It’s wildflower season here in Western Australia!
Wags and I were given permission to camp on a private bush block, fronting the massive Mongers Lake. Mongers lake is 180km in length, absolutely huge. This bush block itself is about 500 acres in size – and it's all non-arable land which means it cannot be cropped. At the time we visited, flowers amassed the ground like a thick, plush rug.
Along the drive were loads of pink and white Everlastings (Rhodanthe chlorocephala for the botanically minded!), to the left and to the right. I particularly enjoyed checking out the old bush rake, stranded artistically beside an uncropped paddock. In it’s day, this bush rake was used to rake straw or crop into neat lines, which made it easier to bale-up the content. These days, it’s glowing-orange rust and aqua paint remnants cast an artistically pretty effect against the equally multi-coloured surrounds of wildflowers, paddock and sky.
Our first glimpse of Mongers Lake was dramatic – as we topped a small hill crest, the fence line to our left extended downwards along a red earthed track, eventually continuing in a straight line across the salt lake. The lake reflected white and blue, and the fence eventually disappeared into the haze caused by the shimmering salt crust.
A fence to where? A fence for what? The imagination fired. Could we walk across and follow it? Would we risk the sinking mud that lurked beneath that enticing salty cover?
We setup camp alongside the lake. We were well and truly in our little camp-establishment routine by now. Wags generally looks to aim the car into the daylight sun so we can setup the solar mat and keep our batteries firing. So once that decision is made, we ‘x-mark-the-spot’ pretty quickly and get cracking. Our reward upon completion is a glass of wine, which we enjoy as we settle in to our new surrounds.
The owner knew we were coming, and paid us a quick visit, offering up a tour of his land. We gladly accepted, and jumped into his farm ute (truck). He pointed out the various sites of rare wildflowers, which he had kindly marked in blue tape to enable visitors to easily find the highlights. He drove over rocks, through scratchy scrub, and along a chicken-track route that he clearly knew very well.
And bless his Wagsy soul! He made me coffee every single morning on this trip! Better than 5-star hotel service, right? I get coffee delivered right to my fingertips and I can sip the entire mug before I get out of bed. Such is life when we have plenty of time!
The heat and wind picked up, which helped to dry our little wet-mess out! We even had a visitor in our tent for a little while there!
We didn't get a lot of wildflower filming or photography done that day due to cloud cover, BUT, that downtime afforded us an opportunity to spot a long line of Processionary Caterpillars, making their coordinated and rhythmical way across the rock, their grey hairs rocking left and right in unison. Those hairs are plentiful, and known to cause harm and pain to animals - “hairy and dangerous!”
Long hairs at the rear of each caterpillar guide the one behind. Followers that lose a connection are reluctant to become leaders, so stalled groups take some time to get going again with a new leader. Sometimes they form a solid mass all bunched up together trying to follow each other, with no one taking the lead.
One wonders how the leader is eventually chosen? What qualities does he or she possess? Or is leadership just random? Food for thought.
We were greeted with an equally spectacular view that evening, as the moon began it’s climb above the horizon. Wags captured some fantastic video footage of the classic ‘stairway to the moon’. My photo attempts left something to be desired..! But hey..I’m still learning!
We were subsequently blessed with a blue sky day, and so the rest of our time entailed exploring and enjoying the flowers in their natural surrounds. For some, we had to climb up a small hill, weaving through scrubs, loose stones and prickles, to experience them. When you have flowers at your feet, a salt-lake at 10 o’clock, and a lush green crop at 2 o’clock, there’s certainly lots to whet the senses.
White Everlastings. Lemon-Yellow Everlastings. Pink Everlastings. White Spider Orchids. Fairy Orchids. Yellow Sun Orchids. Pink Paper Daisies. And lots of other types of daisies. Laughing Leek Orchids. Gosh I’m getting my orchid flower power on! I never realized I had any interest!
Each flower is so very exquisite on it’s own. The Everlastings feel like rice paper to touch, their petals so delicate and dry. When you are greeted with thousands of them all grouped together, it’s hard not to be in awe.
There were some interesting aspects on the property, such as the year-round natural spring, and some aboriginal grinding stones. A large millstone as well as several smaller stones including topstones. Aboriginals used these to grind and crush seeds and other types of edible fruit.
All of our exploration was backdropped with the stunning and natural patterns that a salt lake provides. Since it was windy, the water on the lake moved each day, gradually creeping from the far side of the lake toward us. How about that – a moving lake?! It certainly provided a natural mural for the panoramic passionates!
The lake attracted various birds, including majestic wedgetail eagles, and noisy flocks of galahs and black cockatoos. Their daily flight-paths were similar, incorporating morning and evening low-flies along the edges of the lake, and then across the fence line to the other side.
We awoke one morning to a faint slapping sound. A distant emu was running across the lake. Given the stillness of the morning, the sound echoed over 1km toward us. We froze in awe, watching as the emu sprinted, then walked, and then sprinted again. It was so far away and hard to take photos with my little camera’s zoom maxed out, but you can see the action with what we’ve managed to capture.
We were conscious of the animal tracks around the edge of the lake near our camp, in particular some of the emu tracks that were far enough apart to suggest that the emu had been running right beside our campsite. I guess we slept through that moment!
We also saw dog paws...we thought it might possibly be a dingo, but upon discussion with others more knowledgeable, it was more likely a fox, as the paw prints were quite tiny. Dingoes / Wild Dogs are something I’ve become super cautious about. They have a very dangerous reputation and will stalk you. When the locals are wary, then I am wary too! My night-time pee trips never venture far from the tent, and if Wags and I go exploring, we generally carry 2-way radio so we can stay in contact.
Well it was an interesting couple of days out on Mongers Lake experiencing this spectacular beauty, and we were a bit sad to say goodbye.
The best way to find the flowers is to pop into the local Tourist Information Centre, which can help with recent sightings and also offer up the details of any private land owners who might be happy for tourists to visit or camp. Do enquire about road conditions since the skinny tracks may not suit you if you’re dragging a fancy camper or caravan. Since Wags and I just drive an SUV, we have more freedom with our exploration. Small towns often allow free camping for you to leave your camper…. and there is lots to see if you slow down and take time to see the unique aspects, rather than simply following the well trodden landmarks. Your best information source are the locals – so use them!! I have found them to be passionate about sharing their surrounds.
OK...I’m now off to research some locals and the way that they photograph wildflowers!