Kiama, part 4.

Hi there,

In part 4 of Kiama which will wrap up this trip, i will focus on some of the surrounding areas of Kiama that interface with the sea.  In non jargon language we would call it the Coastline.  We have seen some already and on any given day the sea can be calm or ferocious, which may or may not change our perception of the coastline.

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Look at the photo above, the rockpools are nice and calm whereas at the top right hand side of the photo the ocean is pounding into the coastline.  What if we change the sky to dark storm clouds?  Does that change our perception of the coastline?  Does it suddenly become threatening?  Maybe, maybe not.  One can find beauty in nature in any circumstance i would think.  One thing is for sure, it’s the ferocious ocean that sculpts the coastline.

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Look at the power of the ocean above which slams into some rocks and creates that huge spray.  Majestic and frightening all at the same time.

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Here it is nice and calm and barely a ripple in the ocean.

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I like this photo, it shows the interplay between rock, sand and ocean.  Sand that once was rock worn down by the ocean over centuries.

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Here’s a picture of some rough sea, angry at the wind pulling at it.

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Just the obligatory seagull surveying the sea, nothing more!

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Some interesting formations above created by the endless cycle of tides.

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It would be interesting to know if the first Western Explorers who saw these interesting block formations a couple of hundred years ago would notice anything different today.  I somehow think not, there may be one or two changes in size in some of these blocks.  One may have to go back 10’s of thousands of years to see any real difference.  I’m not a geologist, only surmising!

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The ravenous sea wanting to swallow you up!

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The thing about Kiama is there’s some lovely coastline, rugged and dangerous looking, some lovely beaches looking cool calm and collected, some lovely rock pools that can be a whole lot of fun.  A bit of everything to suit everyone.

Until next time.

Cheers!

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Kiama, Part 3.

Budderoo National Park – Minnamurra Rainforest

Hi There,

Following on from previous posts from Kiama, the Budderoo National Park is not far from Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales.  It’s a beautiful place with waterfalls and lookouts and a rainforest to boot as well.

Rainfall here approaches the 2 metre mark per annum, that’s 2000mm.  In other words a lot of rain and its evident here in the lush landscape of ferns, vines, rainforest trees and more ferns.  Ferns growing on ferns, on rocks, on trees, on everything in fact.  A very different landscape.

Above is a typical scene in this rainforest, huge vines scrambling everywhere, strangling everything looking for sunlight.  A constant theme in any forest is the search for sunlight by plants.  Trees reaching for the sky seeking that elusive substance.

Asplenium australasicum or commonly referred to as Bird Nest Ferns were evident everywhere.

These are actually Epiphytes(plants that grow on other plants-but not parasites).  They have a lovely silky smooth glossy green leaf.  Quite a spectacular plant and readily available in most nurseries.

A few more in some trees below!

And some more for good measure!  This rock was incredible-countless ferns and mosses all over it!

Check out the rock below, it has ferns running over it by the look of it, amazing!  I think it is Arthropteris beckleri also known as Hairy Climbing Fishbone Fern.

One of the trees in this rainforest is the Jackwood(see picture below) or Native Laurel, which is also known as Cryptocarya glaucescens which grows to about 35 metres tall.  Click HERE for more info on this tree.

I just realised that you can’t see the top!  Not a great photo but gives you a sense of scale!  Another commonly grown plant in gardens is the Elkhorn which is an Epiphyte as well.  scientifically known as Platycerium bifurcatum.  The one below is quite a size!

Another great tree was the Strangler Fig, Ficus oblique , which is also known as the Small leaved Fig.  The leaves are the only thing on it that are small!

And again!

It was very hard to get all of this tree in the frame, what a monster!

Some nice buttress roots

I think we will progress to smaller things just to calm ourselves down a fraction.  Below is the Fragrant Fern, Microsorum scandens which is clambering over a boulder.  Looks quite lovely don’t you think?

Now for something out of the blue and a slightly different track we came across a very interesting bird which can be difficult to see in its native habitat.

The Superb Lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae .  Click HERE to find out more about this master of hiding and mimicry.  To hear its amazing vocal chords, click HERE.  I was quite chuffed to see this bird in the wild, a first for me.  One normally heres them if you can be sure of their birdsong but hardly sees them.

Not great photos, but in this case they will have to do.  Check out the amazing tail they have.  Below you can see the landscape and how green it is, a couple of patches of red reveal the Illawarra Flame Tree, Brachychiton acerifolius.  Click HERE for more info.  This was as close as I got to them.

Some more ferns, this could be Blechnum neohollandicum , Prickly Rasp Fern.

This may be the Sickle Fern, Pellaea falcata.

Some nice lacy effects from under a tree-fern

The one below is the Giant Maiden Hair , Adiantum formusum.

Heres another lovely side view of the Birds Nest Fern.

Some vines now to make it a little scary!

Look out!  You don’t want to stand still for too long Here!

Here are some roots of a strangler Fig and more vines!

Hmmmm.

A truly remarkable environment for adventitious plants.

Another remarkable tree here is the Australian Red Cedar, Toona ciliata var. australis.  This tree is now scarce as it was highly sought after by the early settlers and the early timber industry as the wood was highly sought after for its fine grain.  It has beautiful dusky pink-red trunks.

Very Majestic.

And another one.

This one below has some ferns growing on it.  I think they may be the Rock Felt Fern, Pyrrosia rupestris.

Ill finish our tour here with a couple of general shots in the Minnamurra Rainforest. Go and have a look at it if you ever get the chance!

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Until next time.

Cheers!

Kiama. part 2.

Budderoo National Park / Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk

Hi There,

During our holiday to Kiama last January, we spent a day at the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk, where one can fly through the tall trees and walk amongst the tree tops of the Budderoo National Park.

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Hard to see in the above photo but the ground is on a slope of somewhere between 50-70% and the trees are quite tall.  Lower right in this photo, one can make out a zip line.  Quite a contraption that holds platforms to these trees.  Each year Engineers measure how deep the clamps are and adjust as necessary to keep the platforms where they are and to not strangle any tree as well.

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Here we are walking across a rope bridge.  The course was a collection of these bridges and three zip lines.

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And again

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To give you and idea of the steep terrain, check out the photo below!

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Notice those two trees seem to be quite close to one another.  Look where there bases are, nearly under each other.  Heres a nice long zip line!

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This one let you reach quite a speed which was exhilarating, if you’re not scared of heights!

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Soft landing!

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After the course is completed you are able to wander around the tree tops and enjoy the views and the flora of course!

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A mighty specimen holding its head high!  Intricate patterns of fern leaves from above, see below.

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The tree top walkway!

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Not for the faint hearted!

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At a mid-point there was a tower you could climb for some stunning views over the valley and to the sea!

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unfortunately it was a little cloudy but yet  this made it quite mystical.  Sea in the distant.

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Some magical rock formations which sort of just drop straight down.

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If you are ever near Kiama, give this a go.  It’s a lot of fun!  Until next time.

Cheers!

 

Kiama

Hi There!

As its been a year, I thought I would look back to the start of last year where we went for a holiday to the seaside town of Kiama on the South Coast of New South Wales.  Quite a lovely spot with plenty to do and see.  Situated 120km south of Sydney this makes it an ideal spot for Sydneysiders to holiday here which we are not!  Most of the people we met were though.  It took us about 5 and a half hours to get there too.  The caravan park at Kiama East beach was really good with access directly onto the beach and plenty to do.

Beautiful clear water with nice waves, quite rough when the wind was up otherwise it was calm.

Sun has just set behind the hills to the rear of Kiama which lead to the escarpment up to the plains around Bowral and Moss Vale.  It’s quite a drop from Moss Vale through Knights Hill down to Kiama.  The Budderoo National Park is here to which is spectacular.  Here’s some nice rock pools at Kiama East Beach with the waves crashing in behind them!

A kid being buried alive on the beach.  Apparently he was rescued at a later date.

More kids contemplating the ocean.

Around Kiama there a couple of Blowholes.  A large one and a small one.  When we were there the small one was outpacing the large one by a country mile.  That’s a long way by the way!

Above we have some tourists waiting for the action and below we have the small blow-hole from a distance.

The coastline here is quite impressive and there’s a lovely walk along it in either direction from the caravan park.  Here a some photos of the sea crashing into the coastline.

There’s something therapeutic about watching the waves roll in If you are looking for a great summer holiday.  Kiama is the place to go!  Stay tuned for future posts from this part of the world.

Cheers!

A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 13.

The End Approaches.

Hi There!

You may have guessed from the last post or even from the heading above that our trip to the Northern Territory was drawing to a close.  In some ways it was good to think that we would be home soon because really deep down at the bottom of your hearts there is no place like ‘HOME’.  This old saying(if that’s what it is) is so true on so many levels it’s not funny!  In other ways it was sad to be leaving the Territory, this natural beating heart of Australia Its grandeur, its beauty, its harshness, its isolation, its story, its cultural significance and many more its.  We have only seen but a portion of it.

Our last day here dawned bright and clear albeit slightly chilly.  We were of to have a camel ride!  These animals having been introduced to Australia, certainly have taken a likening to the Outback and many thousands, roughly 300,000(2013 estimates after a cull which started in 2009, which estimated there to be 600,000 in 2009) roam the outback.  Apparently we are the only country in the world with feral herds of camels and the largest populations of them, seriously??

Here’s a few lined up ready to go on some long tours, we were only going to do the 20 minute version.

Old Tom’s waterhole, not sure who old Tom is.  You can see our rig in the car park all packed and ready to head south(home).

getting up close with our ride!  Here we go!

Time to head towards the Stuart Highway and start our 2,381 kilometre journey home!

Right it is!

A far too common sight on the side of the Stuart Highway.  Rolled and crashed vehicles, obviously too expensive to retrieve out here, wont be long and they will be scavenged and rusted away in this harsh landscape.  Another common sight is road trains, the lifeblood of the outback!  Click HERE for some interesting information on road trains.A couple more photos of these largish trucks!.

Not real great fun overtaking them either as you watch the individual trailers moving around!

We were heading for Marla, 5ookm away in South Australia, our first stop on the way home.  When we set up camp behind the Road House we realised there were seven of us instead of the usual six.  We had picked up a hitch hiker!

Poor little fellow, thought he might like a holiday, we caught him and placed him on the side of a tree at Marla much to the disgust of our youngest who thought we could take him home.

Next morning we continued south to Coober Pedy to have a look at this interesting place, click HERE to find out more about this bizarre place!  You know you are getting close when you come across these mounds.

There is some serious mining for Opals here, it is also known as the opal mining capital of the world with over 70 opal fields.  To me the unfortunate thing is it leaves the landscape looking like the above and below photo’s, interesting but quite ugly!

There are a lot of houses here that are mostly underground or partially underground to escape the searing heat experienced here.  You can see the ventilation shafts in the photo below.

Here’s a panoramic view from the lookout.

Another view.

Time to move on.  unfortunately we found Coober Pedy to be dirty, unappealing and creepy.  Not a glowing endorsement considering plenty of other people find it amazing.  I should also say that we didn’t do any of the underground mine tours or building tours, apparently these are quite good.  We can recommend the Coober Pedy Outback Bar and Grill, we had a really great lunch!  Time to hit the road again and get as far along as we could before it got dark.

Another road photo, not really exciting.  Lots of road to look at.

Last night on the side of the road,  plenty of firewood required for a nice warm fire!

Toasty feet.

It was a cold windy night.  We had one more night before we got home and we decided to book a house at a campground which was sort of nice not to have to unpack and set up the camper trailer, a last night of luxury.  Sort of!  I apologise for all the blurry/grainy photos above, they were all taken on a IPhone 5a, b or c, who would know…Well after 6500 kilometres and three weeks on the road, it was great to be home with a whole heap of memories and experiences which we shall never forget for all the right reasons!  Now the fun starts…..Unpacking!!

That’s just me with my family poking fun at me, never seemed to have the camera away from my eyes!  Oh, and a small bald spot!

Just in case you missed any of my posts on the Northern Territory, here is a recap for you with links to them.

Part 1 – A long time ago now!

Part 2 – Alice Springs – Olive Pink Botanic Garden

Part 3 – Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Part 4 – National Road Transport Hall of Fame.
Part 5 – Alice Springs Desert Park
Part 6 – Alice Springs, a few last glimpses.
Part 7 – Serpentine Gorge
Part 8 – Ormiston Gorge and the Ochre Pits
Part 9 – Kings Canyon
Part 10 – Kathleen Gorge
Part 11 – Uluru
Part 12a – Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds
Part 12b – Kata Tjuta – Walpa Gorge
Part 13 – You’re already on it!!
I will finish here with a tribute to the Northern Territory using lyrics from a hugely popular and loved classic of the screen and Broadway.  I couldn’t have said it better!!
“There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird
Is popping out to say, “Cuckoo”
Cuckoo, cuckoo
Regretfully they tell us cuckoo, cuckoo
But firmly they compel us
To say, “Goodbye”, to youSo long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sightSo long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to you and you and youSo long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen

I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye
I leave and heave a sigh and say “Goodbye”, goodbye

I’m glad to go, I cannot tell a lie
I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly

The sun has gone to bed and so must I
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Goodbye”

A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 12b.

Kata Tjuta – Walpa Gorge

Hi There,

Continuing our sojourn at Kata Tjuta, we next moved onto Walpa Gorge, a much shorter walk of about 1 hour return, this is a desert refuge for plants and animals as the soaring high walls shield the gorge from the hot sun.

Notice above on the left hand side on top of the dome, plants in a very exposed situation, coping with all sorts of extreme weather.  Walpa means windy and quite frequently you will get refreshing winds through here.  Refreshing in winter time may mean “cold”.

We didn’t see any animals in this gorge and one could imagine that with the hoards of tourists who come in here everyday, they would be quite selective with the times they would show themselves.

The walls are virtually straight up and down!

Not sure why I included this photo, just like how the water plays across the stony ground.  This is actually a very small stream that was trickling across the pathway.  Might be more apt to call it runoff.  Just imagine its a high-resolution satellite image taken from high altitude of a flooded plain.  Amazing what you can see in a picture!  Look at the size of those people walking compared to the gorge walls!

Here’s a few more water related shots.  No doubt the native fauna enjoys these cool ponds.

A nice reflection.

We are nearing the end of the track here and the flora landscape is dominated by the Spear wood vine, Pandorea doratoxylon ,  which is making very large shrubs and thickets here.  We have seen this at a few locations now, click HERE to revisit this plant at Serpentine Gorge, or just have another look at Serpentine Gorge, it is spectacular!  We even spotted it at Kings Canyon, now that’s a spectacular place, hint..hint

An interesting information panel above.  Below you can see some of the Spearwood in flower(white dots on green foliage, if you squint).

Well, we’ve reached the end of the track and officially our feet are now sore and tired after two days of a fair bit of walking, but we are at peace with the landscape and our minds are refreshed.

Thanks Kata Tjuta, we may or may not ever see you again, but your features and form are forever indelibly inked in our minds.

As we make our way back to camp for our last night in the Territory, we make one final stop at the beating heart of our great land.

So long Uluru, it has been wonderful!

Cheers!

A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 12a.

Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds

Hi There,

The next day dawned bright and not a cloud in sight, a bit different from yesterdays weather at Uluru(see part 11).  Todays adventure was being held at Kata Tjuta aka the Olga’s.  Another amazing landform not far from Uluru with rich cultural attachments for the local people.

Kata Tjuta is Pitjantjatjara meaning ‘many heads’, clearly evident in the above photo how they got to that name!  More formally you would describe it as an imposing series of mounds and domes that rise out of the surrounding landscape to an astonishing height of 546 metres above the plane(or 1066 metres above sea level).  That’s a staggering 200 metres(roughly) taller than Uluru(Ayres Rock), yet I don’t think it is as well-known as Uluru.  I suppose the difference is you can’t climb Kata Tjuta whereas you can Uluru occasionally!  What is it with us white fella’s wanting to climb and stomp over everything anyway… I digress, there will be no more political leanings or thoughts from now on!  As is the case with Uluru, these rock formations are just the tip of a huge slab of conglomerate that may extend up to 6 kilometres underground.  What is conglomerate?  I will get to that later!

These two photos were taken from the dune viewing area where there were some interesting plants to check out as well, always a good thing.

This is the Broad leaf Parakeelya, Calandrinia balonensis, an annual or perennial growing to 30cm either way with a basal rosette of fleshy linear to lanceolate leaves up to 10 cm long and 1 cm wide.  A good indicator plant of recent good rain, if there’s a good number and they are of a good size-this indicates recent good rain as they grow rapidly during wet seasons and store water for the dry times.  It has a small purple poppy like flower on  tallish stems that dance around in the breeze, if there is one!

Also from the dune viewing platform, you can swivel 90 degrees to the right and this is what you see below.

The only other imposing rock that’s around here!  The tree’s you see in the distance are Desert Oak, Allocasuarina decaisneana , also look at the first two photos of this post, the majority are all Desert Oak, quite common across the spinifex grasslands.  Juvenile Desert Oak are quite different in appearance compared to mature examples.  More will be revealed about these trees in a future post! Now lets head off and have a look at this place.

Kata Tjuta is a Anangu mens site and sacred under traditional law, which means for us tourists there is no wandering off the pathways.  There are plenty of different walks here and lots to see, so as we meander along, please stay with me!  No wandering off!  Note in the above photo the puddle of water which is a byproduct of rain we had here the day before.  If you have read part 11 of this series you would realise this, but now we were enjoying the crisp sunshine, it is winter by the way!  A balmy 17 degrees Celsius!  You can see a bunch of people above, and to their left a green patch.  I will concentrate on that now, the patch that is.

Here’s that green patch.  Wanderrie grass , Eriachne scleranthoides , a very rare type of grass, see quote from Grasses of Australia, “Known from two localities in SW central Australia. Conglomerate monoliths (Mt Olga and Mt Currie) growing on crests, scree slopes, in chasms and crevices, in shallow sand, gravelly slopes or shallow stony red soil, sometimes in seepage from
massive boulders. Flowers May (late-autumn) and Aug.-Oct. (late-winter to mid-spring)”.  Above we have a seepage area on a scree slope, which is where it likes to grow.

Quite a sharp prickly grass, looks more shrub like though doesn’t it!  Even closer below.

This is a problem I find, I get distracted by things off to the side of the pathway and lo and behold the next time I look up the family is gone!!  I’m sure I’ll catch them somewhere.

The remarkable thing about Kata Tjuta is that it’s composed of a different type of rock than what Uluru(made of sandstone) is which is only 50 kilometres away(by road, 32 as the crow flies).  Katu Tjuta is a conglomerate, a gravel consisting of pebbles, boulders and cobbles cemented by sand and mud.  Conglomerate is also a sedimentary type rock.  From a distance Kata Tjuta looks like the other big rock just around the corner, but up close its quite rough, see below photo.

Don’t know why, but I found this quite fascinating.  Here in the middle of no where, the only two objects that rise above the plain separated by a mere 50 kilometres are made of completely different rock.  I’m sure this happens everywhere, but I just found it fascinating..  Click HERE for more geology information on this rock formation.  If this was originally a huge slab of rock, how did it become domes and valleys?  This is likely to be mechanical erosion of sand from the rock and other chemical erosion caused by moisture.  The major Valley may have been fractured from the time of the Alice Springs Orogeny.  Chemical weathering due to ground water widened the fissures and rainwater run off gradually formed the domes and canyons we now see.

Now for some more wildflowers.  Look at that patch of Pussytails, Ptilotis.

Closer view here. This is actually Hairy Mulla Mulla, Ptilotus helipteroides .  The stems and leaves have a persistent covering of medium to dense hairs, giving it its common name.

It is an annual herb growing to about 50cm and usually occurs on rocky or gravelly ranges, hills or rises and on acidic rock and also found in Mulga dominated red plains and other locations.

Flowering from June until November, now for a real close-up!

We were heading to the Valley of the Winds and eventually the Karingana lookout, a return trip of 2.5 hours on a grade 4 – difficult track according to the visitor guide.  I think it was more in line with moderate track!  Here we are well into the Valley of the Winds and yes it was slightly breezy here!

It’s at this point in the above photo that if the temperature is over 36 deg Celsius at 11am, the track is closed.  This is the Karu Lookout, impressive to say the last.  Those mounds in the distance look like a flight of stairs, sort of!

As you can see it is quite rocky here.

Nothing amazing with the above photo, just showing more rock and more conglomerate, you can also see water seeping out from under that large slab.  Below is a swathe of Hairy Mulla Mulla, quite impressive to see it like this in its natural environment.

Again not a great photo but it just shows a lovely natural garden bed with no human influence!  I read something recently which I hadn’t really thought of before and that was someone’s thought on grouping colours in the garden as we do, pastels here, bright hot colours over there and so on.  The thought was (not exactly in these words)”Nature doesn’t separate plants into colour groupings, so I’m not going too.  There is just a riot of colour throughout my garden”.  I really liked that and it may just become my new mantra.  Not sure what the old mantra was!!

Lovely clear stream!

These plants I have no idea at the moment what they are, they are a work in progress.

Pretty, never the less!

In the above photo we are nearing the Karingana Lookout.  You can see it in the distance, the high part in between the two walls.  The walls of the domes just seemed to rise and rise into the bright noon day sun.Well!  We made it, what an amazing panorama greeted us!

Time to sit down for a quick bite to eat.  The 3 oldest boys decided they would keep going on the circuit walk and us oldies along with our youngest lad turned back here.  Here they are heading off at breakneck speed as per normal!

Below is another beautiful spot to recharge your batteries!

Heading back to Karu Lookout.  Below we have another Pussytail, Ptilotus exaltus , also known as Tall Mulla Mulla.

Grows to about 1.5 metres tall forming large showy drifts in open scrub and mulga country.  The flowers start off cone shape then eventually lengthen to be elongated and cylindrical 3-20cm in length and 4.5cm in diameter.  Compare the above two photos.  The leaves are quite thick and rubbery looking,  flowering from early spring until summer.  Widespread across all mainland states.  Here’s a small drift of them below.

Simply gorgeous!

Below is another plant that has featured in quite a few of these Northern Territory posts.  Solanum quadriloculatum

Another plant we saw was , Hakea subarea . This small tree also made an appearance at Ormiston Gorge.  Click HERE if you can’t remember!

Here’s a beautiful Eremophila as well.  Quite possibly Eremophila latrobei .

Some walls for perspective!  Note the little pocket of green three-quarters of the way up.  Plants Hey!  Amazing.

More tall walls, this one below includes small people, well not small people, just normal ones!

This is a small person one though!

He’s also carrying a firearm( a gun I was told!).

Here are some more flowering meadows(for want of a better word) which were good to see.

Oops! forgot about this little fellow. sorry!

This plant below is Cattle bush or Camel bush.  Yet again you see the need for scientific names!!  Two common names for the same plant, not confusing at all!  It is actually Trichodesma zeylanicum .  A perennial plant growing to 1 metre occurring on rocky hills and sand dunes, stony alluvial soils or areas subjected to seasonal flooding, flowering in winter and spring.

It was originally eaten by camels in the outback, hence one of its common names.  One presumes then that cattle also ate or still eat it!  Summer forage option!  Here’s a few more random plant photos!

More stunning scenery!

Here’s one last plant I noticed when we had nearly finished the Valley of the Winds Circuit walk.  I walked right past this on the way in!  Go figure.

Obviously a Brachyscome of some description, beautiful anyway.

A nice sculpture below.  The dead tree that is.

Now we are nearly back to the start of this circuit walk.  We did another small walk after this one but I will cover that next time round, i.e. part 12b!  To finish off, I have added the below photos sans words as a parting gesture to the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta.  They speak for themselves!

Cheers!