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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'.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bomaderry Regional Park; a Nowra gem

I'm just back from an enthralling but sometimes demanding five weeks in South America (northern Peru and Brazil's Pantanal), and am still trying to catch up at all levels. I haven't been able to start processing my photos yet, so today's post will be about a favourite reserve of mine, but one probably unfamiliar to anyone who doesn't know the New South Wales south coast town of Nowra. Actually Nowra is not really on the coast, but some 13km inland on the Shoalhaven River, and most people know it from driving through along the highway from Sydney to the south. It's fair to say that this impression is of an extended suburban and industrial sprawl of 35,000 people, and is not very enticing.

However, due to close family ties there, I've got to know the Nowra area well, and Bomaderry Creek in North Nowra is a favourite area where I often walk.
There are two obvious habitat types in the reserve, both defined by the underlying sandstone; here
the mighty Sydney Sandstone region, which includes the Blue Mountains, reaches its southern limits.
One is the Bomaderry Creek Gorge (above) which one of the walking tracks follows. This is best
accessed from Narang Road, west of the highway in the Bomaderry section of northern Nowra.

The other is an extensive area of dry eucalypt forest above the gorge, which we often enter from
West Cambewarra Road off Illaroo Road just north of the Shoalhaven River.
Under New South Wales legislation a Regional Reserve is often smaller than a national park (Bomaderry Creek is just 82 hectares) and is available for some recreational purposes not available in national parks. For instance dogs are permitted at Bomaderry Creek (if leashed, of course) but in practice we rarely encounter other walkers, especially in the dry forest areas.

In the circumstances (including my somewhat debilitated state at present!) I think that a simple photo essay will be sufficient to introduce to you the attractions of the reserve, starting with the gorge section.
Bomaderry Creek dominated by Water Gum, or Kanooka, Tristaniopsis laurina.
 Cabbage Palm Livistona australis growing in the creek line.
Down in the gorge it is much cooler and more sheltered than it is up in the forest,
even in summer.
This is especially true of the extensive sandstone shelter which overhangs the track near the end of
the walk (if doing it in the clockwise direction).
The dominant eucalypt is the lovely Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata.

Lithophytic orchids grow on the moist rock walls.
Autumn Bulbophyllum Bulbophyllum (or Adelopetalum) exiguum. The tiny flowers are only 10mm across.

Streaked Rock Orchid Dockrillia (formerly Dendrobium) striolatum.This is an abundant rock orchid, flowering, unlike the previous species, in spring.
Velvet Mint Bush Prostanthera incana, also likes the sheltered conditions of the gorge.
Rock Isotome Isotoma axillaris also likes the rocks, but seeks sunny sites near the top of the gorge.
Which of course leads us up to the open forest, where the most dramatic flowering can be found.
Wombat Berry Eustrephus latifolius is a vine with orange berries - which may be attractive to wombats,
but I'm not aware of it! It's a lily, now placed in the big family Asparagaceae (formerly in Philesiaceae).
Sweet Wattle Acacia suaveolons brightens the bush in winter.
Hairpin Banksia B. spinulosa is another winter bloomer (actually it flowers from autumn to early
spring), which is pollinated largely by small mammals.

Heath-leaf Banksia B. ericifolia, also found mostly in autumn and winter.



Mountain Devil (for the shape of the woody fruit, below) Lambertia formosa on
the other hand flowers for all the year except winter.


Larch-leaf Trigger Plant Stylidium laricifolium; this one has been 'triggered', ie its
style has whipped up to deliver pollen from an insect (or probably collect it in this case).
Milkwort Comesperma ericinum, family Polygalaceae.
Daviesia squarrosa, a locally common prickly pea shrub.
Another spiky one; Silky Hakea H. sericea.
Guinea Flower Hibbertia sp., Family Dillenaceae.
And of course there are orchids, especially in spring and summer; here are a couple.
Spotted Sun Orchid Thelymitra ixioides (and yes, I know this one is spotless!).
Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium variegatum.
A spectacular big orchid, and one of the few to flower after Christmas.
Red Beard Orchid Calochilus paludosus; always a favourite of mine
(though my beard is scarcely red these days...).
And of course there are animals, though given the recent plethora of birds on this blog, I thought I should go light on them today!
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae fledgling. This chick, belonging to the world's largest cuckoo species,
was probably raised by raven, butcherbird, currawong or raven host parents.

Brown Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia phasianella.
Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus emitting his glorious territorial song.
Southern Water Skink Eulamprus heatwolei; often found along the creek.
Lace Monitor Varanus varius trying not to be noticed; not so easy when you can be two metres long...
I really hope that you have been inspired to drop in to Bomaderry Creek if you're in the area; you might even run into me there...

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2 comments:

Flabmeister said...

You said "...and most people know it from driving through along the highway from Sydney to the south." Given the speed at which one is able to drive through in my experience (~ 5kph) you do at least get a chance to look closely at the parts of Nowra alongside the Highway. And consequently plan your next trip along a better route - possibly involving Goulburn which is only 10 minutes longer from Sydney GPO to Batemans Bay.

Some parts of Nowra which we have explored are quite charming but the commercial centre is a contender for the worst development in Australia.

Fortunately it would look as though economics would ensure that any thoughts of a by-pass (which must be bubbling in the community) would probably go to the East of the town.

Martin

Ian Fraser said...

Unfortunately, to the east of town are dairy farms; to the west is (inter alia) Bom Ck Regional Reserve... That has been bubbling indeed, but I think the proposal has died down for now. Yes, re commercial centre!! However the Nowra Fresh markets, on the east side of the highway just south of the bridge, are excellent. Fascinating ob re the driving times from Sydney to BB! But I guess I'm unsurprised.