Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, January 29, 2009

With my head in the flowers (and the clouds)

This afternoon, I left sunny Robertson (yes, it has been consistently sunny here, for two days, but not too hot fortunately) and I drove the 8 Kms to Knights Hill to visit the "Illawarra Fly" treetop walk. I was anticipating lovely clear views out over the Illawarra coast and Wollongong.

As soon as I got to the Pie Shop Corner, at the head of the Jamberoo Mountain Road, I knew my luck was out. I could see there was a band of cloud forming around the escarpment peak, at Knights Hill. Oh well, previous experience told me that the views from the Illawarra Fly are always interesting, evening in cloud.

Here is the tower, looking a bit cool against the cloud. There was a group of young kids running around excitedly, way up there. As they climbed down, they counted the steps - out loud, so I didn't have to climb up there to find out there are 106 steps to the top. According to the website, the "Knights Tower" is 45 metres above the forest floor. Of course, the other photos are taken from the platform level, which averages 25 metres above the forest floor. So the tower is well above the canopy.

I love seeing the trees from within the canopy. It gives one a very different perspective - a true bird's eye view. One normally can barely see the flowers in these tall Eucalypts.

I was taken with the shedding bark on the top branches of these Gully Gums (Eucalyptus smithii) It seems this habit of shedding of the upper branches in long ribbons is diagnostic of the species. Click to enlarge this next image. I love the subtle creams and olive colours in the bark.
Here is a view out over Yellow Rock, and the ridge between Albion Park (on the left) and Jamberoo (out of sight to the right). As you can see we were in the clouds, but it was sunny out beyond.

A zoomed image of the rocky outcrop of the Illawarra Escarpment. This is taken from the end of the cantilevered section which protrudes out towards the escarpment edge, on the eastern end. It can be a bit exciting, if there is a wind blowing, or if you have a group of school kids bouncing
around on it. But the engineering specifications state that the cantilevered sections can hold
"a maximum weight of 28 tonne or 800 wombats!!" Their words, not mine. I love it when a sense of humour emerges through the boring stuff normally found on an official website! The young growth tips of the Gully Gums were glowing in the afternoon light.
Here is a Cabbage Tree Palm crown, at eye height. Lovely things these ancient Palms.
Here are some lovely Tree Ferns growing in a wet gully, as seen from above.

Every time I visit the Illawarra Fly, I find I have really enjoyed the experience. And speaking with the workers there, this afternoon, it seems they are a happy bunch of people, too. That's nice to know. I think that speaks well of Sean, the manager of the Illawarra Fly.


Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Nice looking spot. Always delights me when I hear of landscapes/habitats being well looked after. I get so despondent when I look about and see how we have 'buggered' so much of this fascinating land of ours - eg The Gippsland Lakes, I'm ashamed to say.

Tyto Tony said...

Nice to get out and above it all. Particularly liked shot of Gully Gums.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae and Tony
Thanks, guys.
In fact this site has been beautifully tucked into the forest, with minimal disturbance. There is a large office/cafe area, but that is sited out in the open 350 metres from the escarpment edge.
Tony, the light on the new tips of the Gully Gums was my favourite bit too. Although I love the sensation of looking down onto the tops of Tree Ferns too.

Duncan said...

Denis, it's a long time since I've seen a photo as good as the one of the Gully Gum branches. Congratulations.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Duncan
High praise indeed, from someone who has been known to turn out good photos yourself. Much appreciated.
I kept the original at full res. to use for a possible poster-sized print, as a matter of fact.
As I was looking at the branches I was reminded of images I have seen of alpine Snow Gums with interesting bark and branch configurations. I'm delighted you liked it as much as I did.

mick said...

Lovely scenery from that tree-top tower and great photos of it all.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick
It is a great feature, in a terrific location - right on the escarpment. You can hardly see it in the photos, but it looks north, up the Illawarra coast, all the way past Wollongong.