From Broken Hill we drove to the Flinders Range in South Australia where the dominant trees were Cypress pine and stately gum trees straight out of a Hans Heysen painting. We climbed into Wilpenna Pound and the wildflowers were spectacular: wattles, Dodonaea, Grevillea, Senna and Eremophila. From Port Augusta to Whyalla the country again reverted to wattle, saltbush and bluebush. Eremophilas grow well in South Australian country towns like Hawker and Ceduna. Mallee and wheatfields grow out towards Ceduna.
As we set off towards Norseman (approx. 1,300km from Ceduna) the country gradually became more arid, sparse trees, saltbush, bluebush. The highway only crosses a small section of the Nullabor Plain. Near Norseman the vegetation returned to mallee and there were salmon gums, a beautiful smooth barked gum. Near Kambalda we saw tiny little pink paper daisies, also Dampiera and wild gazanias. Kalgoorlie like most dry area country towns had many coral gums, Eucalyptus torquata.
The plants were striking from Kalgoorlie through the goldfields. Thomasia along the sides of the road, paper daisies and then a spectacular Grevillea eriostachya - a similar flower to Grevillea "Sandra Gordon". It was often a very straggly shrub but very widespread throughout WA. Also many beautiful Hakea coriacea (now included under H.francisiana...ed) as well as Eremophila calorhabdos and the naturally occurring G.hookeriana with black styles. You can stop the car and walk a few metres through the roadside scrub and you can find so many different species.
We drove to Wave Rock through the wheatbelt and saw Grevillea paradoxa, a prickly plant with an interesting flower. We also encountered our first Dryandra and the beautiful pink Isopogon formosus. Along the roadside in the goldfields and wheatbelt are many beautiful specimens of blue Dampiera.
We proceeded north and near the Darling Range Lechenaultia biloba grew along the roadside. The dryandras were the dominant shrubs and the main tree was Marri, Eucalyptus calophylla. We saw white tailed black cockatoos feeding on its large seed pods.
Through Geraldton and impressive stands of Geraldton Wax plants: white, pink and purple (Chamelaucium uncinatum). Also many towns have planted pink paper daisies making a splendid entrance to the towns. On the way to Kalbarri we came across our first banksias: B.ashbyi and B.hookeriana, both with lovely orange flowers.
Kalbarri was one of the highlights of our trip and there were many spectacular plants. We saw Melaleuca megacephala which I have growing (it' s great to see a plant you have growing in its native habitat). M.megacephala grew as a shrub and right down to a small ground cover on the headland above the ocean.
There were many beautiful Calytrix and also Anigozanthos manglesii, Western Australia's floral emblem. Along the roadside grew smokebush (Conothamnus sp.) but the dominant plant was Grevillea leucopteris which is a bushy shrub with a huge flower stalk and a white flower. One of its common names is "smelly socks" because at night time it gives off a strong odour to attract beetles. There was also Grevillea annulifera which is a prickly shrub with pendulous flowers on a large stalk. Another beautiful plant was Beaufortia squarrosa which came in red and yellow forms. The gorges around the Murchison River are magnificent and we climbed down to the river and had a swim.
We continued on north and saw some beautiful red Grevillea dielsiana as well as Grevillea petrophiloides which is a spectacular plant we had previously seen growing along the roadside. The fields here were covered in paper daisies: yellow, pink and white.
At Shark Bay we saw the stromatolites, dolphins and dugongs. The Parks service has a "Project Eden" - they have built a fence across the Peninsular and are trying to get rid of the feral foxes, cats, sheep and rabbits. They then plan to reintroduce some small marsupials which are now only found on some of the offshore islands.
On the way to Perth we stopped at a caravan park near Eneabba where the owner takes people on bushwalks every afternoon. He has a wealth of knowledge on the local plants which were abundant: the beautiful red Verticordia grandis, Conostylis candicans, Lechenaultia, woody pear (Xylomelum angustifolium), WA Christmas bush (Nuytsia floribunda), Banksia prionotes and the catspaw, Anigozanthos humilis. A dominant shrub was Scholtzia with a beautiful pink flower like a Thryptomene.
While in Perth I was able to see the remains of the Spring Wildflower Show in Kings Park over the long weekend. I arrived on the Tuesday morning as they were packing up. They have an excellent site right near extensive plantings of paper daisies and kangaroo paws. The gardens displaying plants from all over WA in the botanic gardens section of the Park were excellent, however other sections of Kings Park were affected badly by weeds. The previous day we took the boat trip out to Rottnest Island and rode around the island on bikes. We saw the small marsupial Quokkas.
We drove on to the south western corner of the state through Margaret River and Pemberton where the karri grow (Eucalyptus diversicolor). They are impressive trees - it's possible to climb the Gloucester Tree which is a fire lookout tree with a ladder made out of metal spikes. Banksia grandis grows extensively in this region of the state and it can have huge yellowish flower spikes.
On the road to Albany is a walk through the treetops on a man made platform in an area called "Valley of the Giants". Growing on the coast near Albany were the beautiful woolly bush Adenanthos sericea and also excellent specimens of Banksia praemorsa. Agonis flexuosa also grows extensively in the south west corner of the state, from a small tree in sheltered locations to low shrub in exposed positions on the coast
We camped for two nights in the Stirling Range and climbed Bluff Knoll. Eucalyptus tetragona grew extensively in this area. Near the carpark grew Kunzea baxteri, Melaleuca diosmifolia and a beautiful Leptospermum. In the Stirling Ranges we also saw the striking Banksia coccinea, Lechenaultia formosa, the ground creeping banksias, the beautiful Dryandra formosa, Isopogon latifolius, Hakea cucullata, Beaufortia decussata and some lovely Calothamnus. Growing with the grasstrees was Kingia australis as well as many catspaws. This area is also famous for its Darwinia sp. or "mountain bells".
After leaving the Stirling Range we visited the Ongerup Wildflower Show where a hardy group of enthusiasts display plants from their local area for three weeks. Some of their local ground orchids were magnificent.
Next stop was the Fitzgerald River National Park and the incredible Hakea victoria. Also evident were red and orange lambertias and Banksia baueri which has a large woolly looking flower. As we drove towards Esperance along the road we saw Anigozanthos rufus, Eucalyptus tetraptera with its thick leaves and large red pod, Eucalyptus lehmannii and the beautiful Banksia speciosa.
Then it was back across the Nullabor and on through New South Wales to home. Near the town of Nullabor we drove to the coast where the southern right whales come to calve during the Antarctic winter. The cliffs along the Great Australian Bight are spectacular and you can look down on the whales which come right up close to the cliffs.