Plant Hunting with Angus Stewart and Affinity Tours
10 – 14th October 2018
All inclusive price approx. $2905, 4 night motel accommodation and meals
N.B. Pictures are characteristic of plant varieties found in visited areas at approximate time of year but species and distribution may vary, depending on climatic conditions. Angus Stewart, in conjunction with Affinity Tours Australia, reserves the right to change itinerary and venues, if deemed necessary. This may entail a small change to the tour price.
Day 1 Perth to Hyden
We will pick you up at your hotel, before a relaxed drive through the picturesque Avon Valley. Our journey takes us up from the coastal plains, over the Darling Scarp to the vast plains to the east. This is granite woodlands country featuring characteristic eucalypts such as the wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) and salmon gum (E. salmonophloia) and an understorey of iconic wildflowers such as the blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia formosa) and red and green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos manglesii);
Morning tea will be a roadside stop at a prolific botanical area and, as we will do throughout our journey, Angus will lead you on a journey of discovery and identify and explain the botany and horticulture of the wildflowers we encounter.
We continue our journey through the country known as the Western Australian wheat belt eastwards to Wave Rock for lunch with a brief flora fossick around the base of the rock, searching for the delicate and beautiful orchids of the region.
Spider orchid (Caladenia species)
From Wave Rock it is a short drive to experience an amazing farm where a huge area has been allowed to return to its natural state. The species display has bounced back to once again be a wonderful example of the biodiversity that is characteristic of the wheat belt. We will also see an active mallee fowl nest amongst the wildflowers, another impressive feature as this remarkable bird is now endangered in the wild.
The farm we will be experiencing is a tremendous example of the community spirit of rural Western Australia. The community nearest to Wave Rock, at Hyden have banded together to promote Wave Rock, to run the local hotel and camping ground, and continually strive to improve and revegetate areas of land. We will be staying in this inspiring community at the Wave Rock Motel where you can walk the streets of Hyden to explore the unique rustic sculptures that tell the fascinating story of the local area.
Overnight: Wave Rock Motel
Day 2 Hyden to Bremer Bay
Today will be a very special day of exploring and understanding the Aboriginal culture of Western Australia and its relationship to the amazing flora. We are very lucky to be able to experience areas that have generally not been open to the public previously.
Our morning drive today takes us directly south through the wheat belt to Nowanup, where we are welcomed to country by Eugene Eades, a Noongar Elder (the Noongar are the Aboriginal people of south west WA). The property we will be visiting at Nowanup is part of the ambitious Gondwana Link Project to revegetate previously farmed areas with a goal of creating a bushland wildlife chain that links across southwest WA from the coast to the border.
We will have lunch at Nowanup, with an opportunity to learn about and taste the local bush foods.
Youlk or Ravensthorpe Radish (Platysace deflexa), a local bush food
In the afternoon, we will further explore the uses of the indigenous species, this time with a focus on the essential oils that are a particular feature of the gum tree family (Myrtaceae) and others. The medicinal properties of such species were integral to the Noongar culture and we go on a plant hunting walk to collect native vegetation followed by a workshop on distilling their essential oils. Many of the mallee eucalypts yield oils with antimicrobial properties that can be used to treat a variety of respiratory problems as well as keeping wounds free of infection.
We then head further south to Bremer Bay where we meet the stunning south coast of WA, with its stunning granite boulder landscapes, snow white sands and turquoise seas. This is another of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, and a photographer’s delight.
Day 3 Bremer Bay to Albany
Today we will explore the Fitzgerald River National Park, the centre of the Fitzgerald Biosphere, a title bestowed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation who have named the site among the world’s most significant natural reserves. The reserve includes over dozens of plant and animal species or plant communities that are recognised as threatened. We will see a number of iconic plant species including the Royal Hakea (Hakea victoria), the very cuddly Teddy Bear Banksia (Banksia baueri) and the red kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos rufus).
Teddy bear banksia, with added bear!
Our regular stops for morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea will be in areas of spectacular wildflower diversity to maximise your time to get amongst it with Angus. Angus will be identifying and informing you at every opportunity about why this area is recognised as a world biodiversity hotspot.
The Scarlet Banksia (Banksia coccinea)
We continue our journey onto our overnight stay in the centre of Albany, the first settlement of Western Australia and the second largest city in the state. It is a coastal city that features some beautiful period architecture from its era as Western Australia’s most important port.
Overnight in Albany.
Day 4 Albany to Busselton
This morning we will be exploring the science of Australian plants by distilling the essential oils from plants that we collected on Day 2 with Aboriginal elder Eugene Eades. We will use steam distillation to extract the essential oils of plants such as Eucalyptus and Tea Tree with the objective of giving you an essential oil memento to take home with you. Who knows, we may discover the next great antiseptic for controlling antibiotic resistant bacteria!
We will then travel into the higher rainfall areas of the southwest that support the majestic giant Tingle Forests of the South West, we make our way to Mt Frankland for lunch. The Red Tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii) is a remarkable gum tree in that it forms large buttresses at the base that support the enormous bulk of these forest giants. At our lunch stop at Mt Frankland we will go plant hunting as the vegetation changes dramatically in this tall forest and there are some interesting species that will lead us to amazing views from the lookout across the valley.
A giant Red Tingle tree showing buttressing
Onward travelling, we appreciate the imposing height of the magnificent Karri forest (Eucalyptus diversicolor), one of the most important timber trees of WA along with Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata). We will stop at the historical Diamond Tree fire lookout which is part of a reserve where we can either climb the tree to the fire tower or enjoy the birds and vegetation at the base. Continuing through past and present timber milling areas of dense Jarrah and Karri forest, we make our way to the coastal town of Busselton for our overnight stay.
Overnight at the luxurious Abbey Beach Resort, Busselton
Day 5 Busselton to Perth
Departing Busselton, we head to Ambergate Reserve for a Plant Hunting Walk, along with morning tea. One of the plants we are likely to see here is the Coral Vine (Kennedia coccinea) which is a colonising plant after bushfires, when it creates a carpet as in the photo provided.
Coral Vine (Kennedia coccinea)
We then travel through the remnants of the very rare Tuart Forest (Eucalyptus gomphocephala). Once extensive stands of this majestic eucalypt along the coastal area south of Perth were heavily logged for their highly prized hard, durable timber. The remaining forest is now protected in the Tuart Forest National Park. We then head to Harvey weir for our lunch time stop on the way back to Perth.
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