Friday, October 14, 2011

Dryandra Woodland

From the coastal plain, over the Darling Scarp and onto the wheatbelt lies a wonderful forest reserve called Dryandra Woodland.  It was our first stop on our 13 day camping trip in the southwest of Western Australia.
What is special about this park, is that less than 3% of the original woodland remains in this productive farming area.  Therefore it is an oasis for all sorts of rare and unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.  The woodland is known for its high concentration of numbats, a squirrel type of ant eater.  Unfortunately, there were no sightings from the Walker family:(   Note: if any Aussie bushman or bush princess notices any errors in our namings, please email us or comment, so we can correct any errors.

Left, is a picture of Wandoo eucalyptus trees, a type of white gum. 
Being that it is spring, all the cold blooded animals are far more visible.  Just in our drive to Dryandra and within the park we saw 5 types of lizards come out and sun themselves.  To the right is a lizard I think is called a spade head?  Below is a bobtail lizard, also called a blue tongue, for obvious reasons.  The video is clumsily shot, but the first few seconds it has the blue tongue out.  The blue tongue is harmless and only opens its mouth when trying to defend itself and scare away predators.  The other types of lizard were goannas - we saw more than a dozen of these giants, and geckos, and skinks.  All too fast for the camera.
We liked Dryandra Woodland very much.  Some people told us that there was nothing there.  As for amenities, they are correct - no shops or hotels, no electricity or showers at your campsite, but that is what bush camping is all about.  It was quiet and secluded.  There are two excellent and interpretive drives around the park, one has an audio tour to listen to on your FM radio and another with signposts at key stops.  There are hikes and walking trails with aboriginal or settler history or facts about animals or nature on plaques to discover.  Below is an old rail siding along an abandoned track come hiking trail.
The highlight of our weekend was the night time walk at Barna Mia animal sanctuary.  With rehabilitation and repopulating in mind, this tucked away rare species enclosure is keeping some species from becoming extinct.  They only offer tours two evenings a week and for the most part keep these nocturnal marsupial mammals away from human contact, so they can naturally fend for themselves.  With a very knowledgeable ranger and a big red spot light we put out a few plates of food to entice sightings.  First one out was a boodie, a kinda small wallaby type marsupial mammal. 

Second pic from our night time walk is of three boodies and a bilby.  Bilby, with their long ears and kangaroo-like hopping legs are one of the only burrowing marsupials.  Decimated during the rabbit plague, when people were putting poison down rabbit holes, but mistakenly many happened to be bilby burrows.  We also saw a woylie, another small wallaby type mammal, but no pictures came out as it was difficult without using a flash.  So when people ask us what we saw in Australia, we can now reply - a woylie, bilby, and a boodie!
Not just a problem in Dryandra, but all other parks and preserves, are introduced species such as the fox and feral cats. In order to combat and control the problem, nature provided a solution - the poison pea, which is flowering above.  It is the main ingredient in a poison called 1080.  Native West Australian animals have developed over many generations a tolerance to this bushpea.  A possum can eat up to 70 pieces of baited meat before getting sick and the same amount would kill 3 foxes!  Below is a fence, when maintened can also be effective.  The picture also show difference between pasture land and bush land

Our tenting campsite.  And many years from now in therapy, Jackson will reveal that in his only childhood toys were rocks.
Mallet forest.  An eucalypt once prized for its high tanin bark used in leather tanning, but nowadays used in making wood tool handles.
In the Dyandra Woodland there are also Mallee Fowl.  An interesting bird that doesn't parent it's young.  The male gathers vegetation from the nearby area to make a very large mound.  He calls the female who lays eggs in the huge nest.  The fermenting vegetation and warmth of the sun keeps the eggs at the right temperature until they hatch and dig themselves out and fend for themselves thereafter. 

The second night we had a thunderstorm and rain, but morning cleared to let us take down camp and drive to our next destination - Wave Rock.

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