Nature walk

29 04 2007

We live in an area filled with beautiful native forests, hills, valleys, and some of the most unique flora and fauna on this planet. It was a gorgeous day yesterday so I dragged my reluctant other half to an area some 25 km away called Karri Gully (locals: off the Brockman Highway between Bridgetown and Nannup, adjacent to the Bibbulmun Track).

Karri Gully is the start of the magnificent karri forests of the southwest of Western Australia (that’s a karri tree in this photo; see more pics on pages 10 and 11 of this photo album), and has some massive trees.

Karri trees

Karri tree

There’s a 20 minute walking trail that loops through this bit of karri forest (which also has marri and jarrah as far as I could tell) so we walked on that until we came to the intersection with the Bibbulmun Track. We decided to take the south branch of the Bibbulmun back to the highway, then walked back to the car at the Karri Gully picnic area.

For those of you who are unaware of the Bibbulmun, it is a 900–1000 km walking trail that starts near Perth and meanders through the forests of the southwest to Albany on the south coast. Like the US Appalachian Trail, some people have walked the whole trail, but most people only do small sections. There are huts along the way for those camping out overnight, and, as far as I know, the entire trail goes through state and national forests and parks, crossing roads and farms only as necessary. (More information on the Bibbulmun Track’s website and on Wikipedia.)

One of the highlights of our short walk (under an hour I’d guess), was seeing some red-tailed black cockatoos coming in to perch on a high tree branch. These are an endangered species, and we were fortunate to hear them call, and see the red tail feathers as they fanned their tails when coming in to land. Some of the conservation groups have sighting reports you can submit, so I found one on the internet when we came home, filled it in, and posted it off.

After the walk, we headed back to Bridgetown, taking a detour to loop along Maranup Ford Rd to Greenbushes. Along Maranup Ford Rd we saw the strangest thing – a real National Geographic moment! (if only the camera’s memory card hadn’t been full…). We were driving through the rolling hills of some farms and saw a full grown and very healthy fox close to a wedge-tailed eagle in a paddock near the road. When we stopped, the fox looked at us for a bit then went up over the hill. Meantime, a magpie started to dive-bomb the eagle, which must have been 20 times its size! That was followed by two more magpies joining in until the eagle flew off. We couldn’t see what it was that had attracted the fox and the eagle (possibly a dead lamb or rabbit?), but our presence and the territorial magpies saw both the fox and the eagle run or fly away. Magic!

Greenbushes is a little tiny town that has lived and died on its mine – initially tin, more recently tantalum. We drove through it (which takes about 1 minute!), then took Spring Gully Rd out to Norilup Dam about 4kms out of town. By the colour of it, I think it is an old disused tin mine site as the water was quite green. Quite a pretty spot and well off the beaten track. Then it was back to Bridgetown.

As autumn starts to set in, it’s obvious that the recent rains and the cooler weather are having an effect – the hills around the towns were all starting to ‘green up’ with new shoots, and the European trees were all changing colour and shedding their leaves.