Monday, November 16, 2009

Plant Lovers Find Girraween A Must

October Outing: Whilst geologists see granite boulders, originating from the molten mass of magma from about 240 million years ago, the plant lovers find Girraween a ‘must’ for the myriads of spring flowers. The Park landscape is dominated by large granite domes, such as the Pyramids, Mount Norman and Castle Rock, and the gigantic balancing rocks which formed as a result of erosion of slabs of granite, over the ages. For those who have climbed to the top of the Pyramid, there are several of those boulders from an upper slab of rock sitting on the surface of the dome. Eventually, the boulders become unstable and roll off, or disintegrate into smaller boulders. I think we are talking millions of years, so no immediate danger! The ultimate result of weathering of these granite rocks is the coarse sandy soil of limited fertility, but so loved by Australian flora. Indeed, Girraween means ‘place of flowers’.

Nats on The Junction track.

Lesley led the dozen or so Field Nats along the five kilometre Junction Track, bird-watchers in front and plant lovers bringing up the rear. According to our guide book, ‘The Flora of Girraween and Bald Rock National Parks’, heath and scrub communities are associated with massive granite outcrops. Scattered low trees (such as Black Cypress Pine, Callitris endlicheri) are also a feature. However, it is the hard-leaved species which dominate the heath. Wild flower sightings vary with the time of year and confirmation of earlier flowerings was the dried cones of the banksias (Banksia spinulosa, Banksia integrifolia) and the dried remains of the flannel flowers (Actinotus helianthi) and one lone purple flower on a hovea (Hovea graniticola). Flowering in abund-ance, however, at the start of the track, was the pale pink heath myrtle (Calytrix tetragona). Patches of wild purple iris stood out in the green scrub but more outstanding was the patch of pink Boronia (Boronia amabilis).

Some of us decided that the end of the Junction Track was a little before the junction of the two streams so we sat and watched the sundews (Drosera burmannii), catching the mid-day sun, and the birds in the nearby trees. That was our excuse anyway. Thanks to Lesley and Trish for coming up with the idea of a walk in one of our best local national parks. And thanks to the Turquoise Parrots which sat on the junction path long enough for many of the groups to stand in amazement at such a beautiful bird. Alas, our expert cameraman was too far behind… Linda M.

Rosy Sundew Drosera hamiltonii

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