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Day 37 Trek

Thursday, May 09, 2013

We wake up to the morning serenade of the birds getting their breakfast. I decide to get my breakfast as well. My morning cup of Teechino and some oatmeal is just what I needed. We all pack up and out as the morning progresses. We hike over dunes and some more spectacular beaches. As we hike we see a huge rock sticking out over the tops of the trees. That, it seems, is Monkey Rock.

Monkey Rock, only slightly lower than Mount Hallowell to the north, has spectacular views over William Bay National Park (west) and Ratcliffe Bay, Ocean Beach and Nullaki peninsula, home of Anvil Beach. Wilson Head marks the eastern perimeter of Ratcliffe Bay, stretching out into the Great Southern Ocean. Monkey Rocks can be a dangerous place as there are no guard rails. Be extremely careful, especially if one is balance challenged. Monkey Rocks doesn't look like such a big deal from the bottom. Sure, they're big rocks poking out of the treetops, but why climb all the way up there? The answer is because of the incredible views from the top.

We make our way down and keep hiking. Moving through the hinterland is difficult at best and it is slow going. The brush keeps snagging on our clothes and packs. So we help each other out to make it easier. We finally get into Denmark. Now this Denmark is just the name of the town. lol It's not the country!

The coast line of the Denmark area was observed for the first time in 1627 by the Dutchman Fran├žois Thijssen, captain of the ship 't Gulden Seepaert (The Golden Seahorse). Captain Thijssen had discovered the south coast of Australia and charted about 1,800 kilometres of it between Cape Leeuwin and the Nuyts Archipelago. Thijssen named the discovered land after Pieter Nuyts, a high employee of the Dutch East India Company, who was aboard ship as a passenger. His name lives on in Nuytsia floribunda, the Western Australian Christmas Tree.
Two centuries later, when the first white people entered the land around the present Denmark River, the area was inhabited by the Noongar. These aborigines called the river and the inlet Kwoorabup, which means 'place of the black wallaby' (kwoor). The Noongar disappeared out of the Denmark region in the beginning of the 20th century.

Nuytsia floribunda, The Western Australian Christmas Tree, is a hemiparasitic plant found in Western Australia. The species is known locally as the Christmas Tree, displaying bright orange flowers during the Christmas season. A parasitic plant is one that derives some or all of its sustenance from another plant. Parasitic plants have a modified root, the haustorium, that penetrates the host plant and connects to the xylem, phloem, or both. The Xylem and Phloem are different types of transportation tissues for a plants vascular system.

The habit of the species is a tree up to 10 m high, or as a shrub. The rough bark is grey-brown. Flowers are a vivid yellow-orange, appearing between October and January. It is a root hemiparasite, is photosynthetic and mainly obtains water and mineral nutrients from its hosts. The haustoria arising from the roots of Nuytsia attach themselves to roots of many nearby plants and draw water and therefore nutrients from them. Almost all species are susceptible to attack, haustoria have even been found attached to underground cables. In botany, a haustorium (plural haustoria) is the appendage or portion of a parasitic fungus (the hyphal tip) or of the root of a parasitic plant that penetrates the host's tissue and draws nutrients from it. Haustoria do not penetrate the host's cell membranes. In natural settings Nuytsia withdraws relatively little from each individual host, but is attached to so many other plants that the benefit to this hemiparasitic tree is likely to be considerable.

The Nyungar people made use of the species during the season Kambarang, around October to early December, obtaining bark to make shields. The gum that exudes from the wound can be collected later, it is sweet and eaten raw.

Around 1885, timber leases were taken out in the Denmark River area, and 15 years later milling was at its peak with Denmark having a population of around 2,000. A railway line from Denmark to Albany was built to transport the karri timber, which was a wanted article all over the world. Many roads in London were paved with karri blocks, and British houses were built with timber from Denmark. However, as with anything that is overdone, resource depletion soon resulted in a total collapse of the timber industry. The population declined dramatically, and started to revive only with the introduction of the Group Settlement Scheme in the 1920s. By the 1960s the population had increased to 1,500 and Denmark was becoming attractive to alternative life-stylers and early retirees. Intensive agriculturists such as wine growers had discovered the value of the rich karri loam for their vineyards. Riesling and Chardonnay were the first grapes grown on Denmark soil, soon followed by other varieties. Within 50 years the area became a wine subregion of critical acclaim, as part of the Great Southern Wine Region. The first winery, Tinglewood, opened in 1976, and by 2008, over twenty vineyards had been established around Denmark. Tourism started when American soldiers, stationed in Albany during World War II, made outings to Denmark. After the war, Denmark became a popular holiday destination for Western Australians as well.

Denmark is surrounded by native woodland with a large variety of trees, including the eucalypts marri, karri, jarrah and red tingle. The latter can reach a height of 60 meters. A distinctive local tree is the Red-flowering Gum.

There are many indigenous bird species, including Splendid Fairy-wrens, Emus, Australian White Ibis, Australian Magpies and Australian Ringnecks. Many species of reptiles including snakes and skinks can be found. Marsupials such as the Western Grey Kangaroo, the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Common Brushtail Possum also live in the area.

The abundance of fish, squid and other marine life in the Denmark estuaries and along the coastline attracts Bottlenose Dolphins and seals; seasonally Southern Right Whales rest there during their long migrations to the north.

As we get into town we go straight to our accommodations and get cleaned up and do a quick walkabout to see what we can see in the town. I twisted my knee today and only got in 1333 steps and nothing else today. So it's time for a nice dinner and some well deserved sleep.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love the Christmas tree!

    Are you going on the Central Australian Trek?

    1680 days ago
    1681 days ago
    Beautiful pictures!
    1682 days ago
    Great blog - the WA Christmas Tree is magnificent in full bloom and a change from inside fur trees - remember our Christmas is full summertime and hot!!
    Hope the knee improves -you will need to be careful for a time.
    Sleep well, sweet dreams
    1682 days ago
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