Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, October 19, 2007

Manning Lookout and Kangaroo Valley

I went with Jim to inspect some "steps" which a mutual friend, Wayne had told Jim about, out near Fitzroy Falls. It turns out these steps appear to be part of a pathway leading from Manning Lookout, overlooking the Upper Kangaroo Valley. What surprised me is that while "Manning Lookout" is maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, they only maintain the area around one main lookout point. There has been a very old track, complete with fitted sandstone steps in difficult areas, where steps are appropriate. The amount of work which went into forming these steps is impressive.

The steps lead down to a grotto and creek, with an interesting patch of damp rainforest (Coachwoods, Callicoma and Eucryphia).Further out along the narrow track, there is a spectacular clifftop, still with a railed off lookout point, even though one suspects that this track is no longer being maintained by NPWS. (Confirmed by notes below, from NPWS).

To my delight there was a group of the Yellow Rock Orchid Cestichis reflexa (formerly Liparis reflexa) growing there, in a small rock hole, right below the very top of the cliff. Unusually for this species, which favours damp rock crevices close to water, this position was quite dry, but it was at least south-facing, overlooking Kangaroo Valley, with rainforest immediately below the cliff, so it was protected from full exposure to sun and drying winds. These plants have no eyes, but if they did, they could appreciate the fantastic views available form their rocky perch (about which I wrote previously).
In this zoomed photo, you can just make out old flower sprays, with seed capsules formed. So, this plant has successfully flowered and set seed this recent Spring season. While we were walking close to these cliffs we saw a number of plants of another Rock Orchid, Dockrillia striolata, a very small plant, with single flowers. (Dockrillia striolata "in situ" and close-up of flower). Photos taken at Knight's Hill, in similar clifftop situations to Manning's Lookout.)
Dockrillia striolata - flower
While we were exploring these cliff-top locations we were "buzzed" by a Female Peregrine Falcon, (Falco peregrinus) clearly demonstrating proprietorial rights - so presumably she is nesting somewhere along the clifflines in the area. She zoomed past us, at eye height (on the cliff top edge), and then circled back through the forest behind us, calling excitedly, several times. These birds are cliff dwellers, and are totally at home here, being such skillful and powerful fliers, and lovers of updrafts.

Along the road into Manning Lookout there is a species of Prostanthera growing which I have only seen here (not elsewhere). From what I can work out it is likely to be P. incana, which is generally regarded as a coastal species, according to PlantNET. It is growing in a damp area (surrounded by Sword Grass) on black sandy soil, over sandstone, right beside the road. It is not growing in the more typical sandstone scrub at Manning Lookout, 500 metres further on, where the habitat is very dry. So, it appears to prefer the heavier, moister soil close to a "soak" which leads to a creek.That plant has very hairy leaves, which are "heavily crimped", with heavy veining, deeply incised. The flower colour is accurately reproduced in this photo, and it is more blue than many of the mauve-purple Prostanthera species. The plant was about 1.2 metres high, but wider than high.

Jim wanted to go down to Kangaroo Valley, to check out a potential landing strip, so we went down the Barrengarry mountain, into Kangaroo Valley and then along the Upper Kangaroo Valley Road. Along the bottom of the valley, there are tall stands of River Sheoaks (Casuarina cunninghamiana) growing. These plants had many really prominent clumps of Epiphytic Orchids flowering along their stems, some as low as 3 metres off the ground, others higher in the trees. I was amazed to see these flowers dotted all over the branches of trees right along this section of the Kangaroo River. Presumably they are regarded as common, but I had not ever seen them before. From the thick, ribbed leaves, it is clearly Dockrillia linguiformis - known as the Tongue Orchid. Some people refer to this plant as Dendrobium linguiforme, but apparently that name is regarded as obsolete by most Orchid authorities.
*****
Postscript:
The NPWS website includes the Plan of Management for Morton National Park (October 2001). In relation to Manning Lookout, this document states:

"Manning Lookout is a quiet area providing 3 lookouts into Kangaroo Valley and a long
walking track along the escarpment through attractive forest. The two northerly lookouts
and the associated walking track are not signposted and receive only low levels of use.

"The area is of historical interest as its use for recreation dates from the 19th century.
Old picnic facilities near the first lookout have been refurbished in recognition of their
cultural value. There are safety concerns with use of the area and investigation will be undertaken into the stability of the first lookout, and the feasibility of removing the two northern lookouts but retaining the track for experienced walkers. Upgrading is needed of the first lookout and track section." (My emphasis added.)

Source: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/PDFs/pom_final_morton_budawang.pdf.

1 comment:

Miss Eagle said...

Denis, what can I say about the photographs: gorgeous, luscious, interesting and, perhaps, unique.

Blessings and bliss