Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blue Mountains excursion

Today's adventure was a field trip to the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. We met up with some other turners at Dick Turner's house. Dick is a retired forester who offered to take me botanizing so I could get an introduction to the flora of Australia. We had three car loads of people along. I rode with Dick Turner, Gordon Ward and Robert Jones. Gordon also has a forestry background, so our car was the "botanist" car.

We went to Mt. Wilson to look at the rainforest biome and on the way we were able to look at a dryland forest. The difference in these vegetation zones has to do with the soil substrate. As you go up in elevation you change from sandstone to basalt rock. The rainforest is restricted to the basalt substrate.

The sandstone outcrops remind me of Table Mountain Sandstone group in South Africa. It's wonderful climbing rock, and I enjoyed scrambling around on the outcrops. I would have enjoyed spending a few hours climbing and exploring the flora, but that wasn't a good plan for the day. Guess I'll have to plan on coming back sometime while I'm still able to climb.

Here are some pictures from the day:

This is from our first stop. The Blue Mountains aren't particularly high in elevation (about 1000 meters or so), but they are typical erosion mountains and the valleys are spectacular. The forest in the background is dryland eucalyptus forest with mesic forest around the streams. I went out to the edge to look down.

Silky oak is in the Protea family, and it's one of the woods that many turners are allergic to. It's a lovely tree, but I think I'll avoid it as a turning wood.

This is the state flower of New South Wales. The aboriginal name is Waratah. It's another kind of protea, and it's very beautiful.

That's me with the waratah.

We walked around in the rain forest at Mount Wilson. I've never seen so many species of tree ferns in one place. This one was about 35 feet tall. We also saw a large variety of eucalyptus trees, banksia shrubs, acacia trees, ferns, legumes, orchids, and a lot of other plants. It was pretty cool.

These are some of the people on today's excursion. L to R: Dick Turner, Ernie Newman, Robert Jones, Gary Sanders, Gordon Ward, and Theo.

Same crew, except Theo took the picture. We're sitting on a "brown barrel" eucalyptus that has fallen across a stream.

This is an overlook of one of the erosion valleys. Notice the erosion patterns in the sandstone? There were a lot of interesting swirls and eddy erosion features in this rock.

This is a view of bridal veil falls at Govett's Leap in the Blue Mountains National Park. The falls are at the bottom of the "U" valley.

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