Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Monday, 17 October 2016

Meeting a Bilby in the Dryandra Woodland in Western Australia's wheatbelt

Stop press! It has just been announced that Dryandra is to become Western Australia's next National Park. You can read more and see a short video here - National Park for wheatbelt


We first camped in the Dryandra Woodland in the heart of the Western Australian wheatbelt in 2005.  We’ve enjoyed revisiting a few times since then - tented, camper trailer - I've blogged about Drayandra before - Camping in the Dryandra Woodland  (2015)

Most recently in September 2016 with our caravan - but is that really camping? I haven't decided yet. Only two hours from our home in the south-west or from Perth, Dryandra is a perfect weekend getaway. You can be there by lunch time, and be walking along one of Dryandra’s walk trails by early afternoon. 


There are three camping or accommodation options. Our preference is the original Congelin campground located near the old Congelin Dam and railway walktrail. The sites are partly shaded and are suitable for tents, camper trailers, caravans and group camping. The basic facilities include fire-rings, picnic tables, gas BBqs under a shelter and long-drop toilets. I like the free-flow of the Congelin camp sites which are not so well defined and the views over the grass through the trees to the old railway walktrail which takes you to the old railway dam. This is an easy walktrail which is lovely in the early morning or late afternoon.

The new Gnaala Mia campground  located on Godfrey Road, one kilometre west of the York-Williams Road, has twenty-seven gravel formed caravan bays and eight tent sites arranged around two separate loops, though please note that the "tent" sites are also gravel. You can see a map and images below. Facilities include eco toilets, gas BBqs under shelters with picnic tables and sink. Each campsite has a picnic table, log benches and an open fire pit. 

Alternatively visitors can stay in former forestry huts at the Lions Dryandra Woodland Village.  I think we might try these out on our next visit.

Below, top left you can see the new Gnaala Mia campground, and top right and bottom the Congelin campground.  


Gnaala Mia campground
Dryandra’s 28,000 hectare reserve is managed by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (DEPAW).  With less than 10% of the wheatbelt’s native vegetation remaining, Dryandra is a valuable conservation area for wildlife and flora as it is one of the largest remnants of original bushland in the wheatbelt.  For people Dryandra is a wonderful places to camp, picnic and bushwalk, especially during spring when the wildflowers are at their most brilliant. 

Extensive clearing for farming and introduction of exotic plants, diseases and predators such as the fox have severely affected native plants and animals. DEPAW’s Western Shield project, “Return to Dryandra” is re-introducing endangered species through breeding programs and fox-baiting. Dryandra’s woodlands protect 24 mammal, 98 bird and 41 reptile species, including mammals such as the woylie, western grey kangaroo, tammar wallaby, echidna and numbat. 
Clockwise from top left - Western Australia's animal emblem, the numbat (you have to be very lucky to see one!), a western grey kangaroo with joey in her pouch, an echidna, a bobtail goanna.


 I think the echidna below is saying "you can't see me!". We saw several echidnas on our last visit. They tend to curl up into a ball and hunker themselves down into the top layer of soil when you approach them. Those long spines are a protective mechanism. Their body length is 35-40cm, and they weigh about 2-7kgEchidnas are insectivores and eats ants and termites. Echidnas are one of only two Australian mammals that lay eggs. The baby hatches after 10 days and is carried around by the mother for two months in a pouch-like skin fold. This baby is called a ‘puggle’. Don't you just love that name "puggle". 

You can read more about the echidna, plus see a short video about a puggle here - Perth Zoo - Short Beaked Echidna

You can't see me!
Echidna at Dryandra
On our last visit we joined the nocturnal night tour at the Barna Mia Sanctuary. This tour is a unique opportunity to observe threatened marsupial species such as the Bilby, Boodie, Woylie, and Mala at close range. The tour leader lead us by torch light around the sanctuary's paths. At designated spots we stopped and sat on logs and food was put down for the animals which are all nocturnal. They are obviously well used to this as they were quite happy to come out and feed. The red light protects their eyes against "night blindness" from an ordinary torch light, but is not so good for photography, so I converted some of my photos to black and white.  In the picture below you can see a Bilby - with the long ears. I'm not sure now whether the other animal on the right is a Boodie or a Woylie. The tour doesn’t run every evening and bookings are essential, so please refer to the information boards to book a tour. 

This was the first time I had seen a Bibly close up - so exciting. They are about the size of a large hare - about 29-55 cm with a 20-29cm tail. They are omnivores and eat insects, seeds, bulbs, fruit and fungi.
You can read more about the Bilby and view some short videos here - Perth Zoo - The Bilby

Bilby and friends at Barna Mia, Dryandra
There are eight walk trails in Dryandra suitable for all levels of fitness, ranging from one to thirteen kilometres and a 25-kilometre audio drive. The trails feature diverse vegetation including white-barked wandoo, powderbark, brown mallet and rock sheoak woodlands. During spring, when we were visited the woodlands are ablaze with colour. Information panels along the way tell you about the environment, plants, animals and history. The Ochre Trail describes Noongar culture and features an ochre pit used by Aboriginal people for decoration. 
 
There is a picnic area located at the Old Mill Dam which is also the start of the 2.7km Wandoo walk and the 5.5km Woylie walk. 
Below you can see views along the Ochre Trail, including views over wheatbelt farmland, and a teepee! 


In the early 1900s bark from the naturally growing brown mallet trees was extensively harvested. The bark contains high quality tannins used for tanning leather. Between 1925 and 1962 the mallet plantations supplied bark for this industry. During the Depression 19,000 acres of mallet were planted. The industry ceased in the 1960s due to the development of synthetic tannins.  In 1970 Rupert Murdoch bought land, including Dryandra, planning to mine for bauxite. Naturalist and conservationist Vincent Serventy was able to dissuade Murdoch from mining and the reserve was given over to conservation.  Thanks to Vincent's passion and Murdoch's generosity, Dryandra is now a place where animals and plants are protected and people can enjoy the natural environment.


I must say I love bark.....


During spring the woodlands erupt in a profusion of wildflowers including the prolific yellow Poison Bush (Gastrolobium) and many varieties of Dryandra. The Poison Bush is a member of the pea family and contains a toxic substance that when synthesised is called ‘1080’. The poison bush has no effect on native animals, but 1080 is used in baits to control feral animals such as foxes. On the Barna Mia tour we were told that they are currently developing a bait for wild cats which are very destructive to our small native animal and bird populations

Below are just some of the wonderful array of wildflowers you will find at Dryandra in spring.
Poison bush - Gastrolobium
some of the many varieties of Dryandra
 Curiously I have just read that Dryandras have now been renamed Banksias as new studies have revealed that Dryandras are actually a type of Banksia. You can read more about it here - Florabase - Dryandras and Banksias

Coneflower - Isopogon
Red Leschenaultia - Lechenaultia formosa
 And below an exciting new find for me - Grey-leaved Bottlebrush - Beaufortia incana - listed in my wildflower book as uncommon.

Grey-leaved Bottlebrush - Beaufortia incana

An easy 1.6 kilometre walk trail starts at the Congelin campground and follows the old Pinjarra to Narrogin railway line constructed in 1925. Interpretive signage describes sites along the way including the old water tank stand and other interesting historical relics. In spring look out for Cowslip, Spider, Dragon and Blue China orchids along this trail. 

A good tip here would be: bring along some insect repellent and wear long sleeves as the mosquitoes are a little too friendly beneath the sheoaks where the orchids are. 

Below clockwise from top left - Sugar orchid (Caladenia saccharata), Vanilla / Lemon-scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera), one of the spider orchids,  Dragon Orchid(Caladenia barbarossa), I "think" the blue one is a Blue China orchid (Cyanicula gemmata), and another of the spider orchid family - of which there are many so very hard for me to identify these. 

Dryandra orchids
During the evening you may see possums in the campground, but please do not encourage them by feeding them, or leaving food outside, and zip up your tents. 

Dryandra is only a few hours from major centres, making it an easy to get to destination for a restful weekend getaway.

FACTS BOX:
Where is it?: On the Williams to York Road.  Approx 164 kms south-east of Perth (2 hours) and 22 kms north-west of the town of Narrogin. Turnoff to the Congelin campsite is on the eastern side of the road. Roads are Dryandra are gravel, but were in very good condition when we visited. Gnaala Mia campground is located on Godfrey Road, one kilometre west of the York-Williams Road.
Best time to visit: Late winter and spring. Summer not recommended.
Facilities:  Long-drop toilet, gas BBqs, picnic tables and fire rings. No power. Please bring all your own supplies, water and firewood, be aware of fire restrictions and take away your rubbish.  
Walk trails: Check Information boards for walk trail distances, estimated walk times and degree of difficulty. 
Campground rates at the time of writing:
Poison bush - Gastrolobium
$10 adult per night, $6.60 concession card holder per night, $2.20 child per night (over 5 and under 16 years)
Pets: Not permitted due to wildlife conservation and  possible poison baiting
Wheelchair access: Nothing specific
Lions Dryandra Woodland Village offers a range of accommodation; 6 large huts, 2 small huts and the Currawong Complex for groups of 25 or more. Please refer to their website for bookings.


Useful Websites: 
WA Dept of Parks and Wildlife – www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/dryandra-woodland
Dryandra Tourism: www.dryandratourism.org.au
Lions Dryandra Village: www.dryandravillage.org.au

Barna Mia: Telephone for bookings: 08 98819200 (Bookings are essential but you will have to drive up to the top of the hill east of the Dryandra Village to get mobile phone coverage. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little visit to Dryandra. Do you have a favourite camping spot where you like to revisit? Perhaps you'd like to tell us about it in the comments. 

These spider orchids are so tiny!
 I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday 
Life Thru the Lens 
Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday
Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday

Travel Photo Thursday
The Weekly Postcard

35 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful area with unique and wonderfully diverse flora and fauna! Love all of your photos of the bark and wildflowers. Amazing to see the echidna up close (the spikes look so sharp!). Thank you for the tour and all the information Jill, I must find a way to make it to Australia one day :)

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    1. Life Images by Jill21 October 2016 at 10:58

      yes you must Catherine!

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  2. Dryandra looks and sounds absolutely amazing, there's so much in your post which not only informs but also delights! So many animals and plants that I've never heard of let alone seen, thank goodness Murdoch changed his plans for Dryandra and it can continue to thrive and bring pleasure for many years to come.
    I almost forgot to say how stunning your photography is and what beautiful mosaics they make.
    Thank you for taking us on your travels again on Mosaic Monday.

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  3. You have there such special flora and fauna - interesting indeed. I think I have to google for more information - never heard of echidna for example. The protection of the dangered species is imortant and a great thing. Your photos are beautiful as always - thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Riitta. I've added a couple of links to info about the echidna and bilby. Yes we have some really unique fauna and flora in Australia.

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  4. Very interesting post and beautiful photos. It looks like a great place to stay.

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  5. Definitely a different landscape and wildlife than what we see here in Oregon!

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  6. Jill, Thanks for sharing those wonderful flora and fauna photos of your area. Sylvia D.

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  7. Puggle is a wonderful name for a baby echidna. You have such unique and interesting flora and fauna - loved seeing these. Camping is a great way to get out there and get close to nature.

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    1. LIfe Images by Jill21 October 2016 at 11:00

      absolutely Lorrie, I agree, you can really enjoy the environment when you are camping.

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  8. Ahh absolutely love the Dryandra and your photos brought back some lovely memories. Getting up close to a bilby at night was magical. Love the pics of the Echidna's. Such strange looking creatures. We stayed at the cabins for a weekend - they were also very nice if you don't want to camp and not expensive.

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    1. Life Images by JIll21 October 2016 at 11:00

      Thanks Jo. We haven't investigated staying in the cabines, but they certianly look like a great option.

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  9. Beautiful and adorable shots!

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  10. How exciting to see a bilby in the wild. I have seen plenty of echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and even wombats in the wild, but never a bilby. Fabulous photos as usual Jill. :)

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    1. Life Images by JIll21 October 2016 at 11:02

      yes this Bilby was my first - other than in the nocturnal house in the zoo behind a glass wall. Well this not exactly in the wild, but not behind a fence when we met them either. I was surpised how big they are.

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  11. Such a beautiful place! Great shots!

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  12. Thanks for all the wildlife photos. I would like to see an echidna in the wild. I have seen kangaroos and platypus in Australia.

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  13. Wonderful post and fantastic photos of nature and love the critters! Thanks!

    Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

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  14. Wow beautiful and interesting images especially the echidna

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  15. That's a lot of critters and flowers! I love tiny little blooms like your spider orchid.

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  16. Oh, I love the word "puggle" --so cute! Your post is so full of interesting info; this would make a great resource for anybody wanting to visit W.Australia!

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    1. Life Images by JIll21 October 2016 at 11:03

      yes puggle really is a cute name isn't it. I wonder how they thought up that one.

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  17. So fun! I love seeing Australia through your eyes and how amazing this planet is!

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  18. Looks like a beautiful place to spend a few days, Jill. Your flower shots are gorgeous. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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  19. Such as informative post. I'll be saving it to my Australia and New Zealand Pinterest Page. My favourite photo is the grey leaved bottle brush. Oh and the pink Dryandra (Banksia). I've seen Echidnas roll themselves into a ball in my childhood, but haven't set eyes on one since, plus I've never seen a Bilby in real life. Lucky you.

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    1. Life Images by Jill21 October 2016 at 11:06

      I thought the grey leaved bottle brush was so Christmassy looking. I just love seeing flowers I've never seen before. And the coneflowers were really magnificent.

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  20. While I'll likely never get there, I feel good knowing there is a place like this in the world! Loved this post.

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  21. I want to visit Australia again!!!

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  22. What an amazing place! Seeing your photos, I can understand why the place is going to be declared a National Park. Love all the animals you captured.

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  23. May we display your header on our new site directory? As it is now, the site title (linked back to your home page) is listed, and we think displaying the header will attract more attention. In any event, we hope you will come by and see what is going on at SiteHoundSniffs.com.

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  24. Fascinating and informative post!
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/10/springtime-memories.html

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  25. Love your spiky friends, one of my favourite animals. Gorgeous flowers and I can see why you love visiting that area.

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  26. Dryandra is such a lovely area and this is a very informative post as always. The colours of those wildflowers are just stunning, what a great season we are having. How lucky to see a bilby in its natural habitat. Great post Jill

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  27. Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! I'm not sure what was my favorite, I love the peeling bark, but the Echidna is so cute!

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