Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis
Showing posts with label Bushwalks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bushwalks. Show all posts

Monday, January 16, 2012

A walk (climb) down to Fairy Bower

Regular readers will recall that I had a Hip Replacement Operation on 1 December 2011 (I am indebted to Greg for pointing out that I originally wrote 2012) Silly me - the Hip was not installed by Dr Who!

Yesterday I celebrated by walking 1.2 Km (horizontal distance) and 180 metres vertically (altitude) to go 600 metres from the Fairy Bower car park to the top of the Falls, and a further 600 metres, to negotiate the seriously steep access track to the bottom of the Fairy Bower falls. This is part of the Morton National Park, accessed via Bundanoon, NSW. 

Of course, I had to do this both down and up (the distances and height of the climb therefore has to be doubled). My hip came through fine (remarkably well, in fact) but my thigh muscles are sore from the unfamiliar exertion. But rest and good a soak in an Epsom Salts bath will help ease that.

There were two well placed chairs on the way up. I was not too proud to take a "Nanna rest". I needed it, and was glad that NPWS had bothered to position these seats in strategic rest points.

If you have "Google Earth", try opening this "Placemark" link to Fairy Bower Falls, Morton National Park, Bundanoon, NSW.

My trusty walking stick proved invaluable, especially on the old, steep and slippery old cut rock steps.
I am often amazed at the human effort which is evident in these tracks and steps being sometimes cut into the rock faces, and in other cases, cut rocks being positioned as steps sitting in place, often dug into sandy soil, or deep leaf litter, on 45 degree slopes. No photos of these were taken, as I was too tired and too busy hanging on, as I stepped carefully down or climbed back up.

The more modern style of pressed metal platforms, are wonderful, but presumably they are massively expensive, as sometimes they must be lifted into place by helicopters. All credit to the engineers of the NPWS and to the pilots, for that work.

While there is a track which take you to the bottom, there is no way I was going that far.
Bottom of the falls will do thanks.
View across the Bundanoon Creek valley (and a glimpse of the ravine at the bottom)

Looking up to Fairy Bower Falls - top section.
Fairy Bower Falls - lower section
On the way back up to the top I decided to take a few images (to give me a reason to rest), and to enjoy the beauty of the Fairy Bower walk.

One of the metal walkways below a sheer rock wall.
 From one of the steel walkways I was able to get this view up a wall of rock, covered with these amazing orange crustose lichens. I have seen them before, but never as fine a display as this. The site was a sheltered angle of the rock face, seldom in full sunlight. And obviously, it is in a moist gully, with high rainfall.
Wonderful red crustose lichens on sheltered side of sandstone rocks

Female Lyrebird seen track near the Fairy Bower car park

Cropped view of female Lyrebird.

A wonderful rock beside the Fairy Bower track back to the carpark
My friend and fellow Orchid enthusiast Alan Stephenson was with myself and some others on the trek to the bottom of the Fairy Bower Falls. Alan has shared with me several photos which I meant to take - but was too nervous (on the way down), and too tired on the way back up.

Above the Fairy Bower Falls, the track takes you over the tiny creek. Obviously there is a local tradition of making tiny little "water wheels" using sticks and stiff leaves. These have been positioned into little groves cut in the rock, in a "water race" which has apparently also been cut into the rock, to provide a steadily flowing stream of water, even at times of low flow in the creek. It works just fine.

I was really captured by the thought that this is a local tradition to manufacture these little "engines" (as "toys"). They are doing no "work", other than spinning round, to amuse us. But what a simple demonstration of how a water wheel can work.
Three natural "water wheels" made with sticks and leaves.

You can see the grooves where more of these "toys" have been placed before.
Alan, being Alan, also sent me a few images of Chiloglottis seminuda which he found on part of the walk which I bailed out from doing. A nice specimen too, although I am surprised that it was growing in such a wet forest.
Chiloglottis seminuda - photo courtesy of Alan Stephenson
I am hardly going to claim to be a "bushwalker", but I have been bragging about this walk all day. No only was the "achievement" very satisfying, the location was great, and a wonderful bit of wet forest under the falls, and nice sandstone forest above.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A trip to Mannings Lookout

Today I went to Manning's Lookout (near Fitzroy Falls) with Jim, Ian and Len. Jim has been after me for some time to do an exploratory walk for a proposed National Parks Association (NPA) walk.

I had been sent an extract of a bush-walking guide which described the walk. I had previously explored the central part of this walk, with Jim and Wayne. Also, I am familiar with the closer-in parts of the track, so today we were trying to "join the dots" between the familiar sections of the track.

Firstly we went down to my favourite viewing place, near "Rhinoceros Rock". This particular view does not appear to be well known - but I love it. Kangaroo Valley is in the distance, below the cliff top rock. I know the name is not "local" but I cannot think of an Australian animal which this rock resembles. So, please forgive my clumsy name for this rock. My helpful colleagues offered to take my photo if I would pose over there, sitting in the hollow just behind the "horn" of the Rhinoceros. Thanks guys! In fact it is accessible, but there is no way I would ever indulge that fantasy.

We saw a female Peregrine Falcon circle a couple of times, to check out what we were doing in her area. Obviously she decided we posed no threat, and went off about her business. She was a powerfully built bird. Peregrines love cliff lines, for they offer protected nesting sites; and also cliffs give them great vantage points for checking out their prey. Also the winds created by cliffs assist the young birds, when learning to fly.

We then went to the main lookout point, and then on to the next lookout, where I have been before. Then we set off into "unknown" territory (for me). The track is fairly clearly defined, but it goes through dense Banksia scrub, and then large patches of coral fern, which always grows fast and tends to close over tracks, making it easy to miss the track.

The next feature of this track which we came to is "Bridal Veil Falls" - that name is not mine, but is the one applied in the bush-walking guide I mentioned. A small creek drops over a clean drop of about 30 metres, hits a large wide rock and drops another 5 metres, before returning to a normal creek flow. This area is very cool, being in a deep gully, and surrounded by rainforest trees.
Going down into this deep gully there is a series of remarkably well constructed rock steps. The mosses have colonised the steps (and the original rocks), creating this lovely view. We wondered at the time and effort which went into creating this track, and when that might have happened? From some of the materials used at various lookout points, we guessed that the track was originally constructed back in the 1920s - but I stress that is only a guess.
We went further out, towards what the guide refers to as the "lost lookout".

We had lunch together on some convenient rocks, along the path. No sooner had the four of us settled down than the Leeches arrived. Well, clearly the Leeches had been there all along, and it was US who had arrived. This caused us to wonder, was this "chance", or would there have been so many Leeches at any other point along the track? ALSO what do these Leeches survive on when there are no bushwalkers? We saw plenty of signs of Wombats, but no other marsupials. This guy was waving its head around, deciding where to go next, then getting a new grip point, then "looping" its way along my leg. Nice red and yellow stripes on the thick end.

The question arose - which end does the Leech suck with? Clearly it has to be the head, but which end is the head? The issue arises from the fact that leech has two "suckers" (one on each end) with which it can adhere to you (well, my leg, to be precise). Leeches have a "sucker" on each end, but they feed from the head end ONLY.

The thin end of the leech is in fact its head, and that is where its mouth is located. But the confusion about which end the Leech "sucks with" arises because of the fact that they adhere very firmly with the thick end, and hold the head in place with the smaller sucker (on the head end), and that is where their jaws are located. Once the Leech arrives at an appropriate place to feed, it uses its small (head) sucker to stick to your skin, then it uses its jaws to cut into your skin. While it is feeding, it uses the strong sucker on its rear end, to keep itself firmly attached to you. The Australian Museum (in Sydney) has an excellent on-line Fact Sheet about Leeches.

I tried to brush this fellow off, and I could not, because it was using its rear (larger) sucker to stay stuck onto my trousers. Eventually we touched the leech with a stick of insect repellent, and instantly the leech let go, and I was then able to brush it off my leg. Fortunately I had sprayed my socks with insect repellent, and the tracksuit trousers were made of very fine material, which the Leech was unable to penetrate, so I survived intact.

Somewhere along the track we were joined by 3 members of the "Tuesday Walkers" group from Bowral. So it is good to see other people using this interesting track.

While we were out on the track a fog rose up from Kangaroo Valley (below the cliffs). It was not a thick fog, but it serves as a reminder that fogs can appear suddenly, in the Southern Highlands, and that there is always a risk of getting lost if you cannot see where you are going. And it is harder to orient oneself (by the sun) when there is dense fog.

However, the fog did give me this interesting "silhouette" effect because the background view was obscured. So it made this particular rock face even more dramatic than normal.
On the way back we came to a point where we could see the Bridal Veil Falls from along a rock ledge, which served to frame the view nicely. Len suggested that I take this photo, and I was happy to oblige him. It was a particularly nice view of the falls.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Nature of Jim's Red Boxing-glove Lichens

When bushwalking with Jim, recently I found a clump of tiny lichens with brilliant red fruiting bodies. I nick-named these lichens as Jim's "Red Boxing-glove Lichens". These tiny Lichens are a maximum of 1 cm high.
(Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Lichens are complex organisms. They are not plants, but are fungi,
living in a symbiotic relationship with either an alga or a cyanobacteria (depending on the type of lichen).

If you wish to see more photos of the world of Cryptogams (mosses, liverworts, hornworts and lichens) visit this link .

Some of the photography is stunning, and this is a world which few of us ever get to see in detail. This is part of the Australian National Botanic Gardens website - one of my favourite websites.

Quoting from the ANBG page on Cryptogams: "The non-fungal partner (or photobiont) contains chlorophyll and produces its own food. The fungus provides structural support and a fairly stable microenvironment for the non-fungal partner. Most lichens derive their shape from the fungal partner with the non-fungal cells often confined to a single layer just below the exposed surface of the lichen. The lichens also vary greatly in size, from tiny species to long, trailing species." (Cryptogams - panel 3)

My little red boxing glove Lichens, are seemingly close to the purple-topped species illustrated towards the bottom of page 9 of the Cryptogams site (scroll down the page).

So I (over-confidently) proclaim my specimens also to be in the "Metus" genus of lichens. (How would I really know?)

But I still think of them as Jim's Red Boxing-Glove Lichens.


These are just some of the joys of going bushwalking in the local (Robertson) area. If you are interested to learn more about bushwalking - contact me, directly, ( or check out the National Parks Association's Program of scheduled bushwalks for July and August 2006.
This Program covers bushwalks for all of NSW, but it includes walks in the Southern Highlands, and the Illawarra.