Wildflowers in Western Australia – Spring 2016

Wildflowers in Spring 2016

This is something I have wanted to experience since moving to Perth over 5 years ago. Then a couple of weeks ago the local news reported “the best wildflower season for 10 years” thanks the rain we been having. Every cloud has a silver lining. So I hounded and nagged The Newby to get the new camper and ute sorted out, and it worked. We set off in search of the wreath flower over the September long weekend. We had a quick look at a 3 day self-drive itinerary and pulled out the map to make some loose plans and chose a road we hadn’t been on to leave on Saturday morning. The new set up made getting out the door a whole lot easier although some modifications will be needed on the diesel inflow if we are to fill the tank without creating a traffic hazard at the bowser.

On the road we headed for Toodyay for a coffee and a bikkie. We got there unscathed and enjoyed a chat with a local in the Coca Cola shop. I didn’t realise this shop was there, despite having spent a weekend in the town previously. On this occasion we got take aways, but now we have yet another reason to stop in Toodyay another time. During our break we examined the camper and everything seemed fine although the turnbuckles were loose so we took some time to make some adjustments. Then it was over to me for my first drive, headed to Wongan Hills for a lunch stop and a geocache. Arriving in town was like our previous experience of regional WA, in that the town was asleep. The visitors centre was closed, the bakery was closed and there was almost no one around. With the convenience of the new camper I was able to cook up a storm in the form of chicken quesadillas straight from the “4 wheels, 2 burners” cookbook. The Newby bought this for us when he was in the UK and it has some great recipes for easy cooking. I’m sure The Piper will be thrilled, after the food we ate on our big trip last year! Speaking of The Piper he had a great time clabbering over tractors, demanding I photograph him again!

With the turnbuckles tightened again we headed off in search of the wildflowers and arrived at Reynoldsons Flora Reserve in the mid afternoon. Unfortunately we had to stop to adjust a strap and I left my glasses on the lock box as we drove away. Having discovered they were missing we retraced our steps and found my prada frames snapped in two and my right lens shattered! An expensive afternoon on the road is still better than a cheap one at home so there was no option but to admire the scenery. The reserve shared its little secret with us, showing the grevillea armigera (prickly grevillea). This plant is unique to the area and resembles a black toothbrush. Ever since I planted a native garden in my first home I’ve loved the grevillea. This one is no exception. The other flowers and the views were equally good and we left this area refreshed and ready to find a home for the night.

We finally cruised into Dalwallinu in the late afternoon, in search of a spot to spend the night. Fortunately the van park had a site and allowed a fire. The Piper and The Newby were in their elements, getting the flames roaring while I cooked up a curry from the cook book. According to The Newby it was restaurant quality but in Dalwallinu, given its lack of options, that’s not saying much. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and the stars and the heat from the fire long after our neighbours had retired for the night. Needless to say we weren’t the first to rise but when we did there was a dawning of awakening regarding the perpetually loose turnbuckles. You can’t have the front and back ones facing the same direction! If you do, they (slowly) pull the camper in that direction!! They have to oppose each other!!! Hence the table and ladder no longer squeeze in between the lock box and the camper. The camper had shifted a good few centimeters towards the ute cab. Nothing for it but to lift the camper and move the ute forward and lower it back on. If only there weren’t so many flies!! With that done we  safely hit the road again to find wreath flowers not caged in (I hope).Along the way we stopped at Wubin (with the caged wreath flower) and Butine Rocks. Wubin has a great wheat museum and a few old cars on display, while Buntine Rocks has a busy camp ground (no amenities) and a great view from the top of the rock. The climb is easy and the flowers around the area are beautiful. Looks like we are well into wildflower country.

Our next scheduled stop, with our well secured camper was Perenjori. This is the home of the wreath flower and I expected (and wanted) to see it as soon as we arrived. But of course there was a late lunch to be had (an awesome cous cous salad) before we headed off blindly north. Not far out of town we decided to turn around and see if we could get any hints back in town. On the way back we took a slight diversion up a dirt road and found stunning pink blooms akin to the coloured christmas trees with lights on each branch. Fortunately they photograph almost as well as they look. They were sharing the road side with other stunners in various colours and forms.

Back in town, despite the near desertion, we found a board with a map indicating where the wreath flowers were. Of course as usual we were about 3 hours behind and with the daylight threatening to disappear we set off in the general direction. Our first and second stops were futile in terms of wreaths but we saw many stunning flowers and walked among them for ages. This part of the world is beautiful and because of the lateness of the day we had it ourselves. The Piper hit the road on his bike and we wandered along searching and finding natures own “fireworks on the ground”.

With the sun rapidly sinking we resigned ourselves to not finding the elusive wreath flowers and climbed into the car to head west and find a spot to stay the night in Three Springs or Carnamah. The Newby was driving and we hadn’t gone far when somehow I saw them! I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough, as though they would disappear. But they didn’t and over a few kilometers we found many. The late hour of the day meant we had them to ourselves and the three of us happily wandered along admiring the spectacle.

Now I might have taken a few photos of them but the colours and the shapes were so amazing and the light was perfect, so here are a few of my favourites.

Completely thrilled with our find we headed away to find somewhere to sleep off the excitement. In doing so The Newby’s new fangled GPS took us along a dirt road separating fields of wheat. The experience was new to all of us and exciting, if a little nerve wracking. More than once I had to control The Newby and remind him crop circling would not be a good idea, while The Piper recited parts of Cars, quoting ‘Mater and his shenanigans in the fields. Finally we rolled into Carnamah and enjoyed a yummy lamb burger and an evening of toasting our success with the camper and the wildflowers, downing a drop of the bubbly stuff from plastic glasses.
In the morning we planned an uneventful getaway but it wasn’t to be. Unfortunately The Piper was attacked and bitten by a dog as he was riding his bike just outside the caravan park. This put a dent in the day, before it started. But as always, The Piper bounced back and we drove of headed for the days adventures. Our first stop was the sleepy town of Coorow where we took a drive among the wheat inside the wildflower farm.

Our pre lunch stop was The Watheroo National Park to explore the Jingemia Cave. This is a great, accessible spot where we saw lizards, heaps more wildflowers and of course the cave (for a sense of the sheer scale, look for The Newby and The Piper in the picture). The scenery is good too, with an excellent view towards the west.

Although we never really got hungry on this trip we headed to Moora for some bread and toasted some sandwiches in the park. The Piper was nervous about being there because there were quite a few dogs around. I shooed him out only to hear wretched screams of “Mum! Mum!” all over again. This time he was under attack by the swooping magpie! In running back to the camper he put his hand up to defend his face and she took a nice piece out of his hand! The animals just had it in for him.
Full of lunch we decided to take the road less travelled home and head back inland to loop through Calingiri and Bolgart. We only just missed the loading of wheat onto the CBH train in Calingiri but we had a heap of fun tolling the bell in Bolgart. The Bolgart Bell Tower was built as a fun alternative to the Swan Bell Tower in Perth, a subject of great controversy. The tower used a windmill as it’s base with a moss rock covering and copper shingles from recycled water heater tanks above the bell, the bell and plaques were funded by donations.
The tower was officially opened on 21st November 1999 by the Premier of Western Australia , Richard Court. You are welcome to ring the bell!!

As always, the weekend went to fast and we were home in the early evening. We had a great first weekend in our new camper and can’t wait to do it all again next weekend …

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