PEAT PICKERS AND POTTERS UNION

Wallaman Falls. Ian Walters

      I had a "Sale", a Forestry permit to collect peat from the tops of fallen trees, when timber was still being cut around Wallaman Falls. "Peat" was a local term for the thick mass of fibrous roots of the fern Polypodium. (An "ideal" topping for baskets and slabs when potting many species, but thats another article we will cover later)

Wallaman Falls So Saturday morning, in Dad's Valiant ute, or the Renault and trailer, or both; it was off to Wallaman Falls, picking up available members of the Union on the way, Ray, Mick, Dave or Charlie in varying numbers.
      First stop; Roma Cafe, Ingham, cappucino, coffee, a table at the front and a view of the Ingham belles parading past, Saturday morning shopping. Then off again to Trebonne, over the Stone River, along the long straight road to the foothills, the road a distinctive landmark from the top of the range. It still is.
      The dry dusty winding road up the range took us to the cool, damp, rainforest on top.
      Here the polypodium fern grew in huge, saucer like masses in the tops of the tall trees. Along the road to the Falls, windfall trees were often found, natural passing of the trees or perhaps the mass of polypodium too heavy for the trees after rain.
      One windfall found was too easy, until a hack at the poly with a cane knife bought forth a large red bellied black snake.
I rapidly communicated the problem to those  standing on the log behind me, 
      "SNAKE!!"

Red bellied black snake    We all rapidly vacated it's territory, at a rate slightly in excess of "rapid". We kept careful watch, red bellied black snakes were quite common, especially in winter when they would sun themselves by the edge of the road.
      Another memorable snake experience was when Dave spotted a large python in the bottom of a gully.

Black Headed Python
      Mind you, we were standing on a log a good twelve feet above it. By the time Dave got to the bottom with his sugar bag, a close up view convinced him he did not really want the python.
     It looked about the size of a fire hose, and as long, from where I stood. But then Dave had a different understanding of snakes to the rest of us and we didn't offer to help.

      There was also the gympie gympie to watch for. The stinging tree was opportunistic, quickly taking advantage of the sunlight where the fallen trees opened the canopy. So did the fire tail finches, often pointed out by Ray who had an interest in birds, feathered. Seen ocassionally were scrub turkeys and a cassowary or two.
  Where the timber had been cut, we found plenty of poly in the tree tops. Also growing there were plants of Dendrobium ruppianum, Dendrobium lichenastrum, Cymbidium madidum, Bulbophyllums and occasionally a plant of  Dendrobium racemosum.  In the small trees on the twigs grew plants of Plectorhiza brevilabre and Oberonia palmicola. Dendrobium linuaforme Var nugenteae
       On to Stoney Creek, source of Wallaman Falls; lunch, a wash in the cold creek water and then a walk along the creek to a rocky outcrop, home for  Pterostylis Baptistii, Pterostylis Hildeae, Caladenia carnea, and a Corybas species and two Acianthus species. Along the road edge grew Thelymitra pauciflora with its pale blue flowers.
  They grew there in profusion, in the wet moss and leaf mould. We checked them out each trip, to see what was flowering.

  In the trees along the creek grew Dend lingueforme var nugenateae,  a few Dend. Bairdianum, Dend. agrostophyllum, and Cymbidium suave. In one spot, on the road to the Falls lookout, were plants of the terrestrial Cryptostylus subulatus.

Dendrobium lichenastrum Var lichenastrum A great day seeing these species growing in the wild and the tremendous Wallaman Falls.
      With a full load of peat, often inhabited by large centipedes we would find later as we picked peat, and a long drive home, we would head for Rollingstone and a quick double sars or similar cold wet liquid.
Who was the Union member who chatted up the barmaid at the Rollingstone Hotel??
I wouldn't dare tell!
Home to unload peat and Union members.

Caladenia carnea Photos:
Wallaman Falls
Red bellied black snake (photo S.Wells)
Black headed python (photo S. Wells)
Dendrobium lingueforme var nugenteae (tongue orchid)
Dendrobium lichenastrm var lichenastrum (tick orchid)
Caladenia carnea (Pink fingers)

    Check list of other orchid species of the Wallaman Falls area:
  • Bulbophyllum johnsonii, Malaxis latifolia, Sarcochilus cecileae,
  • Liparis cunelabris, Calanthe triplicata,
  • Dendrobium speciosum, Acianthus amplexicaulus,
  • Dipodium ensifolium, Zeuine oblongifolia,
  • Spiculeae iritabilis, Cheirostylis ovata.


L to R. Dave Potts, Ian Walters, Ray Robinson, Brian Malpas The Peat Pickers Union

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