Monday, 6 July 2009

Topi trip 6.1 and 6.2

MUNGO BRUSH, SUGAR Creek and TALLOWWOOD

This is really two bits, but since, due to the way Blogger posts items (and my forgetting the second when intially composing this) the second would appear before part 1 I have decided to combine them.

Brush(ed off) and Sugar Creek


The target on the Friday was to go to Mungo Brush to check out the rain forest. Unfortunately when we got to the crossing of the narrow stretch of water the ferry was not operating. Looking at the waves in the channel, this seemed like a reasonable proposition, but why didn't they say this on a sign at the Highway, rather than at the end of an 11km road? When I asked this question of the lady at the resort which ran the ferry she said that it had only closed, on the orders of the Parks people, about 5 minutes earlier. Grrr...

So we decided to refocus our attentions on the Sugar Creek Flora Reserve. On the way back we swung by 'The Grandis' which is the tallest (or one of the tallest, depending on which brochure/signboard you read) tree in New South Wales. It is a specimen of Eucalyptus grandis or Flooded Gum and was indeed quite impressive. Another large item seen here was the 2m ex-snake across the road: as this was just outside the Park boundary Frances was inclined in the souvenir direction. On a little closer inspection, the maggots on it changed her decision.

We then headed off to Sugar Creek Flora Reserve in another National Park (Wallingat). The reference to it being a Flora Reserve reflected its history when it was a reserved area within the State Forest: this designation did not in fact protect it at all. Fortunately that has changed as it is a spectacular area of rain forest vegetation mainly Fan Palms and E. grandis. There were a lot of epiphytes including ferns and arboreal orchids (not in flower) as well as the trees themselves. Some birds were heard but not seen, despite me going off into the forest looking for them (hint for the inexperienced: this is a very effective way of adding to your leech collection ? see entry under Topi Gums above).

As we swung out of the picnic area after a lunch break, Jean in the back seat called out that she had seen flowering orchids. Much braking ensued. These were Pterostylis nutans, and rather spectacular examples of greenhoods: however they were basically green, growing on an earth bank and about 10cm high so how the heck she spotted them as we drove along I do not know! Several minutes were spent taking photographs and enjoying the plants.

As our guests hadn't seen any whales we swung out to Seal Rocks to see if any cetaceans were enjoying the choppy conditions. No spouting was seen although Frances did see some dolphins. The wind was very strong at the lighthouse and if anyone (I suspect readers from Auckland or Valparaiso have the best chance at this) finds my NY Marathon cap, please return it.

Brushed on and Tallowwood Forest Park

On our last day I rang the providers of the ferry service and established that it was running. So off we went, aiming to catch the 10am service. A few kms from the ferry a small sports car (or at least the driver of same) was having trouble with the dirt road ? sitting on 40kph. I could see this might cause missing the ferry so honked past. In fact they made it on time.

After a very uneventful crossing ? this may not have been the case on Friday ? we rolled down the road to Mungo Brush. The business here was to do the Rainforest walk and add Regent Bowerbird to my life list. The male of this species is particularly lurid gold and black. So we did the 1.7km walk and saw a few birds but none of the target species. Drat (or words to that effect).
We then sat down and had a nice lunch during which Frances spotted a Blue-faced Honeyeater in one of the nearby trees. An addition to the year list as well as the trip list.

Leaving her to do artistic things in the campground I went back into the forest to (ab)use my M3 player and see if I could dig up the Bowerbird: an hour was allocated to this. Frances had asked about the level in the vego we were likely to see this bird and I had advised ?on the ground?. Thus when I looked at a largish bird 5m up munching on bugs on a Banksia cone I was very surprised to find a Bowerbird filling up my bins. A quick confirmation from the field guide and "Yahoo" was applicable. I think that makes my 1ife list 1598.

On getting back to the table where I had left Frances she was quite excited about a bird she had seen. On checking the field guide she nominated an Azure Kingfisher! That gets added to the trip list (a joint enterprise) but not my year list as the bird had buggered off by the time I got there.

We did a stroll along the Tamboy walk and were interested in the difference between the rainforest vegetation at the Eastern end of the camp and the Melaleuca swamp forest at the Western end. We decided that a quick foray to the beach would still let us nail the 2pm ferry. When we got there the track to the beach was taped off because of aerial herbicide spraying (penalties apply). I decided that
* they wouldn't be flying on a Sunday; and
* it was 1,000,000 : 1 that a Ranger would be along to berate us anyway.
I should pay attention when reading Terry Pratchett books as he is sure that million to one shots always come off. In fairness the ranger was just ripping off the tape as they'd finished the spraying ? and done a good job on the Bitou Bush ? so gave us no grief whatever.

Back across the ferry and up into the hills to find the Tallowwood Forest Park, which promised very tall trees etc. To check the way out of town I called into the information centre and was told how to get there and that Forests had removed all the infrastructure and it was totally overgrown (and the road was very rough). Anyway off we went. It turned out to be quite a trip with a highlight being a superb Lyrebird galloping across the road. The road was a bit average, and although we were able to work out where the park used to be, it was no longer visible. There were some really nice trees/ferns /palms etc so probably worth the 40km round trip.

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