Maralinga Trip Wildflowers - August 2012

Friday, Nov 02, 2012 at 20:35

Stephen L (Clare) SA

Australian Deserts are very unique and may be Deserts in name, but given the right conditions will burst into life with displays of vivid colours with some very special wildflowers that cannot be found growing anywhere else naturally. Where these very hardy Australian Native plants live and grow, they have to live through very high summer temperatures where daytime temperatures can exceed 50°C and winter nightly temperatures of below zero are very common. Rainfall in most case can be as low as only 200 mm a year or less and can fall at any time of the year, with summer rainfall not uncommon.

When the rain falls during our normal winter seasons, followed by mild daytime temperatures that are usually in the low to mid 20’s° C, the deserts will be transformed almost overnight with colours of whites, yellows and mauves contrasting with the vivid red desert sands that our Australian deserts are famous for. One such desert that is one of my favourites is the Great Victoria Desert, which also happens to be Australia’s largest and the world’s third largest desert only after the Sahara and the Arabian Deserts. The two images below are a very good example of how rain at the right time will transform the desert. Both images were taken at the “Camera Site C” location on the Anne Beadell Highway, around 20 Kilometres east of Emu. The first image was taken under normal conditions when we were out on the Anne Beadell on the 15th August 2010, while on our last trip at the same location and almost 2 years to the day, the second image was taken on the 18th August 2012. Here there were hundreds of acres covered in wildflowers that had germinated and come to bloom around 4 weeks after recent rainfall out in the Great Victoria Desert.

Prior to our trip, I was keeping in very regular contact with Robin up at Maralinga and my often asked question how the weather was and how much rain had fallen in the area recently. Around two weeks before our intended departure date, the Maralinga area had received around 8mm of rain and as Robin put it, “it was just enough to settle the dust”, with the hope that they would receive more substantial rains, which in the end did not eventuate. How much more rain had fallen out in the Great Victoria Desert was an unknown question, but satellite images showed that there were a few sections that had received small amounts of rain.

During the 2 weeks of our trip, I was not to be disappointed, and the further that we penetrated the Great Victoria Desert, the beauty of mother nature became very distinctive with sections of the desert that had received the greatest amounts of rain being transformed into fields of colour, and then as quick as the fields were encountered, the desert would revert back to its usual look where the strips of rain had completely missed those sections of the desert.

The images will be shown under the following sections where they were photographed:

Pinkawillinie Conservation Park

Those that have read my Maralinga Blog will be aware that I took the Buckleboo Stock Route that passes through the Pinkawillinie Conservation Park and it was while driving through this area, we were treated to our first real taste of the local Wildflowers that were in bloom.

Nullarbor National Park

While over on the Far West Coast of South Australia on our way to Maralinga, there were a few very good examples of how these incredible plant species will come to bloom often only metres from the edge on the top of the high cliffs that overlook the Great Australian Bight.

Great Victoria Desert

As we travelled a number of different tracks while in the Great Victoria Desert, I have included these under this general heading, as opposed to the actual images that were taken while travelling along the Anne Beadell Highway.

Anne Beadell Highway

Images in this section were taken while travelling along the Anne Beadell Highway, from around 20 kilometres east of Emu, through to around 10 kilometres west of Voakes Hill Corner.

Voakes Hill CornerCook Track

On our final tracks south through the Great Victoria Desert, we travelled on the Voakes Hill Corner to Cook Track and there were a number of flowers that were seen here and nowhere else in our other sections of the trip.

All the images were taken with a Nikon D7000 DSLR Camera with most images taken using a Nikon 60mm Macro lens, with the remainder with a Nikon 28 – 300 Telephoto Zoom Lens. The only exception was the first image from “Camera Site C” which was taken with a Pentax K 7 DSLR.

I would like to thank fellow EO Member Val for her help in identifying some of the images that I was not able to 100% identify. As I am purely an amateur, I have tried to identify all the images as accurately as possible, so if there are other experts out there that can see any mistakes that I have made, or are able to help identify the images that I was not able to identify; your help would be greatly appreciated.

Stephen Langman

November 2012

Since Submitting this Blog, I am now working with Dr Juergen Kellermann at the State Herbarium of South Australia in the hope to identify the images that I was not able to identify who has positively identified Pomaderris forrestiana, image No 25 - which is classified as rare in South Australia.
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