surface.
They breed colonially and prefer small islands. The nest is situated in soil, hidden by vegetation and is dug with the bill or feet, or it is in a hollow in a crevice. When coming back to their nest at night, they will coo softly and listen for their mate.
The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is a very large gull, native to the coasts of Australia. It is moderately common between Carnarvon in the west, and Sydney in the east, although it has become scarce in some parts of the south-east, as a result of competition from the Kelp Gull, which has "self-introduced" since the 1940s.
Much larger than the ubiquitous Silver Gull, and nowhere near as common, Pacific Gulls are usually seen alone or in pairs, loafing around the shoreline, steadily patrolling high above the edge of the water, or sometimes zooming high on the breeze to drop a shellfish or sea urchin onto rocks.
Pacific Gulls are the only large gulls in their range, besides the occasional Kelp Gull. This species can range in length from 58 to 66 cm and span 137 to 157 cm across the wings. They typically weigh from 900 to 1,180 g. This species is mostly white, with dark wings and back, and a very thick (when compared to other gull species), powerful, red-tipped yellow bill. Young birds are mottled-brown all over, and attain their adult plumage only gradually: by its fourth year, a young Pacific Gull has usually become difficult to tell apart from an adult bird.
The Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) also known simply as "seagull" in Australia, is the most common gull seen in Australia. It has been found throughout the continent, but particularly at or near coastal areas. The Silver Gull should not be confused with the Herring Gull, which is called "silver gull" in many other languages but is a much larger, robust gull with no overlap in range. The Silver Gull has a sharp voice consisting of a variety of calls. The most common call is a harsh 'kwee-aarr'.
The head, body and tail are white. The wings are light grey with white spotted, black tips. Adults range from 40–45 cm in length. Mean wing span is 94 cm. Juveniles have brown patterns on their wings, and a dark beak. Adults have bright red beaks—the brighter the red, the older the bird.
Silver gulls are found in all states of Australia. It is a common species, having adapted well to urban environments and thriving around shopping centres and garbage dumps. The silver gull naturally feeds on worms, fish, insects and crustaceans. It is a successful scavenger, allowing increased numbers near human settlements.
Breeding occurs from August to December. The nest is located on the ground and consists of seaweed, roots and plant stems. The nests may be found in low shrubs, rocks and jetties. Typical clutch size is 1–3 eggs.
The Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus) is a species of oystercatcher. It is a wading bird endemic to Australia and commonly found on its coastline. It prefers rocky coastlines, but will occasionally live in estuaries. All of its feathers are black. It has a red eye, eye ring and bill, and pink legs.
Measuring 42 to 52 cm long with a bill length of 5–8 cm, the Sooty Oystercatcher has all black plumage, with pink-red legs and scarlet or orange-red bill and eyes. The heaviest of all oystercatchers, the Sooty Oystercatcher weighs up to 980 g, averaging around 819 g, with females larger and heavier. Males have shorter, thicker bills and females have longer, thinner bills. The 19% average difference in length is the most marked of any oystercatcher species. Immature birds have grey-brown legs, a bill tipped with brown, a browner cast to their plumage, and brown eyes. The bill, eyes and legs become red by the second year.
Preferring rocky shores, the Sooty Oystercatcher is endemic to Australia. There are an estimated 11,500 individuals, 4000 of the nominate race and 7500 of the northern race. However it is declared Rare in South Australia and Queensland, Near Threatened in Victoria and Endangered in New South Wales.
The Sooty Oystercatcher almost always forages in the intertidal zone, for the two hours either side of low tide. A field study published in 2011 showed that prey items differed markedly between the sexes with only a 36% overlap. Females focussed on soft-bodied prey which they could swallow whole such as fish, crabs, bluebottle jellyfish and various worm-like creatures such as cunjevoi, while males preferred hard-shelled prey such as mussels (Mytilus planulatus), sea urchins, turban shells (Turbo undulatus and Turbo torquata), and black periwinkle (Nerita atramentosa).
A clutch of two to three eggs is laid in a crevice in rocks or small hollow or flat on the ground, often on an island or high place where parent birds can keep watch. Tapered oval in shape, the eggs are buff to beige with dark brown and lavender dots and splotches and measure 63 mm long by 42 mm wide.
Reptiles present are the Metallic Skink and Tasmanian Tree Skink.
The Metallic Cool-skink or Metallic Skink (Niveoscincus metallicus) is a species of skink in the Scincidae family. It is endemic to Australia, found in southern Victoria, as well as in Tasmania where it is the most widespread and common lizard, occurring on many offshore islands in Bass Strait as well as the mainland. It gives birth to live young.
The Agile Cool-skink or Tasmanian Tree Skink (Niveoscincus pretiosus) is a species of skink in the Scincidae family. It is endemic to Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. It is viviparous, and may be found in a wide variety of habitats, from tall forests to rocky coastlines.
As we keep hiking and taking in all the sights we come upon a Windfarm. Those things are HUGE!
Australia has excellent wind resources by world standards. The southern coastline lies in the roaring forties and hundreds of sites have average wind speeds above 8 or even 9 m/s at 50 m above ground (the hub height of a modern wind generator). The southwest of Western Australia, southern South Australia, western Victoria, northern Tasmania and elevated areas of New South Wales and Queensland have good wind resources. Several states engaged in systematic wind speed monitoring in the 1980s and 1990s, the results of which are publicly available. Australian wind farms produce on average capacity factors of 30–35%, making wind an attractive option.
We look up and across Princess Royal Harbor and see our destination! Albany!
Princess Royal Harbour is a part of King George Sound on the South Coast Western Australia, and harbour to Albany. On its northern shore is the Port of Albany. George Vancouver named the harbour after Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Augusta Matilda; who was born when he sailed into the waters in September 1791. The harbour was less than two metres deep until it was dredged in 1901, and its entrance was dredged in 1952. The Princess Royal Harbour was the departure location for a large convoy of Australian troops in November 1914.
We pick up our pace all eager to get to Albany. Albany is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia and is the state capital. As of 2009, Albany's population was estimated at 33,600, making it the sixth-largest city in the state.
The city center is at the northern edge of Princess Royal Harbour, which is a part of King George Sound. The Central Business District is bounded by Mount Clarence to the east and Mount Melville to the west. The city is in the local government area of the City of Albany.
Albany was founded in January 1827 as a military outpost of New South Wales as part of a plan to forestall French ambitions in the region. The area was initially named Frederickstown in honor of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. In 1831, the settlement was transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony and renamed Albany by Governor James Stirling.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the town served as a gateway to the Eastern Goldfields and, for many years, it was the colony's only deep-water port, having a place of eminence on shipping services between Britain and its Australian colonies. The construction of Fremantle Harbour in 1893, however, saw its importance as a port decline, after which the town's industries turned primarily to agriculture, timber and, later, whaling. Unlike Perth and Fremantle, Albany was a strong supporter of Federation in 1901.
Today the town is a place of significance as a tourist destination and base from which to explore the south-west of the state and is well regarded for its natural beauty and preservation of heritage. The town has an important, though somewhat controversial, role in the ANZAC legend, being the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War.
Albany is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia, predating Perth and Fremantle by some two years.
The Albany region was first home to the Menang Noongar people, who made use of the area during the summer months for fishing and other activities. They called the area Kinjarling which means "the place of rain". Many town names in South-Western Australia end in "up" or "ing", which means "place of" in the Noongar language. They would sometimes camp near "Boondie Yokine" – roughly translated as Dog Rock. Early European explorers discovered evidence of fish traps located on Emu Point and on French, now Kalgan, River and a small "village" of bark dwellings that were, at the time, deserted.
Albany is the oldest continuous European settlement in Western Australia, founded in 1826, three years before the state capital of Perth. The King George Sound settlement was a hastily dispatched British military outpost, intended to forestall any plans by France for settlements in Western Australia.
The main industries of Albany consist of tourism, fishing and agriculture, although before the 1950s whaling was one of the major sources of income and employment for the population.
The Whaling Station, which closed operations in 1978, has now been converted into a museum of whaling, and features one of the 'Cheynes' whale chasers that were used for whaling in Albany. The station was the last operating whaling station in the Southern Hemisphere and the English-speaking world at its time of closing.
The Western Power Wind Farm in Albany is the largest and newest in Australia. Its 12 turbines, driven by strong southerly winds, can generate up to 75% of the city's electricity usage.
Albany also has a number of historic tourist sites including the Museum, Albany Convict Gaol, The Princess Royal Fortress (commonly known as The Forts), Patrick Taylor Cottage, which is the oldest dwelling in Western Australia, c1832. Albany has a great deal of historical significance to Western Australia.
Natural sights are also numerous, especially the rugged coastline, which includes the Natural Bridge and the Gap. The beaches have pristine white sand. The destroyer HMAS Perth was sunk in King George Sound in 2001 as a dive wreck. Albany is also close to two low mountain ranges, the Porongurups and Stirling Ranges.
Albany is also the southern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track walking trail. Which we know because we have just walked off it and into the city. We find our accommodations and all take a nice long shower and clean ourselves up so we can find food without people looking at us sideways!
Today is a small step day for me with only 1,470 steps and about 20 minutes of cleaning up parts of the trail. But I'm saving my knee for the next two days!
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