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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Goulburn River National Park

The better-known Goulburn River in Australia is in Victoria, but the NSW Goulburn flows west to east through the middle of its eponymous national park, one which should probably be better known - but don't tell anyone, I'm happy for us to have it largely to ourselves. It's formed of Narrabeen Sandstone, which is best known as the building material of the Three Sisters to the south-east in the Blue Mountains, laid down under a shallow Triassic sea, some 200-250 million years ago.
Narrabeen Sandstone overlooking forest to the south.

The whole Blue Mountains-Wollemi National Park system is one of the most spectacular and wild in Australia despite forming the distant backdrop to Sydney, Australia's largest city. Goulburn River National Park is the north-western outlier of the whole system, comprising 70,000 hectares of sometimes wildly broken country around the river, and hosting a fascinating blend of coastal sandstone and inland plains birds and animals. Most of it is not accessible to vehicles, but the good gravel road between Merriwa and Mudgee passes south through it. This is the route we took last weekend en route back from Armidale to home, and we made a late afternoon stop to do the lovely short circuit walk through the Callitris pine and ironbark eucalyptus forest to Lees Pinch Lookout.
Black Cypress Pine, Callitris endlicheri, in ironbark forest, Lees Pinch.

You are probably getting the message that I find sandstone landscapes intrinsically satisfying.
In addition however, it produces some spectacular wildflower displays, and this was the best flowering of our trip, throughout most of which the impacts of a dry winter were evident (another El Nino summer is predicted). Even here there were few herbs flowering - no orchids in particular - but the shrubs were looking very good. 

Homoranthes darwinioides (no common name) is the star here for me, as it is rare and
listed as Threatened in NSW, but is common at Lees Pinch.
Spurwing Wattle, Acacia triptera, makes great shelter for small birds. Those phyllodes are as wicked as they look!

Silky Grevillea, Grevillea sericea.

The light was going, but I can never resist boronias (in family Rutaceae, like oranges)
with their unusual four-petalled flowers and often pungent-smelling foliage.
This is Boronia rubiginosa, not one of the commoner species.
Pseudanthus pimeleoides, one of the undisciplined-flowered members of family
Euphorbiaceae (rubber, spurges etc); actually one of the more spectacular
members too.

Blue Dampiera, Dampiera stricta, widespread but always welcome.
For a little more on Dampier, see here, but more still on him in the future!
Make time to drop in here next time you're up that way - even if you're not yet a sandstone aficionado...

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