Saturday, August 19, 2017

Diary of a Wannabe Fungi Hunter – Adventures in the North West - Julius River


A bit blurry  - it's drizzling again and I haven't dared to take the new camera out
Day 3 – I restock and refuel in Smithton then head inland to Julius River. There are two ways to get there. At the cross roads it says Kanunnah Bridge both ways, except one sign says 65 Km and the other says 15 Km. Puzzled I take the shorter one. Both are part of the route you can take if you do the Tarkine/ Western Explorer Road which goes through to Corinna and Zeehan in the south.  I am pleased to discover that unlike the rest of that road, both of these appear to be sealed, though the right hand branch which I take is only marginally so. Apart from dodging fully laden log trucks, it’s full of potholes and also has those Devil grids I encountered on the way to Arthur River. They needn’t have bothered. The potholes do the job just as well and I rarely manage more than 20 km per hour. 


A few fungi but lichens and mosses rule here. According to the signage the latter outnumber flowering plants by four to one


The baleful eye of an Earthstar - Geastrum Triplex, peers at me as I step out of the van

Julius River Picnic Area is a delightful spot. Said river gushes alongside it and the weather looks like getting better. One minute it’s dark and sombre, the next minute the sun comes out looking all innocent. That’s spring weather for you.The mosses and lichens certainly love it. Between the showers I venture out to do the walks. It’s wet. It’s dry. It’s wet again, then dry. Raincoat on, raincoat off weather all day. Pretty soon I am soaked to the skin despite the raincoat. I don’t dare get the big camera out. Once again there are amazing bracket fungi and some earthstars Geastrum Triplex. A few weeks ago I had never heard of them but now their big eyeballs seem to gaze at me wherever I go. Note to myself: get a better raincoat and a pair of waterproof boots and I must get out of these wet clothes.

Bright orange bracket fungi steal the show

Planned to call in to Milkshake Hills, another pretty ferny spot once seen dimly in the rain, but the road in is locked and barred due to the devastating bushfires that happened here not last summer but the summer before. Falling trees now make it unsafe and there’s not much left to see. The same has happened to the Wes Beckett Reserve. He was a popular forester in these parts and you can’t get in to the waterfall named after him either. The good news is that the eucalypts are starting to recover.
This is what Wes Beckett  Falls used to look like.

Eucalypts starting to recover after the extensive fires in the summer of 2015
While they can survive a bushfire and some native species need fire to germinate, this is not the case with temperate rainforest species – the sassafras, the myrtles, beeches and the leatherwoods  stay dead and the fire kills their seeds. I did however see Lake Chisholm, a dark sinkhole surrounded by rainforest trees. Quite pretty but a bit sombre so late in the day. I am now on the other road, the long one, but this road is much better and it doesn’t take long to get back to Smithton.

Lake Chisholm at dusk
The rain is really pouring down now. My right hand/driver’s side window wiper has literally tossed its mortal coil and I can hardly see. Sudden gusts blow the van around and there’s a lot of traffic. I decide to pull over in one of the camping reserves between Smithton and Wynyard. My book says it’s only $2.40 per night, ($1.20 for pensioners) and there are facilities. There’s no one else around. I park a few camp sites in from the entrance to wait out the storm.  It rages all night. I can see lightning flashes through the gap in the curtains and hear the thunder roll.  What was it now – count the seconds and divide by 9 and you know how many kilometres away the storm is? In that case it's practically overhead. The trees sway alarmingly. What if one falls on the van? I  try not to think about it - try to read, upload photos until the battery on the computer runs out. In the end I fall asleep. In the morning the sun is smiling as if nothing had happened. I find the camp registration booth on the way out but it’s not $2.40 anymore. It’s $13 a vehicle. Reluctantly I have to leave $15 in notes because I've got no change. I hate to be so tight, but by now I have spent as much as on a budget flight to New Zealand. See your own state first, they say.
I fill up again at the next service station and have the wiper fixed, thanks to a kind stranger who won’t take any money for putting it on. While I look around for some chocolate to give him, he's already out the door.

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