The weather forecast for the weekend of May14-15 was ominous. The Weather Bureau advised rain and gale force winds and we wondered if it was a foolish plan to be at Leschenault Conservation Park at all. On Friday the 3K’s (you can work out who they are) left the city in brilliant sunshine and carried loads of optimism. On arrival at the designated campsite at Tuart Grove they set up camp, stoked the fire and settled in for a pleasant evening. Someone did not have a gas bottle for the stove; just as well it was a good fire. It was a balmy evening and at midnight they called it a day and drifted off to sleep.
On Saturday Tony and I waited at the car park in Buffalo Rd for any other wet weather adventurer’s. Very soon George and Linda B arrived and we joined the Friday arrivals. We had only just set up camp when Peter Morris, the Ranger arrived with our work details for the afternoon. Stella had made the suggestion earlier that we should try to do as much as we could on Saturday afternoon and that worked out very well. The clouds began to appear and as soon as lunch was eaten we all drove to Belvidere and were given our assignments. Four areas were planted with more than 1000 small trees. Working in pairs we planted a mix of Acacia Cochlearis, Agnonis flexosa, Acacia cyclops, Eucalyptus gomphocephala and Allocasuarina obesa, along the roadside in fenced off areas between the picnic area and the gate. Maxine and Jeff O arrived at afternoon tea break and helped to finish the planting in a brief but heavy shower of rain. The sun came out and we returned to camp, Terry stoked the campfire and after a pre dinner drink we settled in for the evening. The sky was clear, the stars bright and we reflected on a very satisfactory afternoon.
Terry reported seeing big mobs of grey kangaroos on the track on the way in on Friday night and he saw several this morning. We also saw four near the gate on the way out of camp. The milkweed in the wet areas is abundant for the monarch butterflies and a large insect greeted us when we arrived in camp. The fungi are beginning to appear with the onset of the winter rain and the warm conditions. At Tuart Grove there was a large clump of orange coloured fungi of unknown species. We hope to have it identified by CALM’s Herbarium staff for curious campers.
The next morning the light drizzle cleared by the time Peter and other CALM staff arrived at 9am. for the Sunday planting program. We packed up the camp and all drove to Buffalo Beach where we transplanted pieces of spinifex hirsutus. This plant is growing well on the sand dunes, where it helps to control erosion, and George helped Peter prepare cuttings from the lengths collected for us to plant behind the fence. This fence has featured on the magazine cover in the past as well as in the Tread Lightly national magazine. Dot and Reg H, Steven G. & a number of other members erected it several years ago. It has been successful in stabilising the sand to the extent that the area can now be successfully revegetated. This task was quickly accomplished and, although the weather was warm and mild, we could see the sky becoming overcast and it was likely to be a wet afternoon.
It was raining hard by the time our convoy reached Lake Clifton where we expected to see the thrombolites, rock like structure which are living organisms similar to the stromatolites at Shark Bay,. These micro-organisms are able to precipitate calcium carbonate from the waters through photosynthesis forming the mineralised structure known as a thrombolite. We sought the shelter of the Information Rotunda for our lunch. We were joined by a busload of antique rock hunters (both rocks and people) who shared the shelter with us. The path to the boardwalk from which the thrombolites can be seen was wet and slippery in the rain so the information and photos on the storyboard had to be enough.
At about 1pm we said our farewells and went our different ways back to Perth in the rain. In retrospect we were lucky the severe weather that affected the Bunbury area did not arrive the night before when we were camped at Tuart Grove.
The next McCLEG weekend is scheduled for October 15-16. This is likely to be a seed gathering exercise in preparation for planting in 2006. Please put this date in your diary now.
The common names for the plants: Acacia cochlearis – Erect wattle, Agnonis flexosa – Peppermint Willow, Acacia cyclops – red eye wattle, Eucalyptus gomphocephala – Tuart tree, Allocasuarina obesa – Sheoak with fat nuts, Spinifex hirsutus – Hairy spinifex
Stella & Tony W (who also thank all those who came and helped do so much work so quickly: George & Linda, T’nT & the mini-Ks, Richard and Helen, John and Rosalie and Geoff & Maxine)