Spring Gully Conservation Park - Wildflowers October 2011

Monday, Oct 10, 2011 at 19:04

Stephen L (Clare) SA

The now 398 ha Conservation Park was first gazetted as a Wildlife Reserve in 1962. The original Reserve was only just fifteen acres in size and over time the Wildlife Reserve was extended to include the springs that give the park its name. On the 9th September 1976 the Wildlife Reserve was proclaimed as a Conservation Park to protect South Australia’s only population of Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha). The other main species of tree that can be seen, often growing right alongside of the Red Stringybark, is Eucalyptus leucoxylon, the South Australian Blue Gum. The park protects a picturesque, regenerating natural landscape, has a steep, undulating terrain that leads into the creek bed of Spring Gully, and is home to Western Grey Kangaroos, Euros, Common Brushtail Possums, Echidnas, over 50 species of native birds and bats.

Prior to European settlement, the grassy woodland and open grasslands provided an abundance of food for the local Ngadjuri Aboriginal people. With the arrival of the first Europeans into the district in the early 1840’s, it soon became clear that the Red Stringybark was a hard, termite resistant timber and was the preferred local timber for buildings and stock yards and the park was utilized extensively for logging and for stock grazing.

It is believed that thousands of years ago the Spring Gully population became separated from the remainder of the species that still live in the eastern states of Victoria and eastern New South Wales. Over that time, the trees have survived in a healthy state but things have taken a change for the worse in the last few year. During the exceptional summer of 2007/08, the Park was hit very badly with drought and high summer temperatures with heavy damage particularly to the Red Stringybark. It has been reported by a few people that a very high proportion of the Red Stringybark suffered dieback. Many of the effected trees did reshoot and a small number of the trees have not survived. It was believed that if the trees did not rejuvenate and continued to die off at that alarming rate, it could be as quick as a few decades that the Red Stringybark would go from being the dominant tree species in some microenvironments to becoming scattered remnants in only small areas, predominantly with southerly aspects. To add further stress to the surviving trees, a bushfire was started by lightning on the 20th November 2009 during a record November heat wave. Around 1 ha of the Spring Gully Conservation Park was affected by the fire, but because of the slope and gullies of the land, around 4ha of actual timber were affected and burnt.

Today dedicated staff from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, along with the local volunteer group “Friends of Spring Gully”, which are part of the statewide Friends of Parks, are monitoring the state of the park. The Friends of Spring Gully Conservation Park are also actively involved in other projects including walking trail maintenance; flora surveys, weed abatement and even hand pollination the rare White Beauty Spider Orchid in small populations to enhance seed set. As you will see from the many pictures that I have taken, the area is awash with different varieties and colours in spring of the many wildflowers that are very easy to see on one of the great and enjoyable walks that the Park provides. The Cascade walk is an easy walk that will give you an insight into the beauty of the park as well as seeing the waterfall flow if you are lucky enough to be there after local rain.

When growing up, this was one location that was only ever known of by the locals, but over time the beauty of the park has become more publicly known to the greater community. So if you are passing through the Clare Valley and want to see why the area is so special to me, follow one of the well signposted roads from the Main North Road out to Spring Gully. If you are in the area near dusk, the views from the lookout over the pains and the setting sun will make lasting memories for you and you will see why the Spring Gully Conservation Park is so special to the people of South Australia.

The images in this Blog will be divided into two sections, the first being the Wildflowers and the second lot of images will be the intoduced or Weed Plants. All the images were taken over the last three weekends, with the intention of adding more photos over the coming weeks.

Native Wildflowers to Spring Gully Area.

Now for the Weeds. These flowers may look pretty, but they are pests and the Friends od Spring Gully have the very slow job of removing any of these that make their way into the Spring Gully Conservation Park.

Smile like a Crocodile
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