ON THE ROAD — X marks the spot as commercial aircraft con trails cross above the Arid Lands Botanic Garden at Port Augusta. Later that day the temperature hit 44 degrees centigrade.
ON THE ROAD— Late afternoon and an unusual skyscape above the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta, about 300km north of Adelaide. The afternoon was very hot and very humid and it looked like a storm might eventuate overnight. No storm, just rotten weather for sleeping brought on by the build up to full heatwave conditions the next day.
ON THE ROAD — Big trees and a little camper. We took delivery of our tear drop camper in Adelaide and yesterday we stopped for lunch at Poocher Swamp just out of Bordertown, near the South Australian/Victorian state borders. The trees are Red River Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and these are the dominant species at the swamp. These are not the biggest of their species at Poocher. One appeared in a news report in 1966 as measuring 10.5m in circumference and another was said to have a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 3.34m. The hydrology of Poocher Swamp is unusual and signs warn of the dangers of “runaway holes”. After good seasons Tatiara Creek quickly refills Poocher swamp and when it reaches a sufficient level it starts to flow quickly underground down these “runaway holes” which deliver surface water to aquifers. Some holes are permanent, but others can appear at random. When the flow is too much for these to absorb, outflow from the swamp goes downstream to Scown’s Runaway Hole. In floods in 1981 this hole was taking in water at a rate of 4,500 litres per hour.
ON THE ROAD — The Spiny or Jewel Spider (Austracantha minax) is found throughout Australia and exists in a variety of coloured forms, but always with a shiny, enamelled look. It’s only a small spider (females 10mm and males 3mm) but is common in brush and low scrub, anchoring webs between neighbouring bushes to snag passing insects. Each individual builds its own web but they often build close together so the webs are more or less inter-connected.
ON THE ROAD — We met the male Golden Whistler (Pachycephela pectoralis) in low scrub outside Tintinara and two days later saw the female of the species on a sandy ridge in Ngarkat National Park.
ON THE ROAD — on the way from Adelaide to Melbourne we took a little detour to visit the Ngarkat National Park which sits on the South Australian/Victoria border. Very few plants were in flower — we’d missed the nectar laden stems of the yakka grass tree and Banksia ornata was just coming into flower. We did see this white-eared honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucatis) waiting for better times. The flowering cones of Banksia ornata are a major food source for the two species of pigmy possums to be found at Ngarkat.
ON THE ROAD — The Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is a bird of rainforests, palm forests, dense gullies, clearings, and parks and gardens from Cairns south along the East Coast. With the temperature hitting 37 degrees Celsius in Melbourne today this pair came to sit out the heat of the day in a gazebo in Hurstbridge.
ON THE ROAD — Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillarus) in Alice Springs.
ON THE ROAD — The Sandhill Native Fuchsia (Eremophila wilsonii) extends a purple “tongue” to advertise the presence of nectar and one of Australia’s many species of large solitary bees takes up the offer. Found at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta.
ON THE ROAD — In the 1930s Lake Hart, not far south of Woomera, produced 9000 tonnes of the finest salt each year. The commercial operation failed because of the continuing difficulty of sourcing water to process the product, and the tyranny of distance from market. Today the Ghan railway runs beside the lake … but it doesn’t stop. The amazing sight of nearly 30km of brilliant white salt flats makes for a brief stopover for road travellers but there is little to linger for.