about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

awesome land of gorgeous gorges



They call it the outback, and it's a long way from the city. It took two days travelling to get to the Flinders Ranges. One day by train from Melbourne to Adelaide, half a day to Port Augusta by bus, then another four hours driving to reach our destination.

For a nature buff there's lots to see and experience - wildlife, rocks, gorges, sky, trees, shrubs and flowers.

The easiest animals to see are the large mammals. They're generally shy though, and you have to be quick or lucky with the camera.

Euro, Emu


Without binoculars you tend to hear birds more than see them.

video

Then there are the reptiles, spiders and insects. Even in winter, the flies were so bad, it was either a case of wearing a  head net, or using the  'Aussie salute' - waving your hands in front of your face to stop the bush flies landing on your face or mouth.

unidentified, well camouflaged spider
unidentified ant
Common Glider (Trapezostigma loewii), male

There are also feral animals: rabbits, goats, cats and dogs. These do a lot of harm to native wildlife and vegetation.

In the Flinders Ranges there are rocks so ancient they help us to understand the distant history of the planet. Most of the rocks were laid down in the sea 500 to 1500 million years ago.





Millions of years later, about 60 million years ago, the mountain plateaux we see today were formed, and continue to change and evolve.


There are a profusion of trees, shrubs and flowers - all evolved to flourish in a dry arid or semi-arid climate.

Clockwise from top right: Echium lycopsis - Salvation Jane,
Asphodelus fistulosus - Onion Weed,  
Rumex vesicarius - Ruby Dock - introduced weeds.
Clockwise from top right: Eucalyptus socialis - Red Mallee, 
Acacia tetragonophylla - Dead Finish, 
Callitris columellaris - Native Pine, Solanum quadriloculatum- Tomato Bush
Olearia pimeleoides ssp. pimeleoides - Showy Daisy Bush
Pilotus obovatus var.obovatus - Silver Mulla Mulla 
Solanum quadriloculatum- Tomato Bush and Senna artemisiodes - Desert Cassia

It rarely rains, and everywhere you see dry creek beds. In the extremely rare occurrence of torrents of rain, the creeks and rivers fill up and there are floodplains as far as the eye can see. When we were there we saw little water.


Dry creek beds lined with River Red Gums - Eucalyptus camaldulensis

Drinking water is obtained from tanks that collect rain water.

Along the Hans Heysen trail, Parachilna Gorge
Dry dusty road

For other uses of water, for sheep and cattle and for washing, bore water is pumped from below the surface of the earth.


Aboriginal people lived in the Flinders Ranges for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, and left behind numerous examples of rock art.

taken from Flinders Ranges Research 

When white people settled, they cleared the land for mining, pasture and stock, and many trees were chopped down to provide timber for use in building and in mines.

Today part of the Flinders Ranges is conserved and protected as a National Park, and tourism is a profitable industry. But we mustn't get complacent. Mining and development companies are formidable lobby groups.  Brown coal is still mined in nearby Leigh Creek. So hopefully the area will stay wild and natural for a long, long time.

29 comments:

  1. Dear Sue,
    thank you so much for your lovely visit and your charming words! What wonderful pictures of a great scenery you share! I love to travel but also love to travel in my living room! Have never been on this part of the world so I'm realy hapyy to see these beauty on your blog!
    Have a wonderful time
    Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased you liked the post, Elisabeth.

      Delete
  2. I have always wanted to visit Australia! Thank you for a peek at a part of this magnificent country. The rock formations and the aboriginal art are fascinating. I was also interested to see the lovely wildflowers that flourish dispute the lack of rain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dear Deb, In Port Augusta there is an arid botanical garden. I haven't managed to get there, but it's on my wishlist. There are so many plants that thrive without much water at all.

      Delete
  3. Lovely pictures of flora and fauna of the unspoiled land of Australia. Thank you for showing us your beautiful country on this blog so that we can enjoy it on the other end of the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Janneke, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's not totally unspoiled, but it's still wonderful.

      Delete
  4. Hello Sue Catmint! Wonderful pics. The gorge looks rather dry but the floras look like they are coping well. I hope the people living there has plenty of water to use. Recently we had a drought and we were so worried for the water supply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Steph, water is a real problem in Australia, especially for people who live in the arid centre. That's why all the large cities are strung out along the coast.

      Delete
  5. Great tour! What a beautiful, dramatic landscape. And the wildflowers are so pretty! Australia is definitely on my "wish list." I hope I have a chance to visit someday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Beth, I hope you have a chance to visit too. It's a long way to travel, isn't it?

      Delete
  6. Wonderful to see your country through your lens, I love all the different rock formations. Seeing your native plants in their natural habitat is wonderful, they look so happy together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Pauline, I feel like doing a crash course in geology, to understand the different shapes and colours of the rocks. Those native plants do look good, but there are quite a few introduced weeds that have also made themselves at home.

      Delete
  7. It's all so different. But that's no wonder, since it is so far away from here. Can you tell me what the red soil in the first photograph is called? I knew it but I forgot. The flower of the tomato bush looks a bit like the flowers of the aubergine on my balcony.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denise, I think you mean ochre. The soils are often red or yellow because they contain iron oxide. Tomato and aubergine are related, both are species of the nightshade or Solanum family. This one's more commonly called Bush Tomato here, to distinguish it from the commonly grown tomato.

      Delete
  8. Catmint - Those dry creek beds really cranked up my Rock Envy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, you're so funny ... if you're into RE, lots to be envious of in that part of the world!

      Delete
    2. Catmint - Rock Envy is a SERIOUS condition. :)

      Delete
  9. Your country is one of the most amazing places on earth as it shows the birth and history of the whole world....I have always been fascinated and this was a fab tour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Donna, I had a fab tour, and loved sharing a bit of it.

      Delete
  10. I enjoyed seeing your photos of south Australia. So interesting. And interesting to see the plants that have adapted to the arid region. We in California have adopted many plants from Australia, although eucalyptus is the one most familiar to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it was inspiring to see how these plants grow in such an inhospitable environment, I think they do it by putting down a long tap root.

      Delete
  11. I missed this, but thanks to Faisal's blog roll, I've caught up.
    Weedy Salvation Jane and Solanum, rock art, spectacular landscape. So much we have in common, and yet, yours has a different beauty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Diana, so pleased you caught up, I'm not blogging so often or regularly these days, so I'm sure it's easy to miss posts. There is something distinctive about the Australian outback, even if the climate shares a lot with other places. It does look different to your SA landscape, but I'm not sure how to express the difference in words.

      Delete
  12. How spectacular! Nature is indeed incredible creating such dramatic landscapes, and as you say they are still evolving. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Paula, so pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Delete
  13. I've only ever visited the outback in the movies. It always looks so desolate. But it actually looks quite similar to southern California. It's beauty is rendered sharper through its starkness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does California have the red earth? I always thought that is what makes the Australian landscape distinctive.

      Delete
  14. Your pictures are so stunning, I can't think of suitable words to comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Rick, I tried really hard with my photographic technique.

      Delete

Popular Posts