Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back To See a Banksia

In the Stirling Range we set out to find wild flowers and although we were disappointed not to see masses of flowers the way we had seen them in other settings, we did manage to see a few flowers here and there.

The setting was much more open and the sun hot and thus the area seemed quite severe. We saw familiar plants, banksias and grevilleae, but nothing that really looked like the famous bellflowers of the region.

On our 13 km (roughtly 1/3 of the 43 of the prescribed the drive) we saw none of the orchids we sought, but it was still with great reluctance that we turned around and headed back to Mt. Barker. We really wanted to seethose orchids, but we had to turn around or we might not make it to the Banksia farm in time to see the banksias.

When we arrived at the Banksia farm (which (hooray!) I found relatively easily despite the fact that the town had been re-routed a bit with all its cement curbing (making one feel like one was stuck in a tube and could not escape)), we discovered that a Japanese tour had not only taken over the Cafe where we had hoped to eat, but also booked the only guided tour for the time we would be there. Thus although we had intended to go for the fancy-schmancy, super-duper tour, we ended up taking the el cheapo version of self-guided tour, because there was no one available to inform us.

I did the best I could in being Ersatz Tour leader after we had a basic intro by a friend of Kevin's who helped out when they were busy. After loooking at the seed pods and being reminded of propagation and the many different appearances of the flowers, leaves and seeds, we headed out to the garden. Once again I was low on film, so I could not go wild taking pictures, but the vista from the back porch is so lovely that I had to snap it. Here you see the red algae of the pond and the Stirling mountains in the back ground

This is the honey banksia that produces the sweet nectar.

Midway through we were so tired and hungry that we went back to the cafe for lasagna or quiche and carrot cake. The Japanese were well into the middle of their tour, so we sat alone and talked, and watched a hawk making lazy circles... oh, OK, (lahoma?)... it was really a black shouldered Kite, but it was interesting to watch as it looked for rodents in the field.

We spent a long time trying to find this banksia that sends up shoots from underground...

And I think this is the old man banksia that starts of whiskery soft and gets stiffer and less cuddly as it gets older. Hmmm...

The honey eaters were loud and bustling and really enjoyed this bird bath as water source. There are two on the bird bath in this picture although they are very hard to see.

We had to drive through the whole place a second time because we wanted to check out the rare blue (silver) banksia behind the gate.

Amazingly that was our last tourist stop of the trip.

The remainder of the evening was spent getting home. We were pleased to get to see some of the landscape on the way home, but all too soon it got dark and we were tense from kangaroo patrol. The most horrible thing about the trip home was that not once, but twice birds flew straight into the car and died what I imagine to be grizzly, mangled, deaths. The first time I actually had to get out and remove the corpse form the radiator. This was so terribly distressing to me that I could not even bear to look and see what kind of bird it was that I had hit. Later a second bird kamikazed into the car. Both times I was travelling much slower than the speed limit and had no control of the situation. It ws an ineffably awful experience. As we got closer to Fremantle it was dark but we could see parts of Dryandra and Arluen(?) forests and we knew we wanted to come back and see them in the light. The way home was hopelessly complicated and we bobbed and turned and the last 20 kilometers seemed to take as long as the first 300. Fremantle is clearly a plce to leave, but not to return to.

We got home, unloaded the car and collapsed! it had been a long wonderful trip, but we were very glad to be back to our own beds, the washing machine and 100+ channel cable TV.


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