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)
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
I rapidly communicated the problem to those standing on the
log behind me,
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.
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.
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
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.
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
54 Hammond Way,Thuringowa, Townsville,
Queensland, Australia, 4815
Phone/Fax 07 47 740 008 International 61 747 740 008
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