Can you spot the spider orchids in the main photo?
Wildflower season in southern Australia is often not as flash as it is in other places (I’m thinking particularly of you, Western Australia), as many of our local species are not very showy in the ways we might expect.
Since I was a child, I highly prized the spider orchid, but never had so much opportunity to see them as I have in the West Wimmera, where there are many easily-accessible state parks full of beautiful plants. But how do you find them, when some species can be growing quite thickly yet be barely visible? You have to get out of your car (most of the ‘wildflowers’ you’re enjoying seeing from your car round here are either weed species or native shrubs, such as the very pretty, thickly-flowered Fringe-myrtle (Calytrix) in the main photo), and comb the ground, until you realise you nearly stood on one, and you step back and nearly stand on a cluster of them – suddenly, your eye is tuned in and you can see that they’re all around you!
While showy, with their delicate markings and trailing arms, these spider orchids are also beautifully camouflaged – and they’re really not very big, as the photo with my post box key for reference shows. If I didn’t know where to find them at this spot, I would drive past them every day on my way to work none the wiser. (Thanks to my mum, who happened to find this place and share its location with me.)
This is one of my favourite shots from our recent fog day out – as soon as I saw the TV, this Dire Straits song Money for Nothing flooded my brain. I was glad to have worn rubber boots, so I could wade into the river.
A short walk from the central car park at Halls Gap, I had been wanting to visit Venus Baths since I first heard about that place from a friend last year; like many such wondrous places that one eventually gets around to visiting, I can’t imagine what took me so long. Recent good rains, plus more the previous night, ensured the rock pools and creek were lively with running water. The trail is clearly marked and is, despite there being some steps, easily navigated – as was evidenced by the presence of an enthusiastic mother of a toddler and babe-in-pram.
Along one rock face I was surprised to see text chiselled into it from, I presume, a century ago. Further along the trail I was delighted to find native maidenhair fern growing lushly on the side shaded from the afternoon sun. I am looking forward to visiting again at different times of the year.