Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Grotto - a miraculous place.

The Grotto
We are NOT talking about a "Miraculous" site here, (like Lourdes, or the Shwedagon Pagoda (in Myanmar) or any of the numerous European "Spas" (baths) which also claim to be "miraculous places".
No, this is a lovely place, in the Australian bush, just a bit out of the way, less than 5 Km from Robertson, on Barrrengarry Creek, above Belmore Falls. It is quiet, and fairly private.

Unfortunately, like many quiet bush places, this place has been used by car thieves for stripping, dumping and burning car bodies. There are three car bodies which I know of along the road down to this place. The shame of Robertson, (and of Australian society).
Wider view of the Grotto
This place is formed because of the inconsistent nature of the Sandstone rock. Certain sections of rock are harder than the main bed of rock, and this means that, as the creek erodes away the normal, relatively soft rock, the harder sections remain, forming "rock shelves" or "ledges". And the river crashes over the ledge, in a mini-waterfall, like this.

It is only about a 3 metre drop (at most), but in summer, it is an exquisite experience to stand under the crashing waterfall. There is a slight cavern formed behind the wall of water.
Of course, the oxygenation which occurs in places like this is terribly important to the natural cleansing process of the run of a river.
It is also a wonderful place for a picnic, on a hot Summer afternoon.
Many plants, and ferns and moss thrive under these totally wet overhangs. The main plant, which is visible in these photos, poking out under the running water, and clinging to the moss-covered rock walls, is the so-called "Rainforest Spinach" (Elatostema reticulatum). This is an absolutely typical habitat for that species. It is really a river specialist, one might describe it as an aquatic plant which grows on rocks.
Bird's Nest Fungus - (Cyathus sp.)
with two unopened fungi,
like pink nipples

These tiny cups are another of Natures Wonders. The perfectly formed "cups" (at left) start out closed. They open to reveal small "stones" (peridioles) inside (see below). These fungi apparently rely upon rainfall bounce out of the little "stones" from the little "nest". Then the "stones" open, releasing their spores.
I kid you not. That is how these things have evolved, to spread their spores, and thus perpetuate themselves.
At first I assumed that the two two pinkinsh "nipple-shaped" cones at right were unopened versions of the Birds Nest Fungi, but I realise now that they have stems, which the Birds Nest Fungi do not have, so they must be entirely different fungi, growing with the Birds Nests. They are probably small "parasol" shaped fungi, just not yet open.

Not a wicker basket!
The tiny cups are smaller than thimbles, but as you can see from the single cup, at left, they resemble wicker baskets. But they are completely natural, composed of fibres produced by the underground oganism of which these are the fruiting body.

Yet another "miracle" for me to contemplate, and "wonder" at.

1 comment:

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

I am a fan of birds nest fungi. I have, so far, found three species, two of which I have only tentatively identified. I've found two species on cow dung in a grazing paddock in the Hunter Valley (NSW) and one on dead wood in New England NP (northern NSW).

None of the species I have seen have the grooved interior surface like yours exhibits.

It's a beauty!