Happy today because....

Started by Steve, April 14, 2007, 10:39:40

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We've been doing a lot of coastal walking, and Brett wanted something special for his birthday yesterday. I pored over the Bibbulmun maps near Nornalup and found a likely section which met with HRH's enthusiastic approval, in the rare remaining old-growth Karri/Tingle forest, the majority of which has historically been pillaged for timber. Most tourists go to a curated place on the South Coast called the Valley of the Giants. The Bibbulmun track is walkers-only and takes you to places you will meet very few if any people - because most modern people don't want to get out of their cars and go for long walks. Bit sad, but given the human overpopulation, this makes for special experiences to those of us who like walking.

Karri forest has an understorey with a distinctive peppery smell that's unique to this forest; it's like being in a building filled with exotic incense. Walking in the Karri feels a little indoorsy, because you don't see much sky and your footfalls are so muffled by the thick "carpeting" underfoot. Brett says these forests have a cathedral quality - with tall columns going way way up and the same sense of hush, and very similar light.

The sheer size of the older trees is jaw-dropping...

...and to think that this was once the norm in many forests, before human destructiveness took over post-industrialisation.  :'(

You literally can't get even a quarter of a tree like this into shot with a camera.

It's like a Lilliputian experience.

These trees are hundreds of years old - typical life spans of Tingles exceed 400 years and they attain heights over 75m. Karris reach similar heights and live to 300+ years if people will let them, which they usually won't. Old-growth trees are full of nesting hollows for birds and native marsupials.

Creek crossing...lots of water in the landscape as you'd expect from this incredibly wet winter, more on that later...

In the "cathedral"...and while these photos give the appearance of having been shot lying down looking up, this is in fact just  from face height walking along.

It's very oooh-aaah... very Lord of the Rings, which was shot in New Zealand for a reason - there's so few forests like this left in this world... NZ and Australia still have patches like this, though sadly, the vast majority of the forests even here have been either cut down entirely to make room for agriculture, or looted for timber.

Here's an old eucalyptus tree (both Karri and Tingle are eucalypt species) hollowed out progressively by fire, which is one of the natural mechanisms for making animal shelters.

This is a close-up of a Karri trunk - no wonder it's called Eucalyptus diversicolor...

After a few kilometres, the Bibbulmun track joined up with a vehicle access track that was going to the famous Sappers Bridge, one of the few over the Frankland River and built largely with natural materials. We needed to cross that bridge to get to the other side of the river and up into the hills to our walking destination, the Frankland River camp site...

We came from the "X" at Boxhall Road and were going to head via the second "X" on the track map to the campsite, and then loop around and return on the riverside track (dotted red line) to check out the rapids en route - which would have been a nice long walk but alas...

Our birthday-person-on-his-birthday-walk, Brett, was laughing till he was bent double, and of the opinion that this sight compensated him for the walk being rudely cut short.  :lol:  He also said he "couldn't get over it" bwahahaha, puns are such fun.  :winking_tongue

I have been telling people for two months about how unbelievably wet this winter is. So here's the Sappers Bridge all washed out, and they're going to have to do repairs, because the road surface has been undercut and worn away so that the bridge has become inaccessible structurally, and not just because of current flooding. Typically for bloody-minded me, I was looking at the railings to see if a pedestrian could cheat their way across after all, but I'd have had to jump 2 metres across rapids to the edge of the bridge, onto the concrete base before clambering on the handrails etc, and of course I can't jump 2 metres, and God only knows how many metres I'd have had to jump at the other end, plus we have a dog etc.

This was the view of the oncoming and outgoing water respectively:

If you're wondering about the foam, it's a natural phenomenon linked to the tannins in the water. When we got home we found that the bridge was first closed because the foam had made it impassable for vehicles - here's an official picture of that:

That was before water levels kept rising and the bridge itself was flooded, and the roadways to it washed out.  :1f62e:

Here's a historical image of this bridge prior to being fitted out with its metal rails, to show how much water there usually is beneath it when things are quiet...

So we can agree - that's a hell of a lot of water running down the Frankland at the moment...  :1f635:

Therefore we retraced our steps, but it was still a lovely walk back, plus of course we have 2.5 weeks off from Thursday and plan to do a lot of hiking on new-to-us trails. We're planning to do that circuit walk properly when the waters recede - although that probably won't be till September.

Brett thought it would be hilarious if I stood in front of a certain road sign partly obscuring its writing...


When we got back on the proper foot-only trail, we found an uprooted old tree. Here's a human for scale:

It's such a fabulous forest.

The foreground giants are Tingle, the background white trees are Karri.

And then we were back where we'd parked.

We hope you've enjoyed your virtual Australian Ent-forest adventure!  :)

There's a few more photos on Flickr directly as usual...but this time I've used most of them in the walk report because it was such a fantastic place...
SueC is time travelling


Well, I am happy to have been successfully stabbed today by someone who was as good as the nurses who usually give me my flu shots. Zilch discomfort after, and the actual puncture just felt like a scratch - March flies, by contrast, really hurt. Now verily may that immune brigade make antibodies to the spike protein that my body will make courtesy of the mRNA instructions.  :smth023
SueC is time travelling



Yesterday there was enough interruption in the downpours to be able to have a decent 2.5-hour walk of about 10km through the dunes and along the clifftops of the Torndirrup peninsula coast. This is the twin of the Muttonbird to Grasmere return walk we did a fortnight ago, where we came into our turn-around point in Grasmere (Turbine 19) from the west. So this time we walked in from the east, from the entrance point at Albany Wind Farm.

There was drizzle on and off, but the wind chill was the biggest issue - we were walking between 11.30am and 2pm when temperatures peaked at 15 degrees Celsius but the wind had the apparent temperatures down to 1-2 degrees Celsius - and that was at the airport where such data is recorded; not out on the windiest edge of our wild coast, where the town's 19-turbine wind farm is located. There it was brutal and certainly felt below freezing, but we're equipped with outdoor thermals including gloves, and within 15 minutes of walking at a decent pace you're fine, as long as you've got enough calories on board.

This is the view down the tourist lookout platform at the ocean, which was properly roiling not just with wind speeds peaking well over 50km/hour, but mostly from the long stormy fetch between the South Coast and Antarctica.

To see this on a photo doesn't actually give you any idea, because it doesn't quite give you the scale - everything about the coast is huge, so you feel like a tiny ant walking around. The cliffs tower, dunes are massive, ocean and sky are infinite, and the waves are enormous, with king waves known to exceed 10 metres in height and sweeping unwary anglers off the coastal rocks every year. Even the "ordinary" surf crashes into the cliffs with a force that makes the earth shake. We used to live a mile inland from Sand Patch and we could hear the waves thundering from there. Standing on the edge of the coast, you physically feel their force; in your ears, in your legs, in your ribcage.

On the South Coast, massive wind turbines with nacelles the size of buses and 35-metre blades look like children's toys in the landscape, just as huge cargo ships entering King George Sound look like toy boats in a bathtub.

I post these walks in the "Happy Today Because..." topic because they make me happy. Not just the healthy exercise in ultra-fresh air, but being able to do that in this wild, majestic landscape, where you understand that the human species is not quite as clever and powerful as it likes to think it is. In view of the decidedly un-sapiens-ness of our species, it comforts me to know nature in the raw, and to know that it will still be here in some form when we've wiped ourselves and lots of other species off the planet with our un-sapiens-ness. (For more on that, see the last photo in this post.)

The coastal heathlands of the South Coast are a botanical wonderland - near-pristine pieces of ancient Gondwana and a world biodiversity hotspot. We oooh-aaah our way through this stuff even now, after decades of acquaintance. It's like walking in a botanical garden, and the best kind - one not put in place by humans as a collection, but a place where staggering species diversity occurs naturally. Here at the edge of the world, you can get a pretty good idea of how life used to be before humans industrialised the planet, and you can mourn for what people have destroyed, and what they will yet destroy with their so-called progress. But eventually, by doing this, they will destroy themselves.

Wildflowers are beginning to come out in a steady stream that will become an explosion in spring.

These are Banksia flowers in varying degrees of expansion:

When their filaments first come out - between the two stages shown - Banksia flowers make a good "bushman's compass" because they unfold on the north side first - facing the sun, here in the southern hemisphere. There are hundreds of Banksia species in Australia.

The Roaring Forties don't just shape the waves, coastline, general landscape and vegetation here, they're also pretty good for line-drying your washing on a winter's day without actual precipitation - such as today; laundry day is also when I write up walking reports in-between tending to the twin tub (a hippie washing machine popular in Japan) and the line drying.  :winking_tongue

Next is someone's idea of a practical joke - carrying off the car park sign and placing it in an interesting spot, especially for car park directions:

Interesting car park indeed - and no, it wasn't us; I prefer to prank people with ultra-realistic fake huntsman spiders. Humans are the deadliest species on the planet but recoil at something a thousand times smaller than them that has a lower chance of killing them than a flying champagne cork, and about the same level of interest. Look in the mirror and be afraid, people - not for yourselves, but for our fellow creatures and the planet. :1f62e: It's just as ridiculous as all those stereotypical "hostile aliens coming to kill you" movies - don't people love to project.

Brett with a Roaring Forties hairstyle:

See, Robert Smith could save so much hairspray doing it like this (with the slight inconvenience of having to remain on location).  :angel

A tunnel of Banksias:

Slowly creeping up on the Grasmere extension (Turbines 14-19) - and creeping because I'd forgotten to have morning tea and it was now lunchtime. I'd been so full from breakfast I'd blithely only brought morning tea - fruit, peanuts, a slice of lemon meringue pie to share - but now I was full-on fantasising about a nice roast beef and cheese sandwich made with wholemeal mixed-grain home-made bread and a whole shrubbery of salad leaves, including Wasabi and Red Mustard (which are leaf varieties, if you grow heirlooms, which we do), slathered in whole-egg mayonnaise and dusted with freshly ground four-colour peppercorns, and with a dollop of home-made tomato sauce between the cheese and the beef.

Alas, I would have to wait until 3.30pm to get my jaws around one of those. Meanwhile, we had a snack break in which I attempted to re-fuel on peanuts and fruit. This did improve my walking speed again (but nowhere near when I'm walking after a good lunch with a cup of coffee in me - I can walk many hours on a good lunch and as I rarely have coffee, it increases my walking speed around 25% - woohoo).

Later on, we got to Turbine 19 and had another food stop - more peanuts and fruit and the lemon meringue, but my beloved husband also produced a surprise bar of chocolate I didn't even know we had, because he'd bought it on the sneak and sequestered it away for an emergency (which he says he sees as being part of his job). Sadly, my body was screaming for a decent lunch and didn't want chocolate, but I ate some anyway because I didn't want to crawl home. Therefore we made a decent pace back.

These walks are one part of what our dog considers a perfect day: A drive in the broom-broom with outraged barking if we have to slow down, a lengthy walk preferably in new territory where she can say, "All of this is now mine!" with her frequent territorial marking (she's an alpha female and actually lifts her leg to do this), another drive in the broom-broom surveying further opportunities for expanding her personal kingdom, and then a nice big dinner, after which she curls up between her pillows on her personal sofa, getting her belly rubbed by the Useful Monkey (a dog's life indeed) while the Useless Monkey pontificates at her ("Where's your dignity?" etc) and the Useful Monkey reminds him that he has precious little dignity himself when it is he who is getting his belly rubbed, etc, to which the Useless Monkey always says, "I don't know what you mean."

The sun smiled upon our backs on the return walk, which warmed us nicely. There was even a rainbow.

The fungi, and the amphibians, just looove this super-wet winter. Fungi out everywhere.

The dog always wonders why I'm stopping again when the camera is out...

And then we were back at the starting point (from which the total displacement was zero, you might like to know :yum:).

Here's a good closing thought:

SueC is time travelling


Brett's look and your clothes seem to suggest it wasn't too warm.  ;)

I'm happy about a museum visit yesterday (on a "schloss"/castle) - about (horse) carriages, coaches and "chaises", hay carts etc.!
From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts



This little expedition was done on the Thursday just before the Sand Patch/Grasmere trek, but it can be hard to keep up with writing these things up if you're potentially doing 2-3 of these a week because you're on holidays. We don't photograph and write up every big walk we do, only the ones we've not done before, not done in a while or not documented previously. Sometimes we just walk.

Because we've not been "away" on holidays for ten years - ever since we bought our smallholding, planted 5,000 trees, built our own house, started growing our own fruit & vegetables and doing general farm, nature reserve and livestock management - we decided to have a genuine holiday closer to home by doing a lot of new-to-us remote walks on the South Coast. We're really enjoying this - what was driving us mad was doing the same 30-odd walks (Stirling Ranges, Porongurups, Albany Coast) all over again and never exploring anything fresh.

One day we hope to go to Tasmania again for, you guessed it, more walking - but right now there's the pandemic. However - we've got the maps for another 150km of Bibbulmun trail we've mostly not done before, between Denmark and Pemberton. The Forest of the Ents walk was a sample from there; with more to come soon.

Lights Beach to Hanging Rock is just west of Denmark, and another good place for a Roaring Forties hairstyle:

I last did this particular walk with a colleague called Sharon over 15 years ago, pre-Brett. I've long wanted to show him this one, but we have a dog, and this section has "dogs forbidden" signs because of 1080 baiting of feral animals and other avoiding-lawsuit-related reasons from the managing government department. I used to be a law-abiding citizen, and then I moved to the country, and started doing things like buying milk straight from a person with a cow (forbidden) instead of letting the truck take it up to Perth for bottling and then bring it down again so I can buy it from the supermarket with 500 "food miles" and most of the profit going to middlemen instead of the cow owner. Rebel that I am. I now do lots of things that are verboten, mostly as a form of protest against unjust regulations that favour the wealthy, and actually remove ordinary citizens' rights to do useful things that were lawful for most of human existence, like grandmothers selling jam at the markets (now forbidden, unless she's hired or bought a stainless steel kitchen to make the jam - of course, McDonalds can legally make people ill from their stainless steel kitchens...).

The trail leading out:

If that bit seems easy and straightforward, look again at the first photo in this series: Because it's been so wet, we had to make our way across that stream, and upon leaping across, we landed in quicksand. Not very bad quicksand, just the type that makes you go, "Oh, it's quicksand!" as your foot suddenly slides into it up to your knee.

We love the vegetation tunnels regularly encountered on the Bibbulmun trail...

Also the shapes of trees when they're wild things growing in their own wild way:

You just don't see them like this in parks.

As mentioned on recent walk reports, there are a lot of fungi in the landscape at the moment. This is a coral fungus.

The landscape is full of water this winter. Even the higher-up areas are like saturated sponges; in the low areas there's inundation. We're about to break "wettest ever July" records.

More fungi:

Some of these are hallucinogenic, and this is the time of year police in Nannup deploy two full-time people for several months to discourage mushroom tourism in the local tree plantations. As if they have nothing better to do. As a taxpayer I object to the expense of this operation. The "really-bad-consequences" they are citing here include some dude high on mushrooms selling his $10,000 car for $1,000 (squarely his own problem), someone walking around nude in the centre of Balingup (I'm sure we've seen it all before), and someone else going missing for four days sleeping in the forest thinking he was in a bear cave. Ho hum. Personal responsibility, natural selection, etc, and I for one would rather these two police were chasing burglars or breath testing drunk drivers instead of pontificating about fungi while we pay their salaries.

Lake William:

Mushrooms everywhere...

On the way to Hanging Rock:

The view back to Mt Hallowell and Monkey Rock:

The coastal heathland is like a Japanese garden... only better!

Here's some photos of Hanging Rock.

There's more on the Flickr page but I'm going to abbreviate the rest; too many photos and I've got chores to go do. So if you'd like to see the full set, just click on any photo to go to the photopage.

It's not officially called Hanging Rock but I called it that when I went there with Sharon many years ago, because it's reminiscent of the scenery of the classic Australian gothic horror flick Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Tomboy foolishness indeed. OMG. Speaking of, the track to Hanging Rock actually had an official diversion around it, with a sign saying it was "dangerous" - we duly ignored it, and went to see for ourselves if there really was a problem. There wasn't - one fallen tree it was easy to clamber over, a couple of exposed roots, nothing to worry hikers who do the Bibbulmun, which is a serious track, not a park cakewalk. We later worked out that the real reason they had put a diversion around it was because a new tourist access road was constructed a little further up from Hanging Rock two years ago, and they apparently forgot to take the sign down when the construction project was finished over six months ago. This explains why other hikers before us had removed the barrier that had been erected on the track. Honestly, hello.  :1f635:

But it was Hanging Rock I had wanted to show Brett for years, and so I wasn't abandoning that trail without good reason, which it turns out there wasn't anyway. And we had our picnic at Hanging Rock.

We went a bit further, towards the new tourist access road - down a steep, densely vegetated valley and back up into dunes with lovely sea views. Then we turned back. Those photos you can see on Flickr directly.

Something abstract from the way home:

This is just sand patterns in a temporary stream which has tannins in it. Brett loves these sorts of photographs because they could be alien planets etc - there's no sense of scale. Here's the context:

And I conclude with another fungus - this is a Brain Fungus...

Another happy walk.
SueC is time travelling


Great pics, nice scenery, strange fungi! Thanks for sharing those.  :happy
From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts


You're welcome, @Ulrich! ...I think we need a few castles and carriages and European landscapes and historical thingies on this thread. Can you help? Otherwise people are just going to get Australia, Australia and more Australia...  ;)

SARS-CoV-2 is restricting movement around the world, so people sharing local adventures can offer people "virtual trips" to other places in the world. If people reading are enjoying their vicarious Australian adventures (our borders have been closed since March 2020 and probably won't open until 2022 the earliest), maybe they have some local adventures from their own areas they can share in turn! :)

By the way, that Brain Fungus is really big - about the size of a human brain...
SueC is time travelling



Sandwiched between Monday/Tuesday's destructive severe cold front and the next one like it forecast to come in Thursday, we grabbed the chance to go on an outing to Walpole on Wednesday. However, we hadn't been entire slouches during the severe weather and did a 5km hike through the local valley floor in our wet weather gear on Tuesday morning. Mostly this was in sheltered woodland and not so bad - not like being out on the coast, where 100km/h wind gusts were occurring and could have blown people off the cliffs. All the normal animal paths through the bushland had turned into creeks though, so we had to pretty much hop from bushgrass clump to bushgrass clump to avoid the water in many places.  :1f62e:

Today the rain hasn't set in yet, but the wind gusts inland where we live are now working themselves up past 80km/h and are forecast to potentially go past 100km/h; not a good time to be on the road, and later tonight the next deluge will hit. So we are happy to have gotten out yesterday. Walpole is just over an hour west of us past Denmark and home to tall Karri and Tingle forests (and lots of historical and modern clearfelling  :1f62b:); it also has houseboats on an estuary, and lots of scenic coastline we've only explored a fraction of so far (meaning, on foot, in the wilderness areas etc, not just driving from tourist car park to tourist car park).

We got to Walpole at morning teatime and decided to warm up for a slated Bibbulmun track section in the afternoon by doing a circuit walk around and into Walpole itself. If you only ever drive into a town, you don't really get to know it, so we decided to park at Coalmine Beach out of town (marked X on map below) and take walk trails from there to the inlet and then through town (mostly the yellow tracks) and back out again on a circuit (red dashed line), as a way of getting to know the place better.


These are our "setting out on another happy adventure" photographs at the Coalmine Beach car park.

This, by the way, is typical happy body language from Brett and he did exactly the same at our wedding nearly 14 years ago...  :winking_tongue

From Coalmine Beach, a walk track runs through a conservation area to the Walpole Inlet and the outskirts of Walpole. This is typical coastal heathland grading into woodland.

The trees, as is so typical for what grows wild on the South Coast, have all sorts of sculptural qualities.

A rather impressive bridge/boardwalk over the Collier creek brought us to the town periphery.

The ants have been building their nests higher out of the ground than usual with all this wet weather we've been having. These mounds are now everywhere and are presumably in aid of an ant colony not drowning below ground level, where all the soil is like a saturated sponge.

Coming up to the Inlet:

Paperbark trees:

This is on the Swarbrick jetty:

...and this is the amused reaction when the photographer says, "You've got a spider on your nose!"...

Metropolitan Walpole!

Walpole feels like a cross between a typical small SW-WA country town, and a holiday-shack village (e.g. Windy Harbour, Peaceful Bay, Tasmania's Doo Town). We walked through the residential streets to the main street where craft and gift shops and coffee shops cater for visitors. There we had fish and chips and bought some treats to take on the afternoon's forest walk. Then we completed the circuit walk back to Coalmine Beach.

This is Coalmine Beach:

Then we drove a short way to the Hilltop Forest car park to begin the afternoon's walking in quite a different environment.
SueC is time travelling


It seems to be warmer now. ;)

Quote from: SueC on July 28, 2021, 14:21:47...I think we need a few castles.

Ok, here it is (older pic of the one I visited last weekend):

From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts


That's lovely, @Ulrich:)  :smth023  I'm sort of looking at the hilltop with appreciative eyes, and then there's a slight jarring that happens when they alight on the concrete utility buildings in the castle's circumference. Oh well. Sadly, it seems we can't have hospitals and flats that look like (genuine, not Las Vegas) castles.

And it was indeed a little warmer, mostly because we didn't have 70km/h wind gusts on that one!  :)

OK, now for Part 2 of our walk, which I couldn't fit in the last post...


The section of Bibbulmun track we ended up doing is bounded by double arrows on the above walk map. We had meant to start at the base of the hill but couldn't find parking there - and the track which led to the Bibbulmun there wasn't signposted. So we drove up the main track.

This is regrowth Karri forest, which a lot of people who don't spend much time in old-growth forests oooh and aaah about. If you live in a city, or if you live in Europe where there really isn't any pristine wilderness left, you may be overjoyed by walking or driving through a forest like this - beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see.

But if you're a biologist or keen amateur naturalist, and you live in a place where you can spend a lot of time in old-growth and near-pristine ecosystems, this kind of forest makes you grieve. It's closer to a plantation than to what it was before industrialisation: The understorey, where most of the species in these kinds of systems reside, has become hugely impoverished, causing local extinction of species and contributing to world biodiversity loss. The species diversity of the canopy trees is also reduced, and the trees you do see tend to be of fairly uniform size and age, because they were all seedlings who regenerated in what was essentially a humanly caused natural disaster area, and all grew up together, competing for light as they went and growing more closely together, taller and straighter than trees do in what's called a climax forest - and of course, the foresters prefer that kind of regrowth because it suits their commercial purposes better.

Old-growth forests (and other pristine ecosystems, such as Western Australia's coastal woodlands and heathlands) took thousands of years to evolve into their present degree of diversity of species, form and ages, and to become intricately interconnected. As a European I'd never seen an ancient ecosystem before I came to Australia. Even the remnant bushland we have on our farm represents millions of years of largely uninterrupted evolution from ancient Gondwana - never were the woodlands on it clearfelled, and never was the understorey or the heathland bulldozed: Unlike the majority of the planet's land surface, especially since human industrialisation which started about 1760 - less than 300 years ago.

We're destroying everything. It's hard enough to get some people to care about genocide and refugees when they're in human form, but what about all the other species we share the planet with? That's even more difficult, because modern humans feel culturally entitled to take what they want from nature, and to exterminate so-called "lesser" species. My problem, by the way, isn't with being part of a food chain (in both directions), it's in the complete imbalance as each day, more and more of the general biomass is replaced with human biomass, as the human population grows exponentially like a pandemic, devouring not just individuals from other species, but whole other species, either as food or as convenience. Humans as a species are behaving exactly like bacteria in a laboratory culture - they explode exponentially until they exhaust their resource base and die in their own wastes.

It's because advances in medicine and sanitation increased infant survival and the general human life span, and modern human beings still don't effectively limit their family sizes to replacement-only levels with contraception (and many would be mortally offended were they asked to do so). Actually, these days even replacement is too much - as we've already exceeded the planet's long-term carrying capacity, and are now irreversibly damaging the biosphere.

And it's not talked about, because we're drowned too deep in the narcosis of civilisation; most of us don't see it. Our economic system pretends that you can have infinite "growth" in a finite system with limited resources and space. Societies like Australia have a financial elite who thrive on land speculation; who parasitise scarcity and property booms, and they won't let up until they've carved up every acre they can claw their way into for "development" - agriculture initially, and now mostly creating more and more suburbia for booming migrant populations. This makes millions and millions of dollars for real estate agents, real estate speculators, construction companies, "investors" (people who have enough surplus money to own more than just their own home, and out-compete a lot of people who can't afford a home of their own), councils who can charge land rates, etc.

People only rarely seem to feel they have enough - enough stuff, enough prestige, enough money in the bank. Westerners expect constantly rising living standards - i.e. constant increases in the energy and resources available to them, and to their children, no matter how many, on a finite planet. We talk scathingly of parasites, of freeloaders - and yet as a species, that's exactly what we are. We're the very worst parasites and freeloaders who have ever inhabited the surface of this planet, and most of us can't see it. We're eating everything else alive.

But I digress. To see real old-growth forest, have a look at our Forest of the Ents post. That is what the forest either side of the access road in the picture above used to be like, less than 200 years ago.

We drove up this access road until we got to the Hilltop Lookout car park. It was a one-way road, so we couldn't backtrack. Therefore we decided to walk in both directions from there, not from the bottom up as we'd originally planned to. Here's some views off the Hilltop Lookout, where a section of the forest was removed so people could see the coastline.

The ribbon of blue is the Frankland River leading to the Walpole-Nornalup Inlets, and the views across are to East Point and Rocky Head, and beyond that Saddle Island and other offshore islands.

The section of forest we began to walk through to the east and south of the Hilltop Lookout was ecologically better than what we'd driven in through. There were still old "giants" in it - not everything had been cut down by forestry; logging had been more selective, and some trees had been left standing.

This last group of photos, Brett took with a proper camera (which he first got out on the lookout) - most of our recent walks I've just documented with a little iPod camera, for convenience. Makes me think it's worth taking my own proper camera in again too. The iPod is fine for "sketching" quickly, but you'll be able to see its limitations for yourself by comparing the photo qualities in the mixed batch to follow!

You'd just not get shapes like this in plantations, or in ground-zero regrowth - they take a long time and a complex environment to form.

It's nice to come across old "survivors" like this. ♥

Here's what the bases of these trees look like when they eventually fall over...

I just loved this next tree...

Brett took photos of bark textures.

This tree had a little window through it...

It takes many years for these tunnels, hollows and cavities to form - and they are ultra-important as shelters and nests for native birds and arboreal marsupials. You won't find these in the kind of regrowth forest we drove in through. One of the many reasons our Black Cockatoos are endangered is because many thousands upon thousands of their erstwhile nesting hollows have been cut down with the old trees. Black Cockatoos have a life span of around 60 years, so it took people a while to notice that most of the population that was left were essentially pensioners.

The blue Cortinarius is one of the prettiest fungi in the forest...

It grew near a "tunnel" in the base of a tree you could have sat in.

You can just see this little tunnel in the broader "porch" behind Brett.

Here was an attempt to photograph a sort of pond in a fallen tree trunk, which was a bit impeded by taking it with an iPod...

Everywhere you turn there's something amazing.

Like a fern growing in a "natural flower pot" high up in a tree, and catching the sun.

We walked back to the lookout and then in the other direction, down the hill. There Brett did some lovely studies of shelf fungi.

That last close-up was hand-held and would have benefitted from a tripod. So, Brett should bring his tripod in future, and I my proper camera! :yum:

Our final photo from the walk was meant to demonstrate an unusual phenomenon: As we stood there, it was raining significantly behind the tree with the fungi on it, but not at all where we stood maybe 10 metres away - and it went on like this for quite a while!

The sunlit gap behind the tree was actually filled with a shower of raindrops. None of it ever moved further south to start raining on us. We kept on walking downhill, and when we got near the highway, turned around and made our way back up. When we came to the same spot, the same thing was still happening! We then made our way through that extremely narrow stationary rain band, continuing up the incline.

Something else I saw a demonstration of, and wanted to relate, since we're in a pandemic and all that: Just how much aerosol you exhale when you're exercising heavily! At one point I stopped and leaned against a mossy fallen log, trying to catch my breath, when the slanting sunlight combined with the high humidity in the forest made the aerosol I was breathing out (through my mouth, because I'd been climbing for a while) clearly visible, and we could see it drifting for over three metres away from me on a light breeze. Wow! If I had SARS-CoV-2 and you breathed that in, you'd highly likely get it. Under the right conditions, from more than three metres away, and in an outdoors environment.

Breathing out through the nose cut it down, but breathing straight out through the mouth made truly spectacular amounts of aerosol. Proper layered masks are really good for cutting down on aerosols (and even better with droplets), whether produced by heavy exertion, coughing, sneezing or just speaking. Works best if both parties are wearing them - the aerosol-maker, and the bystander. I'd not generally wear masks exercising outdoors because we walk quite remote trails, but I would in a higher-density outdoors situation, and I'd certainly move a few metres off the track to let someone else pass when I'm not wearing a mask - and face away from them. I've already done that out of an abundance of caution, in supermarkets as well - but I was quite amazed just how far those aerosols can carry.

I have, by the way, finally had my first vaccination. Brett is still waiting. We're doing second worst of all the OECD countries in the vaccine rollout. But even fully vaccinated, I'd still consider wearing masks under certain circumstances. Like, it's not actually fun to catch ordinary colds or flus either, so I'd from now on wear masks if I had any kind of respiratory infection and for some reason had to venture into public - or if I was around such people. And, people can still catch, harbour and transmit virus when fully immunised - what the vaccines are good at is preventing serious illness. (At least until the virus evolves new spike proteins. Then we'll be playing vaccine catch-up again.)
I'll close this post with some photos of the very swollen Frankland River at its intersection with the South Coast Highway, that we took on the way back. This is the river we couldn't cross further upstream on our Ent walk because the Sappers Bridge was flooded (plus it had foam all over it).

SueC is time travelling



After days of soggy, horrible weather, we finally got a slightly better forecast and ventured out to Parry Beach an hour's drive from home, for a day's happy exploration of the local area. We still got wet on and off, but it was good to be out, in places that were completely new to us!

We've been to Parry Beach once before, but that was to do the 25km return walk to Boat Harbour back in May. The Bibbulmun track crosses Parry Beach Road slightly out of town, and 25km kept us plenty busy for the day, so we'd not had a chance to actually explore the immediate Parry Beach coastline.

You can see the Bibbulmun track in yellow/black, on which we headed westwards last time - and I've marked yesterday's route in green, but it wasn't straightforward, and we looped around and backtracked quite a bit. So I'll break this walk into four sections to make it easy to understand.

Section 1: Coast immediately south of Parry Beach - stopping at hill

The first section took us from Parry Beach village south along the coast to the white sticking-out headland you can see on the map with the "D" shape in my green track line. That "D" is a very overgrown bush track around the top of a hill, and when things got hairy there (more on that later), we turned around and headed back to the village.

This is the village beach, looking north:

As we headed over the rocks due south along the coast, we met a very cute, very unperturbed sleepy seal.

Brett thinks it probably gets fed fish offcuts by the recreational anglers. Our dog had never seen a seal before and was incredibly intrigued, but I kept her well away on a leash so the seal wouldn't get stressed.

Soon we reached the next beach, and Jess was able to devote herself to her wave-chasing hobby.

That hill in the distance is "the" hill we got stuck on, by the way. At the far end of this beach we had an early lunch - huge ham/cheese/avocado/salad sandwiches we'd brought from home. This was our picnic spot:

Note all the doggy footprints between us and the water - the dog spent time with us, then went out to chase waves, came back, went out again etc. We managed not to get rained on while eating. There were some striking sea sponges washed up.

After our meal, we headed south along the rocky shoreline, imagining we would be able to follow it all the way to the next beach, as indicated on the track map.  :-D

There was nothing to suggest it wouldn't be so - here's a shot back as we began clambering.

We soon hit an area with really interesting, aerated volcanic rocks.

There were lots of crabs in the rock pools.

Soon after, the coastline became treacherous...

The waves were ramming into the shore, and the path passed too low for the weather conditions and swell to be safe. People get washed off the South Coast rocks and die on a regular basis because they ignore conditions like this. Later on I'll show the area in question from the other side, complete with waves bursting over the shore.

We were unable to find an alternative route through the bush over the top of the hill, so we simply backtracked to the village.

We got rained on, and as the sun came out again we had a welcome break in a warm car, drying out our raincoats and backpacks outside and sipping hot tea from a thermos. Then we set out again, in a different direction.

Section 2: William Pinniger Trail & Hillier Beach South

This time we walked west along the main road (red on track map) until we reached the William Pinniger Trail (red dotted line), which we followed to Hillier Beach.

This is not a creek, this is the actual track - it was flooded in sections, and we had fun trying to leap from edge to edge to keep to reasonable footing.

Hillier Beach:

The dog loves hiking days.

Fabulous coastline...

Then we backtracked along the beach towards a path straight up!

Section 3: The Big Dune & Ridgetop Walking

...and I mean up...

Once on the ridge, we had to bushbash our way across to the ridgetop 4WD track (red on map). Brett was a bit suspicious of this process - I often joke that his middle name should have been Thomas. While he grew up in the wilds like I did, he's a bit more civilised than me and more reliant on external compasses etc instead of instinct. So here he was, impudently playing air guitar at my person and informing me that the piece he was miming was called Watching Me Fall.

Alas, we soon found the track and the lookout named in Bill Pinniger's honour.

Section 4: Hillier Beach North, over the hill and back to Parry Beach Village

The Pinniger Trail returned us to Hillier Beach again, spitting us out via this staircase:

You can see by the dog prints we did this twice - the first set fading on the left, the current set fresh on the right.

There was a lot of purple staining (from red algae) on one section of the beach.

The views back towards Point Hillier reminded me of a glass artwork.

And so we made it back to the other side of the hill, with a clear view of the treacherous section of rocks we didn't want to cross in these conditions.

At least from this side, we weren't going to suddenly fall over a cliff, not knowing the local lay of the land. We could see where we'd have to round the hill.

This is the first of a series of nine photos I took closer-up of what exactly the waves were doing on that bit of coast.

To see the others, click on the above to get to Flickr, then press the right arrow to go forward. Brett says I should have taken a film at this point, but at least the pictures will give people an idea of the force of the waves - and these were normal waves for the day. You also get periodic rogue waves called king waves, which can be two to four times higher than the highest waves in "normal" sets in any given conditions...

So we went up and over instead.

...and finally found the connection to the beach we'd had our early lunch on, about four hours before.

That was a summary only - we have far more photos than I can cram into a post, of really beautiful things, and it has been painful to leave so much out. If you want to see the full set with lots more amazing stuff - this was an incredible walk - here's a slide show: Use the right arrow - photos finish with the dog in the back of the car!


We hope you have enjoyed another virtual guided walk on Western Australia's remote and wild southern coastline. ♥
SueC is time travelling


Someone praised this photo with "looks almost like a Monet painting", so I share it here:

Plus another one of an old door (pic taken in a former monastry):
From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts


Oooh, that's lovely, Ulrich - and that door!  :heart-eyes  Some acquaintances who were building a strawbale house the same time we did have a really old carved wooden entry door from Egypt (not dissimilar from your photo, especially in shape and dimensions) which they'd fallen in love with in a secondhand place on overseas travels, and shipped home to use one day.

Someone else we know used an old wooden hospital entry door from the inland town of Katanning for their build to good effect. We just have a relatively plain production-line front door - but I do like the leadlighting in it, and I made some nice rustic architraves with swirly patterns and various colours (not expensive, cut from a $5 Jarrah facecut board from the local mill, which I put through a thickness planer and table sawed into strips - the colours and patterns you can find in these rough boards are amazing).

I'm happy today because it's NOT raining and I may be able to do some outdoors work (although in gum boots).

I'm also super happy because I had my second shot of Pfizer on Monday. The needle scraped bone this time (different nurse), I noticed that immediately and felt a bit bruised for the first day in consequence, but it's good today, and the vaccination gives me peace of mind as Delta will almost certainly crawl out of NSW and cause a problem over here in the next few months.

NSW had a softly-softly approach to Delta leaking through quarantine two months ago, which backfired on them spectacularly - now in major lockdown that will go on for months; not nipped in the bud, too little too late, consequently growing case numbers, and sadly university studies say there's only around 50-60% public compliance with health orders in the state. (Also NSW aren't stopping their lockdown zone people who aren't supposed to travel from getting on highways out or interstate planes, so Tasmania had to turn someone back to NSW and they turned out infectious with Delta-strain COVID at the time, which meant over 200 people in Tassie had to isolate for two weeks, thanks a lot, considering Tassie hasn't had an active case for over a year... We expect to sooner or later get someone trying to crash through into WA from locked-down NSW... Brett is still waiting in the vaccination queue, his first shot is next month.)

Also a belated happy from Friday.


(Proffering map) "Look, Brett - this fine sunny day we could have a picnic lunch at Boat Harbour and the good look-around we didn't get to have when we walked the 12.5km from Parry Beach in May and had to go back again before dark. There's a road to it; the last 5km or so it says 4WD only. Some of that our car may be able to do and then we can just walk the rest, it's not so far."

What could possibly go wrong?

I'd made fish cakes and rice salad for the picnic, we had fruit and nuts and chocolate for snacks, and iced coffee and thermoses of hot tea. A nice way to finish off the holiday walking with the weekend forecast wet and windy again.

The 4WD track turned out non-negotiable for 2WD because sections were too soft and sandy, so we parked at the corner and started walking (marked blue on map).

It's not as much fun to walk on vehicle tracks as on dedicated walk trails, because you're not as "immersed" and because the footing is frequently loose, so it can be like walking on a beach, except it's not a beach.

Nevertheless, we'd never been down this track before, and the Owingup Nature Reserve offers gorgeous woodlands, heathlands and wetlands, en route to spectacular Boat Harbour. Wildflower season is about to get into full swing - the bushes with white blooms in these photos are tea-trees starting to flower, and the yellow pom-poms are wattles (various Acacia species).

From halfway to our destination, we could see the ridge of dunes over which the Bibbulmun trail wends its way from Parry Beach to Boat Harbour - in this photo, the blue coastal ridge starting about one third of the way across from the left (the first third are wooded inland dunes).

There was a fair bit of water on the road itself; many corner puddles like this one, and some sections completely inundated. We made our way past those by diverting over the road banks.

If you look at the map, there's seasonal wetlands marked in next to the 4WD track. To say that these were full is an understatement. Here's a view west directly from the track:

It was those that broke banks and flooded the road at intervals. It's just that time and again when the track looked like a creek or swamp for the next 50 to 100m, we were in luck with higher ground on the eastern roadside, and could clamber along there until the track was dry again.

And then we were nearly there. We could smell the ocean and hear the waves, and were looking forward to our picnic. The sign said Boat Harbour.

"Yay! In ten minutes we can unpack our picnic on the granite shores of Boat Harbour!"

But then there was this.

"No worries," we thought. We'd done this half a dozen times in the past hour. Road underwater, but look at the dry verge on the left - just follow that along. Piece of cake.

About four fifths of the way along the photo, the dry verge ends at an intersection with another flooded track - this one in a valley, and more than thigh deep. We didn't want to swim. I don't have a photo from there because I literally had to hang off a peppermint tree to be able to see around the corner. Sometimes it would be useful to have tentacles, but because I don't, there's no photo.

So we backtracked to the place near which the last photo was taken, and had our fine picnic lunch there, on the bank next to the flooded track. It was lunchtime, we were starving, and we knew that our brains would think better after some nourishment was on board.

After increasing the blood glucose levels, I went back to the flooded intersection with the deep water to see if there was any way through the vegetation on the left to try a crossing further south - but the whole thing was a thicket.

I walked back along the bank testing the inundation depth with a stick. All of that section was at least knee deep. On getting back to where Brett and the dog were resting, I floated the idea that we might be able to roll up our pants, take off our shoes, and wade barefoot to see if a crossing was possible if we stuck to the right-hand side of the inundated road.

Brett wasn't keen because he'd seen broken glass on the road, and the tannins in the floodwater make it impossible to see the bottom. We both remembered the scene in the specials for Lord Of The Rings where the hobbits ran into the water and Sam stopped as if he'd hit a wall and folded over. Because glass had come through the actor's latex hobbit feet.

I remembered a middle school classmate when we were on an afternoon outdoor education excursion to the local weir to go swimming in the sweltering heat, running into the water and just collapsing. They pulled her out and her big toe was nearly sliced off from sharp glass thrown in by the kind of total idiots who do things in this world without caring about the consequences for others. I remember how pale and still she was when our teacher pressure bandaged her before the ambulance took her away.

I remembered how I used to run around barefoot and carefree myself as a teenager, cross-country, in the river, in the billabongs and farm dams. Until one day I stepped onto some splintering wood under the billabong surface, which embedded in my instep. That was a painful experience I never wanted to repeat.

Brett was right. While the chances of injury from a barefoot crossing attempt were small, the consequences of such an injury were prohibitive. We both had to be able to walk back; if one of us got incapacitated, we'd have to call in an emergency rescue team - since we have no 4WD ourselves.

So sadly, we had to turn back, but: Just perhaps, we're going to add jelly sandals to our backpacks for future winter forays onto potentially flooded tracks.

I admit, going back was really anticlimactic. Road To Nowhere played in my head.

It was hot and the sun bit for the first time since April, there was no breeze, and the road was flat and boring. I cursed that - in keeping with Murphy - it was the very last flooded bit that had proved impassable, when we could already hear the ocean. To have come so far, and no scenic picnic - eating our nice food on a road bank next to a swamp.

And then I had a go at changing my attitude, so it wouldn't spoil the outing. Because most of the eastern seaboard is in lockdown, and there are millions of people who would have given a lot to be walking this unspectacular-but-still-very-nice track on this fine, sunny afternoon with the blue sky and fresh air and the frogs croaking from the wetlands and the wildflowers starting to bloom, and a lovely dog and your best friend and life partner beside you.

We usually walk the Bibbulmun, or other coastal or mountain trails, all of which are like something from Tolkien, and it's spoiling us, so that perfectly good scenery can bring on disappointment if we don't watch ourselves. I know I'd cry if I went back to Europe, if I had to live in a city, if I had to live on the West Coast - because I have grown used to living at the edge of the wild, on a spectacular coastline, in a world biodiversity hotspot with ancient flora and fauna. And that's exactly why I need to occasionally adjust my attitude so I can appreciate something non-Middle Earth.

So sometimes, being happy is about consciously looking for things to appreciate, in settings that don't automatically make you go oooh, aaah. This is a good thing to practice - and it's why people keep appreciation diaries, where they have to look for and acknowledge good things about their life on a daily basis. Not to put their head in the sand, but to pull it out, in a way - because often we don't really look, don't really listen, don't really think about it, we take good things for granted, we don't see all the possibilities in front of us, the things we could be doing this day that would add to the happiness of ourselves and others.

And about that 4WD track: Yes, it's long and flat and sandy and comparatively boring, but we'll be back - with mountain bikes, in the summer. We'll ride in (getting off to walk the really sandy, churned-up sections) and this will make the journey in faster and more interesting. And then we can have that picnic at Boat Harbour, and perhaps even have a proper hike on a section of the Bibbulmun.

This is Boat Harbour, from a previous quick stop.

A context shot from slightly further east along the coast, of Boat Harbour and surrounds. Boat Harbour is the natural harbour in-between the two granite headlands in the middle distance.
SueC is time travelling


Since it's back to work since last Tuesday, there is going to be a bit of a hiatus before I post another "new" hiking adventure - we're just doing repeat tracks in our local area. But I'm happy today because the spring planting in the food garden is making significant progress. I've been at this for half a day each day for about a week, when the garden was finally drying off enough after our sodden winter that the back vegetable beds were able to be planted - they're no longer a swamp (but the bottom beds totally are).

This is what I spent most of today on - I should have had a "before" shot - turn this overgrown bed into a weed-free space ready for planting climbing peas, sunflowers etc in front, and potatoes at the back. There was grass halfway up the trellis when I began and it had to be laboriously pulled out from under the wire divider. Either side I'd mowed down first, but still had to remove roots - and if you're European, you may never have had to deal with Kikuyu roots... Kikuyu is an African runner grass that's a pasture mainstay here. It's wonderful in pasture - tough, green through most of summer, roots that go down to a metre. But try removing those roots - and each piece you leave in the soil will grow again. Which is why glyphosate is an essential thing for planting shelter belts back into pasture areas here (there's more toxic stuff on the market specifically for grass control, but despite all the press about it, glyphosate is far less toxic than most other herbicides and isn't residual, only kills the plants you target, and is the treatment of choice for people doing environmental rehabilitation planting in Australia).

Anyway, kikuyu is always getting back into the garden, either by growing runners, or by seed dispersal, so that often, half my garden time can be spent removing this stuff, sifting out the roots etc. After that came the actual trench digging for the potatoes, who like their soil just so... don't be fooled by the shovel, I do this mostly with a garden fork because it aerates and loosens the soil properly. You do trenches, and work the soil in the trenches so that it's nice and loose under the surface, after which I dug in some manure and blood and bone. Then the potatoes went into hollows in the bottom of the trench, and I loosely covered them over again with about 10cm of soil. They will come up in 2-3 weeks and then you can transfer some of the hilled-up soil back into the trenches (which means more potatoes will form in the extra soil).

Another advantage of having them in trenches is that it makes watering easier when you have non-wetting soil, which is a big tendency around here. Trenches encourage the water to soak in instead of run off the surface.

If you wonder why anyone would spend hours digging potato trenches, you've never had a home-grown potato... as huge a difference to supermarket fare as home-grown tomatoes are. The potato taste is through the roof, and because less watery than commercially grown ones, they crisp up incredibly well when roasted... so that orgasmic sounds usually accompany their consumption at our dinner table. This year we're planting Claret (a red-skin, yellow-flesh variety), and Baltic Cream.

And this is what I did last week:

Mulched up the bed in front where the peas, beetroot, broad beans and fennel had miraculously survived being mostly waterlogged for weeks, and planted - you guessed it - potatoes behind. There's leeks at the very end that have been growing all winter.

Yesterday's project is in the foreground - cauliflowers that may or may not head as I couldn't plant them out earlier with the endless rain and bog, lettuces, Wasabi greens (that will take your head off if you put them in sandwiches, excellent experience :beaming-face), a row of turnips (sounds bad, tastes lovely, but then they're not from the supermarket - grew my first ones ever over winter and decided to repeat the experience). I start everything from heirloom seed in the greenhouse, which is why sometimes my timing is still out, e.g. the late cauliflowers...

That little bed took half a day, because to begin with it was a matured compost heap I'd grown tomatoes in last summer, and I had to remove the wire trellis, the weeds, and then the majority of the compost heap (to top-dress grateful fruit trees) before I could plant... and after that I had to mow lawn to get mulch (at least in permaculture, you never do anything for just one reason).

This is how many weeds I removed in just over a week:

On top of that were buckets and buckets of kikuyu, none of which must go in the compost heaps because it completely infests them otherwise, so I feed that straight out to our animals.

Life in the country. Planting always takes longer than you'd think. Really happy with the progress though.
SueC is time travelling


Happy about my recent walk in the woods to find a very beautiful castle (Ruine Blankenhorn):

From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts