And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wheatbelt Adventures

I can't wait for spring to come around so we can head out into the wheatbelt again to get some animal photos and video. The wheatbelt starts about an hour's drive east of Perth, starting once you're past the Jarrah and Wandoo forests. The regional area of the wheatbelt, as the name suggests, has mostly been cleared for agriculture, but still has some wonderful nature reserves with remnant vegetation and wildlife. It ends in the east at the drier goldfields region and that's the area where we often go camping.

This is one of the areas we love to go camping, a rock outcrop at the start of the goldfields woodlands and on the very north-eastern edge of the wheatbelt near a place called Muckinbudin. We just call it 'Mucka'.

One of our usual campsites at Mucka. Lots of rocks to explore for animals and a nice quiet spot where you may not see anyone for a week.

Our standard camp when the weather's fine, just sleeping under the stars in our swags. The swags are fully enclosed against insects when the flaps are open and zip up to become waterproof if it rains. Once a huge thunderstorm came through Mucka one night when we were camped, but we were snug and warm in our swags.

This big skink, a Western Bluetongue (Tiliqua occipitalis) is quite common in some areas of the wheatbelt and may wander into camp looking for anything they can swallow.

Lots of interesting rock structures at Mucka. This one which looks like a huge tortiose shell, has old aboriginal painting inside.

These aboriginal paintings of snakes and hand sprays are found in many big rock outcrop caves in the eastern wheatbelt.

Looking like he has aboriginal paintings on his back, this Western Saddled Ground Gecko (Diplodactylus pulcher) likes the loamy soils of the wheatbelt and arid areas.

Loamy soils in these areas can have Trapdoor Spiders, often in little groups or colonies. Can you spot the spider and it's burrow?

There's the burrow and he (or she) is waiting at the bottom. Great camouflage. The only way to find burrows is to look for leaves in star patterns and faint circular burrow rims.

Another one of my favourites. A beautiful lizard-hunting Jan's Banded Snake (Simoselaps bertholdi) found throughout southern Western Australia and quite common in many sandy areas of the wheatbelt.

This one's not a snake, but a small legless lizard. A Marble-faced Delma (Delma australis) found in the wheatbelt and most of the south-west corner of WA.

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