10 January, 2011
Kangaroo and Joe shelter from the sun
A kangaroo and joe sheltering from the sun under a Grevellia tree on on of the few and far between sunny days of late.
When you think of Australia you would usually associate it with drought, though that is not the case at the moment. Since the hiking in the Blue Mountains Alex and Ale (friends I'm travelling with) and myself headed inland to Young the self proclaimed 'Cherry capital' of Australia and were greeted by dark rain clouds. This was in the first week of December and not much has changed since then. The ripening cherries, the best crop in years, were just about to split open and go to ruin due to the persistent rain. Grain farmers have also faced an equally bleek year. Fearing a shortage of work decided to drive two days north through the rain to Stanthorpe just across the boarder of Queensland. We are now buissy thinning apples when the rain allows.
Standing stone on Bald Rock and minature landscape creater in one of the many shallow gullies.
Stanthorpe is 900m up on a range of hills called the Granite Belt. These range of hills are the remnants of massive underground magma chambers that cooled to form coarse grained granite boulders that have been exposed over millions of years by errosion. The largest of these is so big it is second only to Ularu. Mysterious balancing rocks and precarious gum trees clinging to cracks in the rocks appeared through the mist. As my few days off are dictated to when ever it rains for now I just have to put on the rain gear and get out there. All though I couldnt see Bald Rock in its intirety as it was shrouded in cloud, the rain creats an eery atmosphere. Cracks and gullies in the rock allow plants to get a purchase and formed wini landscapes, and the colours of the granite cristals shon in the wet and were animated by cascading water across its face.
An orderly row of ferns and Dendrobium speciosum Growing ontop of rounded granite boulders.
In the dripping Gum forest that surround Bald Rock are strewn many rounded balders toped with tough waxy orchids Dendrobium speciosum which unfotunately i missed the flowering of by a few weeks. Cracks between the rocks bring order out of cayos, such as this row of ferns.
Tiny mushrooms at the summit
As the spectacular sceenery was enveloped in a wall of grey, my attention was turned to the smaller details. This tiny group of mushrooms were only bigenough to tupport one raindrop each growing out of a root no thicker than a piece of spaghetti. The boulders in the fore ground are rabbit droppings.
Bedraggled Acacia flowers were one of the few trees in flower and among the stands of Eucalyptus grew a spiny Solanum species, quite incongurus with the other sclerophyll (tough leaved) plants.
Found my car parked in a raging torrent after more heavy rain.
A few days we have been sen home from work early due to storm warnings for fear of the risk of lightening and being pelted by hail stones. Many of the orchards are covered by nets byt this only limits the damage. The region is on the tropic of capricorn but 900m above sealevle so the air is relativly cool resulting in spectacular weather, un less of course you are an apple, peach, strawberry or a farmer that grows them. I gought cought out in one on the highway, the sound on the car was deafenning. Luckilly it skirted the orchard and caused minimal damage to the fruit.
Distant storm clouds and naturalised Verbena bonariensis
The storms do make fore some spectacular sunsets. In the foreground is Verbena bonariensis, an escaped garden plant naturalised along the road side.
The road home, oh deer!
I have also fornd out there is a reason why they advise you not to travel during heavy rain as i found myself the rong side of a flooded gridge after another rainy hike. Some locals in the same predicament as me watching trees float by told me the road round to the north was also cut and to the south was a 300km round trip the may also be cut. So a night in the car it was to be. The water had subsided enough to drive through by five o'clock the next morning after a while spent clearing piled up branches and trees.
I'll take another hike up the rock one sunny evening to get some pics of it in it's entirety.